I work on the 5th floor of a 7 story building, and prefer the stairs over the elevator. I'm in moderately good shape, walking 1.5 miles each way to/from work every day, and usually working in a 1-3 mile run/walk at lunchtime.

But the walk up the 5 flights of stairs leaves me frustratingly winded, so I've decided to start training stair climbing endurance specifically.

I can think of a couple of routines that might be the right thing for me to do, but I'm not sure which one to choose:

  1. climb the 7-story building slowly, climb back down, climb up again slowly, be completely worn out, or
  2. climb up 2-3 stories at a normal pace, cross the building to another staircase, climb down 2-3 stories, cross the building, climb up 2-3 stories at a normal pace.

I can sustain #2 for quite a while because of the built-in cool-down times. #1, on the other hand, is more like what I'm trying to get good at, but I've got totally rubbery legs by the end of 2 reps of it.

Which is the right approach to get good at a 5 floor climb without being so winded that it's hard to talk?

  • even extremely fit people can have a hard time with stairs. when/if you find out why, let me know. Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 21:05
  • @RyanMiller - Simple answer - gravity.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 21:25

1 Answer 1


I think both 1 and 2 would be helpful, and your training plan should include both.

In exercise 1, you are working on your endurance, similar to the long run that most runners do about once a week. By going slowly, you'll stimulate the growth of more capillaries, which will become new pathway for delivering oxygen to your muscles. In time, you'll be able to go the distance with less fatigue.

In exercise 2, by moving a little more quickly (with rest breaks) you are teaching your cardiovascular system to run better during periods of more intense work. This technique (known as interval training) will help your body become used to working harder before "redlining."

If you were to do a stair workout 4-5 days per week, I would recommend doing exercise 1 once or twice, and exercise 2 three or four times.

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