Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stair Climbing ... Race?

Yesterday: 60 min full-body weight session + 60 min spin class
Today: Gold's Gym: 45 minute Step Mill + full body weight circuit using kettlebell

I love running. But I hate running on treadmills. Unless I'm doing tabata's or sprint intervals (then it's a great way to force myself to run faster than I think* I can.) Thrillmill, dreadmill, treadmill ... It has it's purpose.

So, since I can't run outside, which is 90% of the time (because it's too hot, too dark, I'd be running on on the side of a highway), and you know how much I love treadmills, I went in search of a new burn.

Enter Step Mill: I have used it a handful of times since joining Golds, and freaking love it! Who says that about such a torturous looking device? For the first time, I fight to climb flights of stairs and not distance and miles. A lot of people can say they've run Boston, but not that they ran the Empire State Building. Just sayin'. 

Why else do I love this bad boy?
  • It replicates the real world
  • Works the all the major muscles of the legs
  • Because few enough people use them that you can usually find one that isn’t taken
  • Great Cardiovascular exercise
  • The variety of foot positions keeps you from ‘hamster wheel syndrome’
  • Not for your average gym goers, also great for high level athletes
As the screen flickers and I see that I've conquered over two hundred flights of stairs at a pretty break-neck speed, I wonder ... is a stair-climbing race in my future?

Look what else I found in the awesome world of stair climbing and stair climb racing! Laugh all you want, but the burn that my ass and my hamstrings feels is enough to keep me coming back for more, race or no race! Here's a legit video on how to safely and correctly use a Step Mill. I should have watched it the first time I jumped on one, because I was tripping all over the place.

Once you've mastered the contraption, you can maximize the the workout a few ways:
  • Increase the speed, really focus on pressing through your heels. You'll feel the burn in NO time.
  • Slow the machine to a 2 or 3, and do leg lifts. Slowly raise your leg back and behind you, like a leg lift, squeezing through the glute. Like a dancer. ;) 
  • Walk laterally, or sideways, to target the inner and outer thigh. 
  • Do not lean forward. Lean backward. Think about squeezing through your hamstring and your glute!
  • Let go of the handrails. This require some pretty decent balance and works the entire core, just as with running. Adjust the speed accordingly.
You can also simply adjust your feet accordingly! 
  • Regular position
  • With feet wide
  • With feet narrow
  • At a 45 degree angle to one side
  • Regular position stepping slowly then quickly stepping up (think about waiting ’til the last second to step up with the other foot)
  • Angling the feet so they are pointed 45 degrees out
  • Angling the feet so they are pointed 45 degrees in
  • 2 steps at a time
Up next? Steeplechase Championships! 


  1. I found the awesome stairmill when dealing with a foot injury. I was unable to run, so I'd climb on that machine for an hour at a time. Intervals? Sure! That works great, AND you're not bouncing around so you can watch Netflix on your phone.
    I love me some stairmill.

  2. Great post. I have such a love/hate relationship with the stepmill. Love what it does for my legs, hate how miserable it can get. I have done my HIIT routine on this and it's amazing. I have also tried double stepping the stairs, supposed to activate more of your calves.

  3. You should check out the Fight For Air race by the American Lung Association; it's held in numerous cities across the country. You race 100 floors for time and with all this stair climbing you love, you'll be great at it! It was one of the hardest races I've ever done... it feels so much harder than just a road race. The burn in my legs, glutes, and lungs was unrivaled!

  4. Love this post. I will have to try the stair mill!

  5. You need to come do the willis tower, nov 4. :)

  6. There was a time I was rather careless and while running in the morning I fell down on the ground. The doctor said that even one day more could result in amputation. Follow the link to read an article intended to this injuries.

  7. This is really great to see the progress of your work after day-to-day struggle. It worth it.