Running Stairs – The Most Badass Fat Loss Conditioning Drill… Ever!

Ever since I was a kid I remember being very winded when I had to climb up to the top of my building. And since lately I’ve been strapped for time, I decided to start running stairs when get home.

I’d just run up to the last floor and take the elevator down to my apartment.

There are very few people that run stairs and also very few people that don’t get winded when they climb a 8-9 storey building. Working the stairs makes girls trim and sexy and the dudes lean and mean.

This is why bodybuilders, soccer players, Shaolin monks and even Victoria’s secrets models keep their conditioning up with this drill

But many athletes such as basketball and soccer players, track athletes and martial artist include this drill in their conditioning. And for good reason. Running stairs kicks ass!

It melts fat and conditions you to be efficient at short distance sprinting such as running to catch the bus, scrimmaging on the basketball field, or rushing to get to class on time.

Running Stairs Technique

  • Step on every other step. I’ve found that it’s best to run stairs by skipping every other step. This manner of running ensures proper stride frequency and speed of running
  • Use your whole body. running and climbing are whole-body movements. Engage all your muscles – not just the legs.
  • Use the quads. Climb stairs by pushing with your thighs. Make sure not to completely extend your legs – this puts too much strain on your knees. Instead, run by keeping your legs semi-flexed throughout.
  • The role of the posterior chain. The muscles of the back of your legs – calves, hamstrings (back of your thighs) and glutes (your butt) are responsible for most of the movement that occurs in running and jumping. Don’t make the mistake to push through your knees only. Instead, try to use your posterior chain and extend your hips. Here is a post I wrote on this subject: Glute Activation.
  • Run on your toes. Just a quick note here – when running try to step on your toes or more specifically the place between your toes and your mid foot. That’s how all animals run – they step on their paws and on NOT their heels.
  • Use your arms. Make sure to use your arms to help you with the movement. Keep your elbows in, shoulders down (not shrugged) and your arms semi-flexed (like a sprinter).


Progressive Overload

  • Climb more stairs. The simplest way to increase the difficulty is to climb more storeys.
  • Run more rounds. A better option is, instead of climbing more storeys, to increase the number of times you climb the stairs.
  • Climb faster. Still better is to increase your speed. This will not give you more fat loss benefits, but will improve your conditioning level.
  • Climb slow but with a backpack. Another option – for hardcore guys or gals only – is to climb slowly but with a weighted vest or backpack on.

Stair Climbing Action Plan

  • Start small. Don’t rush it. Start with onle a few stairways and gradually increase your speed.
  • Increase difficulty once you get fitter. You will soon adapt and climbing the stairs will get easier. At this point increase the difficulty so that you continue getting fitter.
  • Add climbing stairs to your daily routine. I like to focus my training around my life and not the other way around. So evening when I get back from walking my Lab Lucky we sometimes go for a sprint up the building stairway. I don’t think he appreciates having to climb a nine storey building LOL.

Weight Loss and the Effectiveness of Exercise

In the video below nutritionist Brad Pilon explains how the effectiveness of exercise for fatloss drops as you progress towards your optimal weight. So even a running stairs routine will get less and less effective over time, as you lose weight. Here comes the need to use not only exercise, but also caloric restriction: eating less.

Brad Pilon is the author of the fat loss program Eat Stop Eat, the easiest diet program I’ve come across and one I have successfully been following for the past 2 years to control my body weight.

Babe by Georgie