Most days, climbing the stairs is all the exercise I get. We have stairs at home, and I skip the elevator at work as a matter of principle. On the theory that repetition ("reps") promotes tone and endurance while exertion promotes strength, when I'm climbing I tend to go two steps at a time.

In addition to making the work harder, this produces a more normal walking pace, instead of the "fast march" of single step climbing. It's more of a glide up the stairs instead of a staccato dance. After a while, maybe ten years, double-stepping during ascension becomes natural and easy. (Double stepping while descending is dangerous, so I don't recommend it.)

So, if it feels so natural, how do you build strength? The answer is tripple-stepping. Yes, now when I want to exert myself I climb staircases three steps at a time. This is pretty hard. You have to not only lift your body mass a significant amount, there's a balance aspect to it that takes some getting used to. You have to get your your whole body moving upward and forward, or you'll be stuck lifting your center of mass one step behind your front foot.

Usually, I wind up mixing styles during an extended climb, partially because few staircases have a number of steps in each flight that is divisible by three. I'll start out single-stepping on the first flight, move into doubles on the second flight, then tripple-step the last stretch. If the flights are split so the staircase can double back, I have more leeway to alternate styles.

Hey, like I said, it's the only exercise I get, most days, so I try to put as much thought into it as I can.

2008.03.04 at 10:00am EST