Take Your Endurance Training to the Stairs

Lisa Zeigel on Baldwin Hill Scenic Overlook

From recreational to elite, athletes need a change of pace to boost endurance and strength, and in this case, a change of scenery as well. Taking training to outdoor stairways is a sure way to accomplish your goals. Doug and Joanne Beyerlein began searching the northwest corridor for outdoor stairways in 1999. Since then, they have created a public stairs website of locations across the country and Canada. Doug says, "I embarked on a journey that today, now some 14 years later, is still taking me to new and exciting places."

More: Intro to Stair Climbing

All climbers agree that the climb up is exhilarating, but the descent can wreak havoc on your joints. Stresses Lisa Zeigel of Health Fitness Corporation, "Going down the hill takes a bit of time and I prefer to take trails down rather than the stairs as the eccentric resistance can cause excessive muscle soreness and wear on the joints."

The suggested workouts for each stairway range from full speed sprints to slow and steady endurance plans.

Red Rocks Amphitheater: Golden, Colorado

Red Rocks is known nationally for its famous music venue. For athletes, it is a haven for pushing the limits in the altitude. Sitting at 6,000 feet high, Red Rocks has two staircases on either side of the amphitheater that rise from the lower parking lot to the upper concession level, each with about 380 steps. There are two interior stairways on either side of the bleachers each with 138 steps from the stage to the top. Red Rocks features 69 rows of seats in the venue, which equates to running approximately three miles on an ascent or descent of the bleachers. Add in 21 planter boxes for plyo jumps, side stairways that climb from the stage to the upper parking lot with 83 steps, which then connect by way of an ascending quarter-mile ramp to 62 steps straight up to the upper concession area; you have a challenging workout amidst some of the best scenery in the Rocky Mountains.

Suggested Workout

Oyvind Gulbrandsen, Viking Power Fitness, Greenwood Village

  • Warm up with a steady climb up and down either side of the amphitheater two times.
  • Zig Zag run the bleachers every other row up and down.
  • Frog jump rows one to 25 on the bleachers two times.
  • Sprint the stairs on the side of the amphitheater 10 times and walk down.
  • Do single leg hops on side stairs every alternating legs every flight from row one to 30. Repeat five times.
  • Go full speed up the 62-step stairway.
  • Total workout: About 75 to 90 minutes, 4,622 steps up, 5K, 50 frog hops, and 150 single step hops per leg.

More: Vertical Training vs. Horizontal Training

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook: Culver City, California

Located in Baldwin Hills Conservancy, the staircase in the heart of the overlook is a straight and seriously steep climb that challenges even the most fit climber. Climbing 282 stone steps, athletes gain 315 feet in elevation in approximately one-quarter mile. Reaching the summit, climbers are awarded a panoramic view of the mountains, ocean and the Los Angeles basin.

Suggested Workout

Lisa Zeigel, Health Fitness Corporation, Altadena, California

Climb the first set up going as fast as possible; keep track of time

  • Alternate intervals of fast paced climbs with slow and steady climbs.
  • A good measure is to emulate the number of stairs in a building for each interval—about 20—and alternate fast and steady repetitions.
  • Repeat as many sets of intervals as possible timing each set and aiming for consistency, usually seven sets.
  • Finish at the top with step-ups on the concrete bench, calf raises, squats and lunges
  • Total workout: around 60 to 75 minutes, 4,200 steps up, nearly a mile of elevation gain, and dozens of leg work repetitions.
More: Your 7-Day Stair Climbing Workout Plan

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