Running is an incredible way to keep your body fit and healthy, no matter how fast or far you go. John Brigham once said, “If you run, you’re a runner,” it’s as simple as that. But for those of us that take running a little more seriously, having an edge can make all the difference. Enter the world of stair climbing.

Stair climbing can help to strengthen the same core muscles that lunges and squats would, while also challenging your lungs and heart. This type of training can be compared to “jump training” or plyometrics, which is known to be incredibly beneficial for athletes. When you climb stairs, your body engages in both horizontal and vertical movements. Running or walking on the stairs requires your muscles to work against gravity and move in vertical patterns, which places high demands on your glutes and hamstrings in a way that (as a runner) you may not be used to. The leg muscles lift your body weight against the pull of gravity, providing them with more stability and definition.

According to Brandon Franklin, a certified master trainer and performance enhancement specialist, stair climbing employs the larger muscles in your body that are often neglected during a run. Anne Moore, an exercise physiologist and running coach in Charleston, South Carolina, states that stair climbing is highly effective at increasing your heart rate and oxygen intake, which improves your maximum oxygen utilization during intense exercise (VO2 max). A higher VO2 max means you can run harder and for longer periods.

Research also shows that stair climbing promotes better muscle conditioning and versatility, which are crucial for runners and sprinters. Additionally, stair climbing improves your posture, leading to increased abdominal strength and mobility efficiency. With just a few weeks of practice, you may surprise yourself with better agility and speed.

You don’t need an expensive stepper machine to incorporate stair climbing into your training. You can find stairs in your apartment building, office, train stations, and shopping malls. Stairs are easy to spot, making them a convenient addition to your running routine. So, next time you’re looking for a way to enhance your running or simply want to become a better runner, try adding a stair climb to feel the difference!

Want to check out a stair climbing event? This is what we do and we’d love to give you a reason to take the stairs! Check out our events here.

Related: Seven things about stair climbing that may surprise you

Related: Training for a stair climb