How to Get the Best Stair Climbing Results
Beginner Level: Moving into Your Fat-burning Zone
When you’re doing steady, prolonged aerobic exercise, it is widely known that your body turns fat into fuel. Keeping your exercise intensity at a moderate level requires discipline (especially for me, as I always want to sprint up). Using a heart rate monitor is helpful, or simply rates your intensity level on a scale of 1-10 and try to stay within your recommended range.
A basic walk up/walk down is good start to stair training. Stepping for 20-30 minutes is ideal, but there’s no reason not to squeeze in stair training, even if you only have 10 minutes. (You know I always say that any exercise is better than no exercise!)
Increase/decrease your speed to make sure you continue to push yourself and keep burning fat, but make sure to adjust your walking speed to keep your heart rate in the target zone.
Intermediate Level: Building Your Strength
I have talked before about the benefits of running up hill, and running upstairs are very similar in that I have experienced that they use the posterior chain muscles (butt, hamstrings and calves). The gradient forces your body to work harder, compared to exercising on a flat surface. This increased workload burns extra calories, and the high-impact nature of running up steps promotes muscle building.
Sprint to the top of the stairs and slowly walk back down. Force yourself to take your time going down and concentrate on your movements. Doing timed intervals is a great way to enjoy sprint stair training. Try completing as many floors as you can in three minutes, followed by a 90 second rest. Do this for 5-8 rounds for a great strength training session.
Advanced Level: Push Your Power and Coordination
This style of stair training is considered advanced and I would not recommend at the beginner or intermediate levels. To effectively train to improve power, try bounding up the stairs while skipping steps. This advanced approach is an effective power-builder and used a lot in athletic training. You can perform this as single leg hops or double leg jumps; it requires balance, concentration and co-ordination.
Try high-performance hops or jumps up 10 steps and then return to your starting point, aiming for a maximum of 10 total sets.
Because of the high impact nature of this type of exercise, I recommend working for a maximum of 20 minutes per session. If you want to challenge your upper body for the remaining workout time, do push-ups.
Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA – Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness at Herbalife