Stair climbing for runners

Do you want to spice up your winter training? All you need is a staircase. With different staircase climbing variations you can train your leg strength specific to running and set a new stimulus. So, let’s go and say hello to your staircase challenge!

Benefits of stair climbing

  • You train your running-specific strength endurance.
  • Your impression (plyometrics) becomes more powerful. You will not only benefit from this when running uphill, but also on a flat surface, a space-filling step is of advantage. In addition, active footwork helps to stay injury-free.
  • It’s a very effective training and there is a new stimulus for the cardiovascular system.
  • The playful training brings variety to your winter workout and is also an ideal option concerning safety, as you can look for a lighted or even an inside staircase when it’s dark outside. Stair climbing as a training can of course also be included in summer workouts.

General tips for stair climbing:

  • Stair climbing should only be carried out when warmed up.
  • Caution in wet conditions: You might want to switch to an indoor option.
  • Stair climbing can be a good substitute for a short interval training unit.
  • Quality before quantity always applies to stair climbing, as a clean and dynamic execution is important to avoid injury.
  • During each execution, the body remains stable: Special attention applies to the torso, which should always be tightened during the training.
  • A cool down should be carried out afterwards. Nevertheless, you may feel the staircase training the next day with sore muscles, especially at the beginning.

Possible sequence of a staircase training unit

  • 10 to 15 minutes of warm up
  • Mobilize joints, 3 interval runs
  • 10 to 15 minutes of stair climbs in a row (more than one passage possible) – usually at full speed up and down. Choose your favorites of the exercise collection below (or try all of them!):
    • Skipping and coordinative climbing down the stairs (don’t forget to include a short break at the bottom of the stairs as this is intense, too)
    • Ankle jumps
    • Frequency runs sideways (both sides)
    • Squat jumps (if the downhill jumps are also included, again, take the break at the bottom of the stairs)
    • Sideway jumps
    • One-legged jumps (both legs)
  • 10 to 15 minutes of cool-down, then stretching

Collection of exercises: Stair climbing

The exercises will be shown by Judith Wyder, 5 times OL World Champion and one of the fastest runners of Switzerland.

Skipping and coordinative climbing down the stairs

In skipping, every step is done explosively, and the knee is pulled up. A good coordinative exercise is the staircase-downhill, but beware: start slowly!

Ankle jumps

The toes are actively pulled upwards, jumping off with your forefoot. The knees always point forward to ensure a good leg axis.

Frequency runs sideways

The movement is carried out at a 90° angle to the staircase. The leg frequency is high, and a coordinated arm work is key for this exercise.

Squat jumps

Squat jumps, also called frog jumps, can be varied depending on the level: Try to take 1, 2, 3 or 4 steps in one. The jumps can be dynamic or static, depending on the goal. A good leg axis is important for both. The downhill jumps should be approached carefully – Attention: We warned you about the potential of muscle soreness!

Sideway jumps

Power and coordination in one, no matter whether you exercise them statically or dynamically. This exercise is especially recommended for trail runners and cross-country skiers.

One-legged jumps

There’s more to these one-legged jumps than one might think, no matter if you take every step or jump over some of them. Also, the jumps should be carried out in an explosive way.

These videos have been kindly provided by indurance and Judith Wyder.

Author of this blog entry: Stefanie Meyer

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