A good set of stairs has always represented something magical to me. Due to my lifelong obsession with Rocky, running up a steep flight of stairs has always symbolized overcoming an intimidating and overwhelmingly difficult life-obstacle.
Throughout my childhood, I ran up and down a local (and oh-so memorable) set of stadium stairs quite often, and drew a lot of inspiration and self-confidence from it. Little did I know that I was engaging in one of the best fat burning exercises and also one of the best conditioning drills in existence.
Believe me, after 20 years of being in the biz, I have tirelessly experimented with every possible fat loss/conditioning protocol imaginable, yet regardless of what I try, a good stair running workout still reigns supreme.
Now, before you go out and start sprinting up the nearest staircase, read on to discover how to best perform a stair running workout. Don’t get me wrong, just simply running up and down a good flight of stairs will give you quite a workout. But I have discovered techniques for stair climbing that will maximize your training results from this type of exercise.
Here’s how to do it, step-by-step:
1) Find a local set of stadium stairs. Check nearby high schools, colleges or even high-rise buildings. Although you can make due with any height of stairs, it is optimal if you find a set that takes you between 6-10 seconds to run up.
2) Warm up properly. Although performing an extensive sprinting warm up is never a bad idea, it is not required to warm up as thoroughly for the stair workout. In fact, I have found that just a quick 5-minute warm up does the trick. Here’s the protocol:
a) 30 seconds of quick switch toe touches followed by a 10 second break
b) 30 seconds of athletic step-ups (switch lead leg after 15 sec) followed by a 10 second break
c) 30 seconds of crossover step-ups (switch lead leg after 15 sec) followed by a 10 second break
d) 30 seconds of stair hops followed by a 10 second break
e) Jog up the flight and walk down followed by a one-minute rest.
3) Begin workout. There are endless variations of sets/reps schemes and step patterns. But as promised, I’ll give you an actual workout. Be ready to be humbled!
a) 6-10 sets (depending on height of staircase) of forward alternating sprints- this pattern looks like this: step one-left, step 2-right, step 3-left, step 4-right, etc.
b) 6-10 sets (depending on height of staircase) of double forward alternating sprints- this pattern looks like this: step one-left, step 3-right, step 5-left, step 7-right, etc.
c) 6-10 sets (depending on height of staircase) of crossover running- (3-5 sets leading with the left and vice versa)
d) 3-6 sets (depending on height of staircase) stair hops- hop with both feet on each stair.
Here is a video I shot for you so you can better understand the techniques described above:
Here are the rules you must follow in order to get the most out of this routine:
1) Each sprint must be at 95% intensity or greater. Unlike sprinting on flat ground, stair running yields the best results from full speed sprints.
2) Don’t sprint down the stairs. Instead, briskly walk down them. It will appear to be more of a trot down.
3) Maintain a 1-3 work-to-rest ratio. In other words, if it takes you 10 seconds to run up, you would rest for 30 seconds before performing your next set. After the walk down, you may still have a few seconds before hitting your next sprint.
In order to progress, you should strive to run faster each workout. For advanced trainees, adding a weighted vest can also be a method of progression.
See you at the top!