Photo by Clique Images on Unsplash
Maybe you’ve run out of new jogging or walking routes.
Maybe you’re the type of person who wants to do in 20 minutes what usually takes 45 minutes.
Maybe you’re an overweight lighthouse keeper.
As luck would have it there’s a handy alternative – run up.
The benefits of using stairs or hills to walk up or run up are too good to resist.
Whether it’s to spice up your exercise routine or to seriously increase your fitness, climbs are an excellent conditioner.
Running up stairs or a hill is a bodyweight exercise as you push against gravity to go upwards. You can burn far more calories doing a short, intense hill/stair workout than you would in a longer regular run.
The best thing is that they can be done by people of all ages, of all fitness levels and anywhere. If running is a little ambitious, try walking.
Stairs are everywhere. If it’s raining try car parks, office buildings and department stores, lighthouses, the Dubai tower. You get the idea – they all have them.
If your workplace has stairs, use them. It also guarantees you avoid awkward elevator conversations.
The earth isn’t flat. In the city or the country, find a hill.
Ask a stranger if you can’t – it could be the start of a lifelong friendship.
There are differences between stair and hill training but both share the same plusses.
Stronger leg drive and power. Running or walking against gravity means the thigh, calf and hamstring muscles all work harder to propel you upwards.
Hear your heart and lungs sing.
The higher intensity of hill and stair climbs seriously improves your endurance. The heart rate increases and more oxygen is required which is great for your cardiovascular fitness.
You have to use more oxygen in order to move which increases your VO2 max. Your VO2 max basically indicates how much oxygen you can use during exercise. The more oxygen you can use, the better your VO2 max.
The better your VO2 max, the longer you can exercise. This is a huge payout when you go back to regular flat running and notice the increased endurance.
Short but sweet.
This is high intensity exercise meaning you don’t need as much time for a thorough workout as you would running on flat ground.
Hill running will particularly hit your calves and quads.
Stairs are generally steeper than hills making them a more intense workout.
Start out by finding a set of stairs or hill that takes you between 30 to 60 seconds to complete.
Go up at a steady pace, letting your muscles get used to the resistance work you’ll be doing.
Use the descent as your break time and keep in mind your knees can take some stress when coming down. Try to walk down lightly, without jarring your precious knee joints.
Try to complete as many climbs as you can in 20 minutes. As you get stronger you’ll be able to do more sets and you can then look at extending your workout time.
If you really get into stair running then you can join a tower run which is what it sounds like – running up a tower. For laughs some people choose to run up the Lotte Tower in Seoul which stands at 123 floors or 555 metres. In this case, awkward elevator conversations are probably the better option.
Running or walking up stairs and hills uses the same muscles as doing squats or lunges. Your hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves are all activated.
The core stabilizer muscles are also called upon to help you balance on each stair.
What a package!
Find your sacred steep place and aim high.