Friday, March 17, 2017

High Steppin' in the SpRiNg


Have you ever taken it to the stairs?

As a Fight for Air Climb veteran, I have been taking it to the stairs every spring since my first Climb (in 2013). Did you know the simple act of climbing stairs mimics running hills (on steroids)?

Of course, the incline of a (man made) stairway is usually a bit more steep than a simple (naturally occurring) hill you 'd find on the countryside or in your own town. In my humblest of opinions, that's what makes the challenge of running stairs even greater!


In recent weeks, I have been doing weekly stair workouts...not just for awesome cardio and lower-body strength, but also in prep for the Fight for Air Climb (Des Moines, IA on April 9th). Although my training has me in constant motion for 20-40 minutes, on event day my actual climbing time will be substantially shorter (last year, my finish time was 18:53). Also, on event day, I will be climbing four entire buildings, from the bottom to the top...not going up and down several times on a single flight of stairs.

Alas, here's five recent stair workouts that have left me winded (but exhilarated), sore (but ever stronger), and exhausted (but high on endorphins). Care to give any or all of them a try?

1 - Stella vs. 'Milly Interval Extravaganza Workout
I created this workout after spending too much time on my treadmill (her name is 'Milly). I incorporated intervals of treadmill running with a "pyramid" intervals on my stairway (and her name is Stella).


*10 sets of steps (one set = going up one flight and then coming back down)
*1/4 mile on the treadmill (incline on 2, pace set at 6.0)
*15 sets of steps
*1/4 mile on the treadmill (same as above)
*20 sets of steps
*1/4 mile on the treadmill (same as above)
*15 sets of steps
*1/4 mile of the treadmill (same as above)
*10 sets of steps 
*cool down (I walked for 5 minutes, but adjusted the pace setting to 4.0)

2 - Outdoor Elongated Stairway Challenge
I discovered a "little" gem of a stairway on the college campus near my house recently.  My indoor stairway has 12 steps and they're probably pretty "typical" in their depth and height. in comparison to other indoor stairways. This outdoor stairway has 18 steps, and they are elongated.....the incline is not as steep as an indoor stairway, and the steps themselves are longer in depth. In other words, single-stepping on these is closer (in stride-length) to double-stepping on a "regular" stairway, and taking the steps by two's is similar (in stride-length) to taking the steps by three's.  This really gave my long legs a challenge!
  

3 - Fast & Effective Stair Workout
If you're short on time, this workout will give you a good lower-body burn in approximately 20 minutes. I'm a tall gal (5'9), so "double-stepping" is pretty easy for me, and the "triple-stepping" is more of a slower, controlled balance move. For people with shorter legs, simply substitute the doubles for singles, and the triples for doubles.


4 - Arms & Legs Intervals on the Stairway
This is another interval workout that incorporates maneuvers both on and off the stairway. I did this workout on the outdoor stairway, which has the 18 elongated steps(mentioned above), but it could also be done inside on an indoor stairway.


5 - Strength-Based Balance-Burner Stair Workout
Interested in some intense balance moves? How about some fancy foot work? This workout involves double steps (for speed) as well as triple steps for strength and balance. The triple steps are performed at a much slower speed, due to the increased stride length required to perform them. This workout also adds a new element...side-stepping (instead of facing the stairs head-on, you climb while facing the handrail and alternate that with facing the wall). 



Some notes:
**I recommend a warm-up of some sort. A few minutes of power walking would suffice, as well as a bit of foam rolling on your quads, hammies and calves.
**Do the steps however you wish. Being tall, I always do doubles (taking the steps "by two's"), but periodically mix in a few sets of triples (you guessed it, taking the steps in 3-step intervals...these are a much slower, more controlled move).
**It can get difficult to keep accurate count of the steps; something that helps me is alternating which foot I start with...on all the "odd" sets, I start with  my right foot (r-i-g-h-t has 5 letters, which is an odd number) and on the "even" sets, I start with my left foot (l-e-f-t has 4 letters, which is an even number). Pure genius, I know. I wish I had the patent for that coding system.

What do you think? Care to give these a try? have you ever used stair-climbing as part of your cardio routine? 

As a side note, I should mention that the Fight for Air Climb is a national event with numerous venues across the United States and is affiliated with the American Lung Association. I have participated in the Des Moines venue four times (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016) and the Chicago venue once (2014). I have a passion for daily fitness, fun events (that are also challenging) and fresh air...and this event encompasses all of those. Also, I have known several people (who are former smokers) that have kicked butt (literally). My late mother-in-law was a lifelong smoker, and suffered from COPD in her later years....I climb in her memory every year. If you are interested, I do have a fundraising page for the 2017 Climb HERE .


I'm linking up with Meranda and Lacey and Rachel for their awesome Friday Five 2.0 Link-up. Today we're chatting about spring workouts....head over and see what's everyone's got to say about the matter.

I'm also linking with Nicole for her  Fit and Fashionable Friday link-up.






43 comments:

  1. These all look pretty tough! I think the last one would be fun to try, Im sure the side steps work out your legs in a whole new way.

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  2. All of these workouts look great! I would definitley try all of them, especially the stair workout.

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  3. I have not done stair workouts as part of my workouts. I am always impressed with yours though. I love the idea of doing it inside so when I fall on my head no one will see

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  4. I love these workouts! For some reason it never occurred to me that running stairs would be similar to hills. I also love that you named your staircase and your treadmill. That made me giggle. :)

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    1. The stairs are actually harder than most hills, but that's what makes them badazz ;-)

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  5. Thank goodness I'm in high race season so I have a good excuse not to try these! I'll have to remember them for the summer though, when it's too hot to run outside!

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    1. Ha ha ha!!! I'll be waiting to hear what you thing!

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  6. I love all of these workouts! My stair climb is next weekend(!) I should have been training like you've been. I didn't realize you have to climb multiple buildings, that's cool! I know you're gonna do great!

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  7. Back in the day (way pre-running) I used to start my workout with 30 mins. on the step mill. I still hit the step mill for 10-20 mins at least once a week. It is a great workout. I have friends who've been begging me to do a climb. SO far I've resisted.

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    1. Or simply come to Iowa and climb with me. Problem solved!

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  8. I definitely want to try one of these stair workouts this week. Don't let me forget! haha thanks for linking up!

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    1. I love your link-up...I need to head over and make sure I've read all the blogs there. I spent most of Friday afternoon in a car (and most of Saturday afternoon as well).

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  9. Every once in a while I do a stair workout at home and it's killer. I also live running distance to the "Exorcist" stairs - I should probably go run those occasionally...

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    1. I wish I had more options for "community" staircases...glad I discovered this outdoor one (and it's so close to my house)

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  10. I have never used the stairs but when I read your posts it always reminds me that I should!

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    1. Yes! Go find a stairway and get climbing ;-)

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  11. Good for you. I take the stairs (3rd fl) to my desk and take back down at the end of the day. That's it for me. At least I don't use the elevator like everyone else.

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    1. Any time you can take the stairs (instead of the elevator) is winning!

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  12. These workouts would kick my butt. But what a wonderful cause you're climbing for. <3

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    1. I bet you'd do alright on the stairs...you're in great shape!

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  13. I've done some stair workouts at home but not to the level you're doing them! Climbing 4 building sounds awesome. Do you get to go up to the rooftop and see the view from there?

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    1. I wish we could see the sights from the top! We get to the top floor and have to take the elevator down (almost immediately) and then make our way towards the next building.

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  14. I've never yet participated in a charity athletic event except by donating and spectating. I think it's a great way to raise awareness, and the lung association is a good cause. Just think how many people we know suffer with their asthma or COPD on high air pollution days, they need to be out there fighting for clean air (and against the powerful tobacco lobby). You have a lot of good variety in your stair workouts.

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    1. Thanks!!! And thanks for your donation....I appreciate your support! This charity is my passion....I detest smoke and want to encourage everyone to stay in shape and be able to enjoy life.

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  15. I've never done a stair workout, but I run mountain races so I probably should!

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    1. Oh gosh! You definitely are stair-race ready!

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  16. You know how much I love a good stair workout! I'm definitely going to try a few of these. Great workouts!

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    1. You should come to Iowa and climb with me! Or, look for a Fight for Air Climb near you!

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  17. I've always wanted to do the stair climbing challenge in the Hancock--I hope to do that some day.

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    1. Let me know....maybe I'll road trip back to ChiTown adn join you!

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  18. I love your workouts, especially the stairs workouts! I pinned this and will do one this weekend!!

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  19. You are the stair MASTER! Whew, those workouts make me winded just reading threw them! You will do great at your challenge !

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    1. Well, I still have a few weeks to go...hoping it goes well!

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  20. I continue to be amazed by all of your stair climbing workouts. You are a stairs beast!

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    1. Hey, the stairs are fun (in a challenging, heart-pumping, sort of way) ;-)

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  21. These are some awesome workouts!! I am going to do the fight for air climb in Tampa next year!!!

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