Strength and Conditioning Stair Workout
When my morning running buddy and I were getting a little tired of our typical 5-mile running route around the city, we decided to mix things up one day and did a stair workout instead. Afterwards we decided that stair workouts needed to become a staple in our weekly training plans. They have and we’ve never looked back. The workouts are tough, but man, they are awesome!
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Why Running Stairs Is Great
- Strengthen your legs. The next time you walk up some stairs take notice of all the muscles you are utilizing to do so. You’ll notice your quads, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, and glutes all working to help you climb up. This action will help build muscle.
- Increase your aerobic capacity. By doing high intensity exercise – hills, HIIT, stairs – you are training your muscles (think: quads, hamstrings, heart) to work harder while utilizing less oxygen, meaning that your body is more efficient so that you can run farther and faster.
- Mix up your routine. This is both a physical and mental advantage. By switching up your routine, you introduce new challenges to your body. These new challenges (or stressors) are what helps your body change and become stronger compared to doing the same thing week over week, leading to a plateau. New challenges also help stimulate your brain and can help reinvigorate your love of running/workout out.
But Wait, There’s More
Running up and down stairs is a fantastic workout in itself, but we are going to take it to the next level and incorporate some bodyweight strength training exercises to make it a solid full body workout – cardio and strength.
The intensity and variety of this workout really makes the time fly by. I would even go as far to say that it is fun.
Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself!
Strength and Conditioning Stair Workout
First, find a set of stairs that is approximately 30-45 steps per flight. Ones that are a little longer or shorter will work fine too, you may just need to adjust for the amount of rounds you do each exercise. My go-to staircase in Minneapolis is the one leading up from the Mississippi River to the Hennepin Avenue Bridge near DeLaSalle High School. If you know of other great options, please list them in the comment section!
Warm up by jogging for 5-10 minutes before starting the workout. This will help you to slowly increase your heart rate and warm up your legs. If you are trying out a new staircase for the first time I would recommend doing a few warm up rounds on the stairs to get a food feel for them.
Once you are warmed up, you’ll complete each exercise in the first circuit back-to-back. Rest for 30 seconds then repeat the full circuit two more times. Rest for one minute, then move to the next circuit following the same pattern. I want to clarify that the fourth circuit consists only of sprinting. You’ll sprint up/jog down 2 rounds back-to-back, then rest for 30 seconds and do it twice more.
Jog Up/Jog Down: Jog up and down the stairs at a fast pace, but not an all-out sprint. Repeat this 3 more times.
Double Foot Jump Up/Jog Down: Jump up stair to stair with both feet at the same time, as if you were doing squat jumps up stairs. Jog down. Repeat this once.
Lunge Up Every Other Steps/Jog Down: Lunge up the staircase stepping on every other step (or every third step, depending on the height of the stairs and the length of your legs). Make sure to push through your heels to activate more of your glute. Jog down. Repeat this once.
Side Step Up/Jog Down: Turn to the right and side lunge up the staircase stepping with your left foot. Skip one or two stairs (depending on the height of the stairs and the length of your legs) and bring your right foot to meet the left. Continue leading with your left foot. Jog down. Repeat this once on the opposite side.
Spring Up/Jog Down: Sprint up the stairs at an all-out pace. You will probably need to skip a step or two. Jog down. Repeat this once.
Squats: Stand with feet hip-width distance apart, toes pointing forward. Squat down by bending your knees and flexing your hips, keeping your back straight and your knees behind your toes. Lower until your hamstring are parallel to the ground. Engage your glutes, press through your heels, and rise back up to starting position. Perform 15 reps.
Triceps Bench Dips: Sit on a bench with your legs straight out in front of you, your heels on the ground, and your hands gripping the edge of the bench on each side of your body. Straighten your arms and lift your body off the bench (starting position). Lower yourself in front of the bench until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle. Raise yourself back up to starting position. If you don’t have a bench nearby, you can use the stairs or a curb. Perform 15 reps.
Walking Lunges: Stand with your feet facing forward and take a step forward with your right foot. Lower into a lunge, making sure that your right knee does not go past your right toe. Push down through your right heel, engage your glutes, and rise up while stepping forward with your left leg. Repeat lunge on the left side. This is one rep. Continue for 15 reps.
Push Ups: Begin in push-up (plank) position. Keeping your body in a straight line with your core engaged, slowly lower your body while bending your elbows to 90 degrees. Push your body back up to starting position. Perform 15 reps.
Squat Jumps: Stand with feet hip-width distance apart, toes pointing forward. Lower down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Thrust your hips forward and jump into the air, landing softly back down in a squat position. Perform 15 reps.
Plank Knee-to-Elbow: Start in a plank position with hands directly below your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels. Keeping your core tight and your body steady, bring your right knee to the outside of your right elbow. Return to plank. Bring your left knee to your left elbow and return to plank. This is one rep. Perform 15 reps.
Have fun, be safe, and let us know if you have any questions!