PJ's Fitness Blog

A blog about a fitter you. Come find out what is on the cutting edge of fitness science and be a part of the ongoing conversation.

If You Want To Climb To New Fitness Heights, Take The Stairs!

roby1Stairs are the perfect activity for getting in shape fast. They are also one of the best fat burning workouts I’ve ever discovered I’m not talking about the StairMaster either, or even the Stepmill. I’m talking about real stairs. There is a big difference! X Gymer “Proby” pictured here is a good example of stair fitness success. He’s our last year’s Biggest Loser winner and one of our fastest stair climbers now!

Climbing real stairs in a building is both mentally and physically beneficial – beyond what you can imagine. Physically, it causes a visceral/instinctive reaction in your body that makes your heart and lungs change faster than any workout (outside the X Gym of course). It also burns fat better than anything besides X Gym methods.

When you push yourself hard up stairs, your body thinks you have moved to the mountains somewhere, and there are lots of sabertooth mountain goats chasing you. It then decides that it has to help you outrun these sabertooth mountain goats by increasing your lung capacity and circulatory system. It also realizes that it has to get rid of any weight that doesn’t contribute to your speed improvement. Since fat just sits there as extra baggage, it comes off first.

Other anaerobic sports are similar. Have you ever seen a fat professional soccer player? How about a chubby 100 meter Olympic sprinter? Stairs are even better for fitness and fat loss than these sports, because of the vertical component: your body has to go UP as well as forward. Going up fast is so much harder than going fast horizontally, and this causes your body to see even more need for drastic change in fitness and fat loss.

Stairs are tough though, so get clearance from your doctor and start slow. Begin with 4-5 floors only. When those are doable, add one floor at a time. When you get past 20, you are ready to turn it up a notch. At this point, start pacing yourself so you can sustain steady states the whole way. Download Roby’s MP3’s from the link provided on Greg’s cool new site www.flightclubseattle.com to help with your pace. Start with the 15 second pace click track and hit a landing with every click. When you can get to your goal floor on pace, download the next fastest track and work on that one.

Mentally, it’s an incredible achievement, and a huge endorphin rush. If you go more than 10 times, you will most likely get addicted. You will start seeking out new buildings to climb and new personal records to set. If you want to see how well the X Gym does at setting records, click here: WaMu climb results or here: Columbia climb results

Two very important things to remember: start slow and always have a way out at the top! Too many people start way too fast and then burn out or barf by floor 19. It’s also murder on your joints and muscles to go down stairs, so figure a way to get out on the floor you have set for your goal.

The thing I like most about stairs is that it is quick! Our group takes anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes to climb the buildings we do, and the equivalent workout when compared to regular cardio is about 3 hours, so it’s pretty easy to see the time savings here. Climbing stairs is also super easy on the knees. Stairs are even easier on your joints than walking, so almost anyone can do them.

Try it out! Get yourself hooked! You might just find your new favorite workout. Just make sure you give it at least 10 tries though before you decide whether you like it or not. You probably won’t at first, but if you give it a chance to grow on you, it probably will, and then you will find yourself in fantastic shape with a whole bunch of extra time to spend that you aren’t wasting on your long workouts anymore!



5 Responses to “If You Want To Climb To New Fitness Heights, Take The Stairs!”

  1. Taz says:

    Sabertooth Mtn Goats, huh?….and all this time I thought they were Rabid Kangaroos! I can vouch for it being a super fast fat burner and what can I say?…I’m addicted!

    Darn this article though, cuz I forsee the stairwells in Seattle getting a bit more crowded!Way to go lettin’ everyone know PJ!!

  2. pat r says:

    that is one sexy picture there.

  3. sn says:

    this is great – i have been doing the eastlake stairs for a while now but i tend to do them in a 40 minute workout and run/hike them about 3-5 times. the workout completely exhausts me and makes me unable to do much else which in turn means that i don’t do other cardio in the days following doing stairs. but now this gives me a whole new (and so obvious idea). i should do the stairs in my office building on a regular basis – as a workout, building endurance, not just “hey, i’ll walk up the stairs today!”

    • PJ Glassey says:

      Great idea! That will cut your time down considerably. My stair workouts are never more than 8 minutes long!

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