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Real Stair Climbing For Firefighters - Part III

To improve lower body power plyometrics can be used in stair workouts. To do this you can use single, double, and triple hops with either both or one leg at a time.

To improve lower body power plyometrics can be used in stair workouts. To do this you can use single, double, and triple hops with either both or one leg at a time. You can use side hops, side to side hops, transverse hops and so on. You can even use eccentric hops.

The key to any plyometric program is to perform the jumps with excellent form quickness and explosiveness. Remember, you are training yourself to exert force as fast as possible and to improve your power output. Although plyometrics can and will improve your conditioning, it's primary purpose is to improve your power.

I have athletes walk up stairs and jump rope to warm up. Then they proceed to sets of 1 to 15 jumps depending on the height of the jump and whether one or two legs are used, and also depending on the surface used. Sometimes we use surfaces in stairs that are more forgiving, but sometimes we may use stadium steps which may be concrete and are less forgiving. It is very important to keep that in mind as safety should always be an issue when doing any workout. I usually have athletes perform forward, lateral, side to side and rotational jumps. One important point to remember is when training single leg jumps to start off with your weaker leg first.

A Power development workout can look something like this:

Warm-up: Walk up 20 flights, easy pace, for 3 to 5 minutes. Take elevator or walk down. Another way we warm up for plyo-workouts is jump roping or jumping jacks. Here are some plyo exercises we use in our workouts.

  • Both legs using 1 step: 5 to 20 repetitions:
    Rest 1-3 minutes

*This sequence can be repeated 1 to 3 times.

Here's a list of other variations you can use for power develpoment

  • Using One Leg
  • Using Giant Steps
  • Side to Side Hops
  • Frontal Plane Side Hops
  • Skaters
  • Transverse Hops (rotational hops)
  • Adding a weighted vest

Keep in mind here that I have not seen many people hop 5 or 6 steps for reps. Another thing to remember is the danger involved when adding more steps. Always keep safety in mind first and then proceed to design workouts or exercises. Usually we just go as high as four steps and save the really tough jumps just to see how many we can get in one jump (as a test).

Also keep in mind that when I am working high school students, many times it is just better to give them a time frame. In my experience, they hardly ever remember how many reps they do and it is just better to tell them to jump or hop for a specific amount of time. Usually we hop from 10 second all the way up to a minute depending on what we want to accomplish. This will make it makes it easier on you and it makes it easier on the student.

Obviously there are a number of ways to change a power development workout. Just remember one thing: it is easy to make this a conditioning workout by adding too many jumps. Concentrate on being able to jump with quickness and efficiency and do not jump to complete fatigue. Use form as a guide. If your form is breaking down, then stop the set.

On the other hand, you can use jumps to condition yourself because in sports it is not always who jumps the highest, but who can the jump most moderately throughout a game. Especially late in games. Experiment and find what works best for you and your particular situations. With teams, I usually do power development one day, stressing form and keeping the reps low, and conditioning on a separate day to maximize the goal of each workout.

In part 4 we'll go over what else can be done with stair exercises. You'll be surprised at what else can be done with just stairs!

Virgil Aponte is a certified Personal Trainer and PE Teacher in New York City. He served as a conditioning/baseball coach with the New York Mets Baseball Academy and as an assistant strength coach with the WNBA New York Liberty women's basketball team. He continues to train select clientele, teach high school PE and produced the Ultimate Stair Exercises DVD set and E-Book. To learn more or contact him visit: