Test Your Endurance at the Incline

There are times when athletes, whether they're intermediate or advanced, need to step it up and push themselves to new limits. Outdoor stair climbing at The Incline in Manitou Springs, Colorado, is just that type of challenge. The most intense outdoor stairway in the nation, the Incline has a little bit of everything: steep grade, quick altitude gain, oxygen depletion and muscle burn.

What you lack in oxygen, you gain in inspiration. The views are outrageously gorgeous and the accomplishment superior. And, if you choose to push yourself further, there are nearly 10 miles of trails traversing the mountain.

MoreIntro to Stair Climbing

Jayme Knight of Knight and Day Fitness and Matz Shumway of Ballistic Sports Performance share an elite workout plan to get in shape for your first Incline trek. "The Edmund Hillary (named after the first person to climb Mount Everest) is our workout plan that is designed to train athleticism and improve performance, especially for a challenging climb like this one," Knight describes. "This is going to make you wonder why you are doing this and who you are. My advice is to start thinking happy thoughts because these 16 exercises are total body, mind and desire," says Shumway.

The duo says of the workout, "Try this butt kickin', brow sweatin' and callin' for your momma workout that will get you ready to conquer the Incline."

MoreVertical Training vs. Horizontal Training

The Actual Climb

"The Incline is an old abandoned cable tram railway that was originally completed in 1907. The Manitou Incline was a popular tourist attraction until 1990, when a massive rockslide damaged the tracks," explains Knight.

Shumway adds, "The demographics of the climb are pretty simple—it is short and steep. Climbing about 3/4 of a mile in length, you gain nearly 2,000 feet in elevation. For those of you doing the math right now, that's an average of 50.5-degrees elevation gain. That's well over half of perpendicular. And due to the nature of the leftover tracks, the steps aren't anywhere close to uniform."

Tips For a Successful Climb

"When most people begin to climb they start off way too fast and burn out very quickly. The most important piece of advice is to pace yourself and maintain a steady and constant rhythm. One technique is to use smaller steps and 'chip away' at it.

This is by far the most efficient tactic. There are plenty of opportunities to take larger steps, but when you can, keep it short and sweet. Be sure to maintain your center of balance in a slightly forward position so you don't fall backward," Shumway says with a grin.

More: Stair Workouts for Endurance Athletes

The descent is challenging as well, but Knight suggests some tips to prevent injury and retain enough energy to repeat the climb two or three times.

 "Nature is the greatest gym in the entire world!" Jayme Knight

"When going down imagine you're skiing an epic powder day and keep your center of balance slightly forward. Don't sit back or you're going to end up on the ground. Most people don't realize that going downhill actually uses three times more energy than going up. Try not to fight gravity too much, but rather embrace it and let it work in your favor. If you choose to run down, using a longer stride length is paramount. Keep your steps light and your feet moving fast. One way to maintain your balance and velocity is to pump your arms hard and fast."

Try the Edmund Hillary Workout to prepare yourself for this intense climb.

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