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Stair Climbing Vs Running

You may be a fairly accomplished runner and like to go out running five days a week, running parkrun in twenty or so minutes, yet when you try and walk up two flights of stairs to your office instead of taking the lift, you are left panting and gasping for air! Why is that? Well stair climbing is very different to running…. but which is better?

  • High impact vs low impact – We all know that running is pretty high impact but what you may not realise, is just how low impact stair climbing is. It is the perfect opportunity to work all the important lower-body muscles without loading them with too much force and impact. Stair climbing involves running vertically whereas going for a run requires you to move horizontally. The vertical motion and action of briefly standing on one leg at a time, forces you to stabilise your lower-body muscles such as the glutes that would usually be neglected during running. It is the strengthening and stabilising of these muscles that will help to reduce your chances of injury when you do go out for a run!

  • Weather - Stair training or racing is unaffected by the weather. You won’t have to put up with wind and rain or sweltering heat (unless the building has left the radiators on!). The only affect the weather will have on stair climbing is how good your view is at the top.

  • Burn more calories – As a ‘vigorous’ form of exercise, stair climbing burns more calories than jogging (of course, this is all relative depending on effort). When you climb stairs, the body is working harder because it is moving upwards and forwards as opposed to just forwards when you run therefore engaging a larger number of muscles and using more energy.

  • Minimal equipment required – Something true of both stair climbing and running is that they are both readily available and easy to do – you really don’t need anything other than a pair of trainers and a building/path/park. Although if you are being picky, ideally you would want a building with at least 10 floors to really maximise your workout…

  • Intensity – Interval running sessions can be absolutely brutal, if you have done one and pushed yourself, you will know. Now imagine doing that session up a set of stairs at 65% gradient – super intense! It is this intensity that pushes your body to the limit and why stair workouts are proven to improve your V02 max (the amount of oxygen your body can take in and deliver to your muscles during exercise). So clearly, improving your VO2 max will help you run faster and longer, now who doesn't want that?

Considering all of the above we go back to the original question, which is better, stair climbing or running? Well our answer is, BOTH! If you love stair climbing then why not supplement your stair training with one run each week and if you love running then considering all of the above benefits, adding one stair session to your training plan each week could drastically improve your running!

A typical stair session from one of our Total Motion Towerrunners:

4 x 35 floors

  • 1 x 35 floors steady as a warm up

  • 3 x 35 floors, alternate 5 x fast, 5 x easy walk

(Just beware, you may look like this at the end...)

Ready for the stairs?

Take on the 35 floors / 877 steps of one of London's iconic skyscrapers.

Choose from an individual climb, 1/4 vertical mile or a full vertical mile as well as family climb options - there is something for everyone.

Looking for a Total Motion Stair Climb to compete in? Why not check out our upcoming events, non charity places are usually available too

Please sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear about new events as we release details or for more information on tower running and our exclusive training sessions join our online communities:

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