Why Runners Need to Run Stairs

Priscila Serff
by Priscila Serff
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Why Runners Need to Run Stairs

Running stairs is a completely different exercise than running on flat ground. Who can forget the movie “Rocky,” in which Sylvester Stallone runs up the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art? Running stairs is tough but it’s definitely worth the effort.

According to Sandra Gallagher-Mohler, CEO and run coach at iRunTons, periodically incorporating stair running into your training can be beneficial to improving your performance. “It helps to enhance leg strength and power while also working your anaerobic system,” explains Gallagher-Mohler.

Brandon Franklin, a certified master trainer and a performance enhancement specialist, says the benefits of running stairs include increased muscular endurance in your legs, greater overall cardiovascular endurance and longer recovery time if programmed correctly. It’s also a great way to mix up your workout routine and release endorphins.


According to Franklin, this exercise works the bigger muscles in your body and is extremely efficient at burning calories and spiking your heart rate.

Here are four stair workouts. Two are easy-to-adopt plans programmed by Gallagher-Mohler and two are advanced plans programmed by Franklin.


  • 6x (2x surge up and down)
  • Perform a 400m run between sets


  • 10x high-knee drills on the steps going up, easy run down

STAIR WORKOUT #3 (with access to track)

  • 1/4 mile run forward
  • Stair climb, 4 minutes
  • 1/4 mile run backward
  • Lateral stair climb, 2 minutes each side
  • 1/4 mile run forward
  • Stair climb, 4 minutes
  • 1/4 mile run backward
  • Lateral stair climb, 2 minutes each side
  • Finish with stair sprints 5–10 repetitions

Complete as many rounds as possible in 15–20 minutes (1 round = 5 flights). Complete each exercise for one flight and cycle to the next move.

  • Stair climb each step
  • Stair climb skipping a step
  • Lateral climb, right side
  • Lateral climb, left side
  • Squat jumps each step


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About the Author

Priscila Serff
Priscila Serff

Priscila is a Brazilian-born runner, triathlete and gym rat who is addicted to studio classes. Based in Baltimore, she’s a journalist turned digital marketing/social media expert. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Runner’s World and Woman’s Health. She loves to run outdoors, especially with her family: baby Sophie (in the jogging stroller since she was only six months) and her husband Adriano, an ultra marathoner.


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