When results matter more than entertainment, go for the biggest bang for your buck, time, and effort. Stair climbing/running is a time tested way to achieve exceptional legs, stamina, and burn fat…fast!!! We refer to them as skyscraper sprints because:
- It sounds awesome
- …and I forgot number 2!
However, in reality we don’t use a skyscraper, and we don’t necessarily sprint either. Even a modest pace of climbing stairs two at a time with a hand on the railing will work much better than any cardio machine. Got a sore joint that doesn’t like two stairs at a time? Go one stair at a time and smooth out the fascia in your legs until the joint pain goes away.
The key to skyscraper sprints is safe execution. The stairs must have rails, and your hands should always be within their reach. Your shoe laces should be double knotted, the stairs dry, and while you may go full speed up the stairs you always walk down one stair at a time WITH A HAND ON THE RAIL. No music in your ears; pay attention to what you are doing, this is an exercise in concentration too. Seriously, no injuries…do not fall.
A consistent repeatable way to perform skyscraper sprints is to chose a distance: I suggest 3, 5, or (gasp) 8 flights of stairs…no more! Perform your routine in a work/rest mode for time: believe me 10 minutes is plenty. Ease into this: figure on 5 sessions before attempting your best effort. At a pace your can control, move up the stairs 1 or 2 at a time, hand within reach of the rail, paying attention to your balance and what is around you (like other people). That is your work phase. Coming down the stairs is the rest phase, as you will NOT being attempting to go fast, but to go carefully.
It isn’t necessary to go full speed/power in order for this to work. Skyscraper sprints, when performed 2 steps at a time, are a hybrid strength/power/cardio exercise and highly functional and effective even at a 70% pace. Your focus is not on how many stairs you can cover, it’s on safe execution, and how the exercise will make you look, feel, and perform better when it’s over. You can climb the stairs with a walk, run, or leap, but only with utmost safety!!! Morons who get hurt because you are reckless…you know who you are!! Stop it!
Use what you have: only have 3 flights of stairs? Great! Use them! Have 10 flights of stairs? Great! You have options: chose a different height each time. A no frills approach to lower body fitness is to do skyscraper sprints 3 times a week, alternating heights each time and one step versus two steps, and throw in some corrective exercises for your lower body if needed. You will quickly burn away excess fat (if you combine with diet), become a cardio machine, and do it without the impact of jogging on your joints.