My First Stair Workout in Seven Months

Woohoo! I’m back on the stairs!

It’s been, oh, seven months since I’ve had a good workout on the stairs. I’ve missed it. When the pandemic first started flaring up, all my upcoming stair races got cancelled. All the gyms in my state were forced to close, so I couldn’t use a StairMaster. I didn’t want to risk venturing out to the few public stair options in my area, since it’s hard to stay socially distant on stairs, so I stayed home. I try to do a step workout once a week at home, and do other exercises that engage the muscles in my legs that are used while climbing stairs, but none of that is the same as actually climbing stairs.

I realized a few weeks ago that my new home is incredibly close to a big public high school. It’s literally less than five minutes away. Out back there’s a gorgeous football stadium, with big, tall bleachers. The perfect spot for a stair workout! I drove there Saturday morning, with my fingers crossed. I had no Plan B for the workout. Hopefully they weren’t behind locked gates. Hopefully they weren’t crawling with people.

YES! It was unlocked and I had the whole place to myself! (Excluding a few people running laps around the track.)

The bleachers have seven aisles. Five of them have 40 steps to the top, but there are two aisles that go a bit higher, to the press box doors. Those aisles have 52 steps.

I started at one end, and climbed each aisle once, single-stepping, until I had made it to the other end. Then I climbed each aisle a second time, double-stepping the whole way. Then I climbed up the benches, in between the aisles, which is also double-stepping, but with more balance work, since there are no handrails. Then I did each aisle one more time, single-stepping.

My goal wasn’t speed. It was just to keep moving. Allow my heart rate to go up on the ascents, and then cool down with slow descents. I only paused a couple times for water.

I thought returning to stairs after so many months away would be absolutely miserable, but that wasn’t the case at all. My form and technique were piss-poor, but the stairs themselves weren’t terribly hard, nor did I get especially winded. (Again, I wasn’t pushing myself beyond moderate.)

That workout took about thirty minutes. But I wasn’t done. There’s bleachers on the other side of the field, too! These looked smaller – not as tall, and not as wide. I’m not the sort to leave stairs unclimbed, so I walked to the other side, and started climbing more stairs.

This side has six aisles, and all are the same height, with 30 steps in each. I climbed every aisle single-stepping, and then climbed every aisle a second time, double-stepping, and then climbed up the benches six times. That brought me to 18 climbs. I decided to bring it up to an even 20 climbs, and ended my workout with two all-out sprints. Each took me six seconds. I was super happy that I didn’t slow down on the second one.

Time for some stair math!

  • 22 climbs x 40-step aisle = 880
  • 6 climbs x 52-step aisle = 312
  • 20 climbs x 30-step aisle = 600
  • GRAND TOTAL = 1,792 steps climbed! (And, conversely, 1,792 additional steps descended.)

For the sake of comparison, that’s 128 steps more than at the US Bank Tower in Los Angeles, a race I’ve done six times.

I left there feeling really good about myself. That’s a really difficult workout, and I impressed myself with how much I could do, after so much time away. I’m proud that I’ve kept myself in shape in other ways during this pandemic, and I’m motivated to keep moving, and hopefully turn these bleachers in a frequent workout facility this fall. I’m already thinking of ways I can switch up my workout there next weekend.

The next day, though, was tough. I was so sore, and my legs were incredibly tight. I loosened them up by taking JJ on a five-mile hike on the Paint Creek Trail. I hadn’t hiked this portion of it before, and it was a beautiful spot to be outdoors on a really lovely September morning.

Between the stairs and the hike, I spent roughly 2.5 hours this weekend exercising outdoors. Winter will be here in a few months, so I have to make this a trend while I still can!

Keep it up, David!


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4 Responses to My First Stair Workout in Seven Months

  1. Rachel Coles says:

    Thanks for the update, David! I love your blog, and I love when you update. I agree with you; stair are a different type of exercise altogether.

  2. lunchmuffin says:

    Love the small town access to everything. Back forty years ago they used to leave Owen Stadium (Oklahoma Sooners stadium) open from sunrise to sunset. I thought I was in good shape back then so I went with the intention of running all the stairs. That thing is steep! I only did about one half of the steps on the lower level west side and I was done in. So maybe 1/20th of them all?

    Be careful running on the benches on those small town bleachers David. I’ve done it too but there are no kick boards on those things, and they get squirrely, you really have to pay attention on ever step you take or it can be very dangerous.

    You are a rock David, keep it up!

    • David says:

      Ohhh I’m so jealous, I’d love access to a collegiate stadium for stair training! Thanks for the kind words – hope you’re doing well too! Good to hear from you again.

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