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*Article courtesy of ACEFitness.org
Remember those 72 stone steps that Sylvester Stallone made famous in the Rocky movies? That image of Rocky reaching the top of the stairs is a great reminder that you don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment to break a sweat. All you need is a flight of stairs, a good pair of shoes and an “I can do it” mentality.
Often thought of as a workout for athletes, stair running is a great, high-intensity workout that helps build speed, power, agility and cardiovascular fitness. And while running stairs doesn’t require you to be an athlete, it does require hard work.
Getting Started With Stairs
Although any set of stairs will do, try to find one with at least 30 steps or more; ideally, you should be able to run the stairs for at least six to 12 seconds. Check out the local high school for stadium steps or bleachers or the local park for an outdoor adventure. If the weather does not allow for an outdoor workout, your apartment or office building will surely have a flight or two (or maybe more) that will enable you to give stair running a try.
On the way up, take a slight lean forward, pump the arms and focus on actively extending your leg, pushing off the ball of the foot. Drive your foot down as if you were about to jump up, utilizing all the muscles in the legs to get up to the top.
On the way down, absorb the impact with your glutes instead of your knees. Stadium steps or bleaches often have higher steps than those found in office buildings. If this is the case, descend at an angle instead of walking straight down to minimize the impact on your knees.
Whether you choose a select number of steps or a specific distance, going up to your destination and coming back down to the starting point is called a set. When it comes to work/rest ration, 1:3 is a good rule of thumb. However long it takes you to go up, take 3 times the amount of rest before running the stairs again (e.g., 10 seconds up, 30 seconds to come down; rest before you run back up the stairs).
As your conditioning improves, try out these options to increase the challenge of your workout even further:
- Climb more flights or increase the amount of time you climb
- Reduce the rest intervals between each set
- Increase the sets within the workout
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Walk: Walk up the stairs and then walk down. Walking the stairs is good for those who are beginning to add stair climbing to their physical activity regimen. For those who are more advanced, use the walk up as a method of warming up before a more intense stair-climbing workout. Here is an example of a beginning, basic stair workout:
Run: Increase the pace from the walk. This should be more vigorous than the walking pace, but not a full-out effort. Here is an example of an intermediate stair workout:
Sprint: This is an all-out effort, sprinting up the stairs as quickly as you can. Here is an example of an advanced stair workout: