Need to build strength, endurance and cardio? Stairs are the perfect exercise for you. You can find a great set of stairs anywhere, at a park, the track, a stadium or even your own home. When I was in Australia last month I found a great flight of stairs in a local park. A few rounds up and down gave me a great cardio burn. My lungs and legs were on fire – but the good kind of fire where you can’t wait for the next workout.
Build strength with the stairs
Even walking up stairs can be taxing on your muscles. Try running and you will dramatically increase the calorie burn and strength building potential. Sprint up and then carefully “sprint” as best you can back down. Just be careful not to fall – running down is extra dangerous. No one wants to go head over heels, spiraling towards the earth.
According to a Harvard Medical School report, stair climbing, even at a slower walking pace burns three times as many calories as walking at a faster clip. Three times – sign me up! In high school, my basketball team use to run the stairs in the gym every practice and it definitely made our team stronger. I felt every muscle, but I also noticed increased speed on the court. In the beginning I hated running the stairs, a few weeks into the season, I loved it for what it did to increase my speed.
Increase your cardio
Want to build more endurance? Stairs are excellent at pushing your cardiovascular system to full power. Stairs are a high intensity exercise that blasts calories and helps you develop a stronger heart and lungs. Sprint up at your max speed and then use the jog back down to recover. Repeat and add additional sprints every few weeks.
For example: Week one you would run 3 sets. Week 3 you run 4 sets of stairs. Increase as it becomes easy or too routine. Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.
Have fun with your workout
Honestly, stairs can be really run, especially if you find a staircase with a great view at the top. You can also challenge yourself to go faster every time and create a mini-competition with yourself or with a friend. Set a timer and try to beat your previous time to the top. Mix it up even more by taking steps two-at-a-time (just remember to watch your step and avoid tripping).
Mix it up
For a variation on simply running up and down try these unique ideas to add intensity to your workout.
- Bring a jump rope and do 50 reps each time you run back down
- Do 10 push-ups when you reach each landing or at the top and bottom if it is just one flight of stairs you are running
- Squat jump up the stairs two at a time – just be aware of where your feet are so you stay safe
- Bring a friend and make it into a relay. While one of you runs up the stairs the other does jumping jacks, butt kickers or burpees until the stair runner returns. Switch stations and repeat.
Remember to enjoy your workout! Happy stair running 🙂