Stair Running Workouts to Build Speed and Power

Advanced Training for Speed and Power

Stair running workouts
Stair running workout. Credit: Inti St. Clair / Getty Images

Stair running is a high-intensity workout that helps build speed, power and cardiovascular fitness. A 2005  NIH study showed that a progressive stair climbing routine resulted in a 17% increase in VO2max, a measure of aerobic endurance. Running stairs is also a great addition to any agility training program because it builds quickness and foot speed while getting an excellent sprint workout.

A high-intensity sprint workout is a great fat-burner while it also builds explosive strength, especially for jumping.

It targets some of the largest muscles in the body: the glutes, quads and calves. Running stairs provides a cardiovascular benefit similar to that of high-intensity running and is an effective way to build sprint power.

Where to Run Stairs

Running stairs is not just a way to do a StairMaster workout. While similar, running stairs requires more focus, more control and more muscles to perform well. And one of the best features of a stair running workout is the cost—it costs you nothing. Just find a set of stairs you can use.

Many athletes run stairs at a stadium, but you can also look for a local outdoor stairway or a stairwell in a building with at least a hundred steps. If you don't have easy access to stairs where you live, be on the lookout for a hill with a fairly steep incline. Hill repeats provide a similar workout to stair running and may be slightly easier to get started with.

Stair Running Beginners

If you haven't done stair workouts before, you should plan to start slowly and gradually build up your time and intensity.

Stair running uses muscles you may not have used before, and overdoing your first workout will result in unnecessary muscle soreness. Often, it's the decent that causes the most post-workout soreness due to the eccentric nature of the muscle contraction on the way down the stairs. So if you are new to stair workouts, take it easy on the way down for the first several workouts.

Stair Running Guidelines

  • Make sure you warm up thoroughly prior to your stair running workout.
  • Begin by walking one step at a time until you get warm and find your rhythm.
  • Avoid running stairs on your first few workouts. Begin walking the stairs. As you build up to a jog, keep your weight centered with your head up and eyes looking forward rather than down at your feet.
  • Do no more than two stair workouts a week.
  • By week three you can begin running, or perhaps try to take two steps at a time.
  • Use the return to the bottom as your rest interval, and then do another set.
  • Work up to about 10 sets per workout depending upon the length of your stairs. A 20-30 minute workout will give you plenty of intensity.
  • Add stair running into you workout routine on your high-intensity training days or as part of an interval training workout

Always stop your workout if you notice any aches, pains or other injury warning signs.

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