Firefighter Stairclimb events have become very popular and a lot of firefighters (as competitive as you all can be) are asking: how can I improve my time?
The best way to train for a stairclimb is….yep, climbing stairs. However, extremely repetitive stair climbing can put your lower body joints, especially the knees, at risk for overuse injuries. Having inflamed knees would obviously be counterproductive to your training and your performance at the stairclimb competition.
The solution is to mix stairclimbing in with other exercises that will also improve lower body muscular endurance – the component of fitness that you want to develop. Further, if you’re wearing your gear and pack, you’ll need to work a little on upper body muscular endurance so those muscles don’t fatigue too quickly, which would compromise your posture and your ultimately your performance.
Below is a workout designed to work the intended muscles, in the right way, for performance at a stairclimb with gear. I’ve combined several exercises into one to make it more efficient and dynamic.
The Firefighter Stairclimb Workout
This is intended to be a circuit so you will do it more than once in one workout. Start with two times and add more as you improve.
Warm-up with 30 jumping jacks, 30 butt-kicks (run in place and kick your feet up to your glutes each time) and 30 forward leg swings (taking large steps, swing the opposite leg as high as you can)
Deadlift to Upright Row – 10 repetitions
Holding two hand weights, bend at your waist with a slight bend in your knees. Keeping your back completely flat, let your weight shift onto your toes as you lower the weights to just below knee level. Then drive your hips forward to stand up, squeezing your glutes and hamstrings. Once standing, bend the elbows and bring the weights up to chest level to complete the upright row.
Note: for the deadlift, I do not recommend much bend in the knees as that makes it more of a quadriceps exercise, nor bringing the weights all the way down to the floor. Click here to see an example.
Squat to Row – 10 repetitions
Holding on to a cable/pulley or a resistance tube wrapped around a secure surface, squat down making sure to stick your butt out and shift your weight onto your heels. Upon standing, pull handles back and squeeze the shoulder blades together to complete the row. Click here to see an example.
Walking lunges – 10 on each leg
Do this without weights or with light weights. The biggest mistake people make with walking lunges is letting their front knee come forward. So, with each lunge, take your time to shift your weight back, bring your hips straight down, and keep your front knee right above the ankle. Here is a good example of correct form (you will notice that the subject looks wobbly – that’s because doing them this way is much more difficult than letting your knees come forward!)
5-minute run with incline
On a treadmill, run at a light/warm-up pace for 1 minute. Now increase the speed to a light jog and increase the incline to at least 6%. Do this for 2 minutes. Now bring the incline back to 0 and increase the speed to a faster jog. Do this for 2 minutes. If outside, find a hill to run up.
Stair-climbing for 5 minutes
Using real stairs or a stairclimbing machine, match the pace that you want to be at for the competition for 5 minutes.
Are you competing at a Stairclimb event this year or have you in the past? Where at?
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