Training Tips

Training for a Stair Climb

Stair climbing may be the fastest and most convenient way to get an excellent aerobic workout, regardless of your fitness level. It is the perfect downtown or chilly winter day workout. The stairs can be anywhere: at home, in an office building, apartment building, park, parking structure or even a hotel.

Climbing stairs is a great workout for your leg and gluteal muscles. It's more work than running because each step requires the lifting of the entire body's weight through the height of the stair using just one leg. You get even more of a workout going downstairs, which involves negative contraction of the quadriceps, intensifying the workout considerably. Stair climbing can be an awesome addition to your running program and can replace a hill or speed workout to add variety to your training.

Calories Burned

Using the stairs as an alternative to the elevator or escalator is excellent exercise and can burn about 500 calories per hour, depending on your weight.

Running upstairs, however, bumps you into a whole new training class - burning approximately 1000 calories per hour!

A Serious Workout

If you choose to do a stair climb, treat it as a serious workout and...

  • Do a warm-up that includes quadricep and calf stretches and a few flights of stairs at an easy pace.
  • Bring water with you and keep hydrated.
  • Always wear good running shoes as concrete stairs can be especially hard on the joints…Leave the oxfords and the pumps under your desk.
  • Be careful of corners and knee alignment. Being conscious of how you take corners can prevent a twisted knee or ankle.
  • Do a cool-down that includes a walk as well as hamstring, calf and quad stretches.
Pace Yourself

Whether you are a novice or a seasoned marathon runner pace yourself and don’t go crazy the first time out. Start with one or two flights and then take the elevator the rest of the way. That is the beauty of stairs. If you are in training, control the intensity by running one flight and walking the next. Set a goal to increase your workout by a couple flights of stairs per week.

Be Safe

Keep these safety precautions in mind...

  • If you are in a large building be sure you can exit the stairway easily. Many stairways are locked at the floor exits. Be sure to bring a key, arrange to have someone meet you at your exit floor or bring your cell phone.
  • Train with someone. It’s more fun and safe.
  • Let someone know what you are doing, where you will be and when you should be back.
  • Walk your route the first time through to be aware of any hazards.
  • Watch out for doors opening!
  • And, remember to have fun!

Week

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

1

Rest

1 mile run

Rest

1.5 mile run

Rest

1 mile run

10 min stairs

2

Rest

1.5 mile run

Rest

1 mile run

Rest

1.5 mile run

15 min stairs

3

Rest

1 mile run

Rest

12 min stairs

Rest

1 mile run

12 min stairs

4

Rest

1.5 mile run

Rest

1.5 mile run

Rest

1.5 mile run

15 min stairs

5

Rest

2 mile run

Rest

10 min stairs

Rest

2 mile run

12 min stairs

6

Rest

1.5 mile run

Rest

2 mile run

Rest

2.5 mile run

20 min stairs

7

Rest

2 mile run

Rest

20 min stairs

Rest

3 m run

10 min stairs

8

Rest

1.5 mile run

Rest

2 mile run

Rest

Rest

80 Floors

  • Training should be similar to how you would prepare for a 5K or a 3.1 mile race. The stair climb will actually take less time to complete than a 5K (most people complete the stair climb in about 15 - 20 minutes).
  • To be adequately prepared, you should aim to do 15-20 minutes of stair climbing activity three times a week prior to the race. If you have access to a stairwell or staircase, try climbing the stairs repeatedly to get a full workout. After each ascent, take your time descending or use an elevator to avoid any lightheadedness, shortness of breath, chest pain or nausea.
  • A common mistake in stair climbing is to ascend too rapidly, which will cause you to experience shortness of breath or lightheadedness. It is to your benefit to take your time ascending the first 10 floors and climb slowly and stay relaxed. Otherwise, you will experience leg fatigue and shortness of breath for the remainder of the climb. Once you find your pace, you can ascend steadily to the finish line.
  • Be sure to hydrate well before coming to the race (about 16 oz of water). Eat at most 200 calories of bread, a banana or other similar bland food. You do not need to carb-load for this event.
  • Wear gloves that have a textured pad on the palm and fingers. This will help with getting a grip on the railings, and you will be able to pull yourself up as you do the event.
  • The stairwells are well-ventilated. However, the air is a bit drier than outside, so you may find it beneficial to eat a mint or other hard candy BEFORE the event. Do NOT climb with any candy or other food in your mouth. The only thing you should ingest during the climb is water at the water stations.
  • Shoes that are designed for running will work best for this event. Cross-training, aerobic or basketball shoes are a bit stiff or heavy and tend to have a smooth outsole. Running shoes will always provide better traction.
  • And of course, be sure to be in good health and have a medical check-up approving you to participate in this rigorous physical event.

Good luck and we’ll see you at the top!