What else can be done in those magic stairwells?
Virgil Aponte explains how stair climbing can be used to develop your anaerobic condition
In my previous articles I have looked at how stair climbing can be used to develop anaerobic condition, lower body strength and power. Now here are some ideas I have come across over the years to make stair climbing workouts more intense, more fun, and more interesting.
With a jump rope you can increase the intensity of your workout simply by skipping before or after your stair climbs. We have used them before and after climbs as well as in between flights. The use of a jump rope is also an excellent way to warm up. Also, keep in mind, if you have access to only a few flights a jump rope can really help here. One client of mine actually only has access to 2 flights of stairs. So she jumps for 30 seconds climbs 2 flights and then jumps again for 30 seconds and so on. I really do not understand why many athletes do not use a jump rope to warm up. Especially athletes that jump a lot like volleyball and basketball players. I guess because it is so simple many people just dismiss it. It is too simple and low tech so it must not be good (not true). Even though a jump rope is a very simple piece of equipment and very affordable, if you really get into jump roping the work can be brutal.
Dumbbells & Barbells
Weights can be used to increase the intensity of the aerobic and anaerobic work, lunges or can be used to do exercises between your climbs. I have used dumbbells to increase resistance in my lunge workouts and I have also done climbs with 40 pound dumbbells in each hand just to try something new. I got the idea from an athlete whose father is a construction worker. He told his son that climbing stairs with sand-filled buckets is a true test of anyone's strength. He was certainly on to something.
A weighted vest can be used to add resistance to your climbs and make them more intensive. I have used weighted vests for almost anything that you can do in stair climbing. I love using them for power workouts to add resistance.
Calisthenics or bodyweight exercises
Calisthenics can be used between climbs to improve strength and/or conditioning. I have used anything you can think of between climbs. I have done push-ups, squats, handstand push-ups and you name it.
What program could not benefit from the strategic use of stretching? I usually stretch my chronically tight areas after my first climb to the top and in between climbs while I am waiting for the elevators. I also do a more complete stretch after my workout is done.
Who might you find using Stair Exercises?
Everyone I know who has tried stair exercises rave about how effective they are and many who did not like it told me that it was just too dam tough. Why it is not talked about? I really do not know. Maybe because it is not glamorous or high tech people dismiss it.
One Final Note
Sometimes we forget to use our environment. As a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach and a physical education teacher I often hear things like "I cannot get to a gym", "we do not have enough time" or "we just do not have the facilities". Sometimes we get caught up in thinking we need the latest high tech whatever to achieve fitness, athletic or any goals related to exercise.
In reality we are all blessed with the most high tech equipment available (our own mind and body). Just take a look around you. A stairwell, a park, monkey bars, and the list goes on and on. Forget about what you do not have and focus on what you do have. In my experience it is usually more than enough to get the job done.
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About the Author
Virgilio Aponte received his Masters Degree in Physical Education and has been an American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer since 1994. He has helped people from all walks of life reach their strength and health goals.
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