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How to Run Stairs, According to a Fitness Expert



No matter how many miles I run or HIIT workouts I sweat through – jogging up the stairs is still guaranteed to leave me in the wind. Something to do with the combination of cardio and activation of multiple muscle groups (cheeks, quadrupeds, glutes and core) makes it a welcome challenge. I even know that I have included several fields in my runways just to burn lactic acid into my squares.

While performing only a few fields, there is the benefit of increasing heart rate and muscle work, a complete staircase is another beast. Therefore, you may want to add a workout routine to your schedule and how to do it safely. (Careful on those knees!)

Why is running stairs good for you?

"Running stairs is a powerful workout for many reasons," says Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, exercise physiologist and fitness consultant at Bowflex. It burns the basic calories while strengthening the muscles of the legs, glutes and core muscles. This is also a functional workout: Regular stair running will help to condition and strengthen the muscles you use to walk up and down stairs and slopes on a daily basis. Tom noted that if you want to add more intense interval training (HIIT) to your schedule, stairs are a great choice. Running up the stairs is the working interval; jogging or walking back down is your vacation.

How to Run Stairs Safely

"Like any new workout, start slowly when running up stairs," Tom told POPSUGAR. Run at a comfortable pace and lean slightly forward. You want to land on your toes as lightly as possible and keep your hands comfortable swinging, he said. And if jogging is out of your reach right now, start with a walk. Running up stairs, like running on flat ground, is a powerful effect; it's important to slowly expand things and allow your joints and muscles to get used to the workout. As you get stronger, you can increase the intensity with faster speeds and more reps.

As you walk at the right pace for your body, Tom said, running up the stairs should not present an increased chance of injury. Just be careful and focused during your workout because it's easy to slip and fall if you don't pay attention.

25-minute outdoor staircase workout

Tom created this quick workout to help you reap all the cardio and strengthen the benefits of climbing stairs in a short amount of time. You can do this workout for as long as 25 minutes or 11, whatever time you have today!

  • Heat for three to five minutes with an easy walk or light jogging on flat ground.
  • Complete up stairs at a comfortable heavy pace. Walk slowly back down to recover. Repeat for five to 15 minutes.
  • Cool for three to five minutes with easy walking or light jogging on level ground.

"Adding stairs once a week to your workout will be a phenomenal addition to your overall exercise program," said Tom. (If you prefer the StairMaster over the regular staircase, try this 28-minute glute-focused scheme.)

Image source: Getty / Peter Griffith


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