Should you climb one or two steps at a time when tower running?

Posted: July 29, 2016 in Training

The question of taking one or two steps when stair climbing is one we get asked a lot by newcomers to the sport. Without hesitation we tell them that two steps is always best. This is especially the case if you’re hoping to clock a fast time at an event or be in any way competitive.

But is taking two steps at a time actually always most beneficial?


A 2012 study from scientists at the University of Roehampton in London found that if weight loss or control is your primary motivation for stair climbing then taking one step at a time might be the best option.

The team found that “climbing just a 15 m high stairway five times a day represents an energy expenditure of on average 302 kcal per week using the one step strategy and 266 kcal using the two step strategy.”

You might be thinking, “well, one step at a time is slower so you’re expending more calories because you’re climbing for longer”. This is true, and the stair boffins acknowledge this but add “there may also be a biomechanical explanation as well.”

“Since stair step rate is higher during single stepping this may result in faster rates of muscle shortening, which increases energy turnover, and the greater recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibres which are less economical.”

You can check out the full report of the study here.

Alternatively you can defy convention altogether and take three steps at a time like ‘Showtime’ Lobodzinski:


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