Step Up Your Fitness Game: The Ultimate Guide to Stair Training For Runners

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David Dack

Ready to take your workouts to new heights? Today, I’ve got something exciting to share with you – it’s all about stair training!

Now, I didn’t stumble upon this fitness gem by accident. Stair climbing workouts quickly became my go-to for boosting aerobic fitness without pounding the pavement endlessly.

But guess what? Stairs aren’t just for cardio junkies like me. They’re a secret weapon for building lower body strength, enhancing agility, improving flexibility, and even diving into anaerobic conditioning.

So, if you’re itching to elevate your training routine and conquer new fitness goals, you’re in the right place!

Get ready to step up your game as we dive into the world of stair training.

Let’s go!

The Benefits of Stair Sprints Training

Here are some of the benefits to expect if you do stair workouts on a regular basis.

Improves VO2 max

VO2 max, or the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during intense exercise, gets a significant upgrade with stair workouts. In fact, here’s a little nugget: climbing just 200 steps twice a day, five days a week over two months, can lead to a whopping 17% increase in your VO2 max.

Strengthens the legs

Forget the leg press machines – stairs are where it’s at! They’re your secret weapon for sculpting those lower body muscles. Think glutes, quads, and calves, all getting toned up without the jarring impact of running or sprinting.

Costs nothing

As long as you’ve got access to a staircase, whether it’s a public one, stadium bleachers, or the stairs in your apartment block, you’re all set. No fancy gym memberships are required. Your fitness journey begins right at your doorstep.

Offers variety

Staircases are like your personal fitness playground. You can shake things up with sprints, plyometric moves that’ll have you feeling like a superhero, and creative variations of classic bodyweight exercises. Think push-ups, squats, lunges, and more.

The Ultimate Stair Workout for Runners

Now that you’re all clued in on the incredible benefits of stair climbing, it’s time to dive into this high-intensity interval training (HIIT) staircase workout. This routine is not just your average workout; it’s your ticket to improved fitness, enhanced strength, and becoming the best runner you can possibly be.

Find the Right Stairs

Before you embark on your stair-climbing adventure, let’s find the perfect set of stairs to conquer.

Ideally, you’ll want a safe and well-lit staircase to ensure you’re training in the best possible conditions. High school stadiums and football arenas often offer great stair-climbing venues. The bleachers or a local park can also be excellent options.

However, if you can’t find any of these, don’t worry! Even a large flight of stairs in your building or office can work wonders. What’s essential is that the staircase has a sufficient number of steps, ideally between 20 to 40 steps or more. Climbing the entire flight should take you roughly 10 to 20 seconds.

Additionally, make sure that your entire foot comfortably fits on each step tread. This not only ensures enough room for strength exercises but also makes your stair-running experience smooth and trouble-free.

Additional resource  – Trx exercises for runners

Warming Up For Stair Workouts

Warming up is your ticket to a safe and effective stair-climbing workout. Let’s get those muscles primed and ready for action!

Start with a gentle jog for about 5 to 10 minutes to get your heart rate up and your body moving.

Next, it’s time for some dynamic moves. Think lunges, inchworms, squats, and more. These exercises help limber up your body and activate those muscles. Repeat this dynamic warm-up sequence two to three times to ensure your body is thoroughly prepared for the stair workout ahead.

Now, a word of caution: The workout we’re diving into is intense.

If you haven’t been doing high-intensity exercises lately, it’s essential to be realistic and ease into it. You can start with fewer reps, always staying within your current fitness capabilities.

Stair Training Exercise One: Sprints

Position yourself at the base of the stairs, ready to conquer them. Picture yourself as Rocky Balboa, and those stairs are your challenge!

When I say “go,” I want you to explode up those stairs like a rocket. Pump your arms vigorously by your sides, and as you sprint, tap each step and launch off it as fast as you can.


Once you’ve conquered the climb, take a leisurely walk back down to your starting point. This is your chance to catch your breath and gear up for the next round.

Now, how many rounds should you do? That’s where your fitness level and the staircase length come into play. Aim for six to eight rounds, but listen to your body. Don’t push it too hard if you’re just starting out.

Stair Training Exercise Two: Step Forward Lunges

Start at the base of the staircase, and here’s the plan: Step your right foot onto the second or third step, and bend both knees to form perfect 90-degree angles. That’s your lunge position.

Now, push off with your right foot; give it some oomph! Propel yourself up the stairs, step by step. As you do, your left leg should follow suit, meeting your right. Keep that momentum going and step it forward, lowering into the next lunge.

Feel the burn as you continue lunging forward, one step at a time, conquering each step like it’s a victory waiting to be claimed.

Keep your front knee tracking right over your toes, and make sure your torso stays upright. We want those lunges to be picture-perfect!

Once you reach the pinnacle of your staircase conquest, take a stroll back down. This is your well-deserved recovery time before your next lunge adventure

Stair Training Exercise Three: Squat Jumps

Start at the bottom of the stairs and lower your hips down into a squat position. Engage that core!

Swing your arms as you prepare for takeoff.

Hop up to the next step using both feet and stick the landing like a pro back into that squat. Hold it for a quick moment to catch your breath, and then, without missing a beat, leap to the next step.

Keep this squat-jumping rhythm going, transitioning seamlessly from squat to jump as you ascend to the summit of the staircase. Each jump propels you one step closer to victory.

Stair Training Exercise Four: Skip a Step

Just like in Exercise One, you’ll start at the bottom of the stairs. But this time, we’re adding a twist. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to sprint-jump high enough to skip not just one but a step or two!

It’s all about that explosive power. Pump those arms like you mean it and maintain perfect form as you ascend. Keep those knees aligned over your feet, and don’t let that back slouch or bend at the waist. Your goal is to conquer those stairs with finesse and style!

Once you’ve conquered the climb, it’s time to gracefully descend. Walk back down for a well-deserved recovery. Catch your breath and get ready for the next round!

Stair Training Exercise Five: Skater Steps

Stand tall, facing the staircase. It’s time for some fancy footwork! Start by stepping your left foot onto the far-left end of the second step.

Now, this is where the magic happens. Push off with your left foot and execute a graceful hop onto your right foot, placing it on the right side of the next step.

Rinse and repeat this ascending dance, alternating sides with each step. You’re like a stair-climbing maestro!

Keep going until you conquer that staircase and reach the glorious summit. Victory is yours!

But wait, it’s not over yet. To ensure a safe landing, walk back down for some well-deserved recovery. It’s all part of the stair-stepping rhythm!

Stair Training Exercise Six: Triceps Stair Dips

Start by finding a comfy spot on the edge of the second or third step. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and position your hands under your shoulders. This is your launching pad for triceps greatness!

Now, let’s lift those hips! Push through your hands until your arms are straight and your legs extend, with your heels resting on the floor. Keep those hands shoulder-width apart and your shoulders relaxed throughout the entire exercise

That’s your starting position, and you’re looking good!

It’s time to engage that core and dive into the dips. Lower your body down and then push it back up. Feel those triceps working their magic? That’s what we’re aiming for!

Remember, the power here comes from your arms, not from bouncing your butt up and down. Keep the focus on those triceps.

Stay in the groove and shoot for at least 12 to 15 reps to complete one set. You’re well on your way to triceps greatness!

Stair Training Exercise Seven: Hop Ups

Position yourself at the base of the stairs with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Engage that core because we’re about to take off!

Now, let’s hop to it! Jump up and down from the first or second step for a solid 20 to 30 reps without hitting the brakes. That’s what we call one set.

Here’s the secret sauce: keep those hops powerful and lightning-fast. You’re not just going through the motions; you’re giving it your all!

Stair Training Exercise Eight: Mountain Climbers

Turn to face the stairs and place your hands on the second or third step. Lock those arms in, extend your legs behind you, and engage that core. We’re in for a ride!

Now, here’s the drill: lift your right foot off the ground and drive that right knee as close to your chest as humanly possible. Then, smoothly return to the starting position and switch sides.

It’s a leg-switching extravaganza! Alternate those legs and bring your knees to your chest as quickly as you can while maintaining impeccable form.

Keep up the pace! You’ve got 16 reps on each side to conquer without hitting the pause button. Once you do that, you’ve just nailed one set of mountain climbers.

Stair Training Exercise Nine: Single-Leg Hops

Start at the bottom of the staircase, and stand strong on your right leg while keeping your left leg slightly bent. Balance is key, so if you need extra support, lightly hold onto the railing or a nearby wall.

Now, engage that core and maintain those soft knees. It’s time to take flight! Begin jumping up, one step at a time, until you conquer the entire flight of stairs.

Feel the burn? It’s working! Now, take a breather and walk back down the stairs for some well-deserved recovery. Then, switch sides and let your left leg take the lead.

I’d also recommend this speed ladder drills routine.

Featured Image Credit  – Lorna Jane via Flickr

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2 thoughts on “Step Up Your Fitness Game: The Ultimate Guide to Stair Training For Runners”

  1. This is definitely very intensive, and I’ll definitely have to get in better shape to do this. But, as soon as I feel ready, I’ll pull this workout out and try it.

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