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Monday, 11 August 2014

Does Running Stairs or Laps Make You Lose Weight Faster?

by Wendy Fryer, Demand Media

To lose a pound you must burn 3,500 calories more than you consume. Running stairs and running laps both burn a lot of calories, but exactly how many depends on how fast and how long you do either activity. Both exercises can be intense, making them uncomfortable to sustain for long periods of time but effective for weight loss.

Running Stairs

Running stairs is an intense cardiovascular activity. For a 140-pound person, one minute of running stairs burns approximately 15 calories per minute, or 889 calories per hour. At that rate, it would take just under four hours to burn off one pound. Additionally, stair running offers a muscle-building advantage over running laps on a flat track. Every step requires you to lift your entire body upward, engaging your gluteal and hamstring muscles. This motion helps to maintain lean muscle in the lower body, which in turn burns more calories when your body is at rest.

Running Laps

The faster you run, the more calories you burn per minute. A person jogging a 12-minute mile -- or 5 miles per hour -- would burn 445 calories per hour, or about 7.4 calories per minute. At that pace, it would take nearly eight hours of running to lose one pound. As your speed around the track increases, so does the number of calories you burn. A 140-pound person running at an 8-minute-mile pace -- or 7.5 mph -- burns 730 calories per hour, or about 12 calories per minute. At that rate a one-pound loss would take just under five hours of running. To match the caloric burn of one hour of stair running, you would need to increase your running pace to a 6-minute-mile pace.

Interval Training

Because running stairs is so vigorous, it is unlikely that most people can do it continuously for an hour. One option may be to break up your stair running workout into intervals. For example, you may opt to run up the stairs quickly then walk down more slowly to allow your heart rate and muscles time to recover. Intervals may also be done by time, starting with 30 seconds of vigorous activity followed by 60 seconds of slower recovery. While doing intervals may burn fewer calories per minute than straight stair running, you will likely be able to do them for a longer time. The total caloric burn will be higher because of the longer duration. Another advantage of doing interval training is it will increase the number of calories you burn after your workout for up to 24 hours.

Comparing Stairs to Laps

Both running stairs and laps can be effective ways to burn calories and lose weight. If you solely look at calories burned, you would need to increase your speed on the track to 10 miles per hour to match the caloric burn of an hour of stair running. Any pace slower than that would give running stairs the advantage on weight loss. However, being able to sustain such a vigorous level of activity may make stair running or the equivalent pace on the track too hard for most people. Dividing these intense activities into intervals of work and recovery may be a more realistic way to incorporate them into your workout program. You may also consider running laps at a slower pace but for a longer duration to match the calorie burn you would achieve with stair running. Always consult with your physician before beginning any workout program.

About the Author

Wendy Fryer holds a Master of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has more than 15 years of experience managing health clubs and working with clients.

1 comment:

  1. Two summers ago, I worked with a great gal from Hollywood, Rachel Nichols.
    Rachel did some TT workouts while filming a movie up here in Toronto.

    That's about it for me in terms of training Hollywood actors or
    actresses in person, but recently I was asked, "Imagine you're
    working with a major film star who has eight weeks to lose 30
    pounds of fat and build some muscle in preparation for the lead
    role in the latest Hollywood blockbuster. What do you do with them?"

    Here's my answer...

    I would have control over every single thing that they eat. That's
    the biggest ticket to success here. No booze, no excess sugar, and
    just giving them enough reward to stick with the program.

    If this "star" is a typical overweight, sedentary individual, we'll have
    no problem getting rid of 20 pounds of fat through nutrition.

    As for exercise, we need to be consistent, and stick with our intensity
    principles. We would do 3 hard workouts per week using strength
    training followed by interval training with the program being centered
    around basic movement patterns done with free weights.

    Everything is done in supersets in the workout to get more done in
    less time. For example, we might do a squat supersetted with a
    pressing exercise. I also like to pair free weight exercises and
    bodyweight exercises in supersets, for example, a dumbbell split
    squat paired with a decline pushup.

    We'll do 3 superset pairs, each for 1-3 sets, and stick to 8
    repetitions per set. Then we'll finish the workout with 6 hard
    intervals of 30-60 seconds (with 60-120 seconds rest between each).
    This way, we are in and out of the gym in 45 minutes.

    On "off days", we'd still get at least 30 minutes, if not 60
    minutes, of low-intensity exercise. But it wouldn't just be slow
    cardio. Instead, we'd focus on low-intensity bodyweight training.
    For example, if the actor can do a maximum of 25 bodyweight squats,
    15 pushups, and 5 chinups, we would use easier versions of those
    exercises in circuits.

    Here's a sample 6 exercise bodyweight circuit that we'd do at least
    3 times, doing 10 reps per exercise.

    Wall Squat
    Kneeling Pushup
    Beginner Inverted Bodyweight Row
    Stability Ball Leg Curl
    Mountain Climber

    After that, we might cross train with a variety of cardio exercises
    to avoid overuse injuries that occur when you repeatedly do the
    same activity and nothing else.

    So that's pretty much it. If he (or she) sticks to their nutrition,
    we're as good as gold and the actor will be ready just in time.

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    "Craig's workouts were fun and challenging - I didn't dread going to the
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    the weights...the combination of elements always varied and, therefore,
    I never got bored or felt like I was in a workout rut. And my co-stars
    couldn't believe how great my arms looked, thanks to Craig helping me
    do my first chin-up. Thanks Craig!"
    Rachel Nichols, actress

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