Stair Runs – A Killer Exercise!

If you’ve been looking for an epic way to mix up boring cardio training, this could be it! Stairs are something we usually avoid but in this workout, climbing stairs is our focus! And we’re not talking 15 steps, more like 20 continuous minutes of stair climbs!

Why Climb Stairs? 

Stair-climbs are magic for a whole host of reasons:

  • It costs you nothing – stairs are everywhere from your office block or apartment to sports grounds, parks and even monuments.
  • It’s an intense form of cardio training – that rapidly lifts your heart rate but also strengthens the major muscles of the lower body including the quads, hamstrings, buttocks and calves.
  • It strengthens bones – this is due to the fact that like with resistance/weights training, the joints are put under a solid load.
  • It exhausts the muscles quickly – this means that as opposed to running for ages on end, stair climbs exert their beneficial effect within seconds of starting the session.

Because you are working against gravity, greater endurance, power, strength and cardiovascular fitness are outcomes you can expect with regular repeated performance. These benefits are REAL!

The British Journal of Medicine ( recently published a study that demonstrated aerobic fitness (measured as VO2 Max) increased by 17% after an exercise program in which sedentary participants climbed a 199-stair set, five days a week for eight weeks. The benefits will obviously be even more pronounced if you run up them.

How To Start

There is an obvious potential for injury, especially in the ankle region when climbing stairs. This risk is significantly increased when you are performing work under duress. It’s therefore really important that you start your program modestly and gradually improve with repeated sessions.

I’d recommend a program of ups and downs that requires you to either work continuously for around 15 minutes or maybe longer but with intermittent breaks to regain composure. Once you become accustomed to that level, either increase the duration, the intensity or shorten the breaks you take between sets.

What Can You Expect? 

Stair-climbs are not for the faint hearted. You can expect your lungs to feel like they are about to explode and your muscles will go to jelly quickly. This is because of the lactic acid build up that occurs when you cannot supply enough oxygen to the working muscles. This happens in all anaerobic workouts and if you can push through the burn, over time, the threshold at which lactic fatigues kicks in will rise.

I suggest music and a bottle of water to accompany your workouts. Whilst my above description may not indicate this, there’s a sadistic pleasure that goes with fighting off the pain. Music helps to take your mind off the challenge in front of you so that you do not get trapped inside your head. See my post on ‘Music: The Strongest Motivator‘ for more info on that.

So go and rip in guys! Try one morning through the week half an hour before sunrise. At first light, you’ll have the staircase to yourself and will hopefully like me, get yourself a beautiful, rewarding sunrise. I might catch you there.

Please LIKE and SHARE if you thought this post worth! JS.