This article was written by Lieutenant Jess W. Gundy, Assistant Director of Training at the West Virginia State Police Academy.
Most people who participated in high school football or wrestling practice can fondly remember their coaches barking at them as they ascended and descended the stair steps of the football stadium or sets of stairs located inside school facilities. I am also sure, as you nostalgically ponder how this workout made you feel, that you swore to yourself you would never participate in this type of torture again. Well there is one reason why old coach tormented you with this routine, because it is an excellent way to build speed, endurance, and agility.
Traditionally, the stair workout is done by sprinting up three to four flights of stairs, touching every step on the way and jogging back down, after which you would repeat the process for a specified number of repetitions. While this is a very challenging workout, it definitely becomes much more “evil” when you integrate kettlebell training into the routine. Now you may be asking yourself, “Why would I put myself through this?” Because quite simply, it is an excellent way to train for speed, reap the cardio benefits as well as build muscular endurance and strength, not to mention the fat that you will be burning. Perhaps the best thing about the workout is that it can be done within fifteen to twenty minutes, depending on how hard you want to push yourself.
The workout is facilitated by bringing a kettlebell, that you can easily handle and placing it at the bottom of the stair steps, preferably three to four flights of stairs on a fairly steep incline. You sprint to the top of the stairs as fast as you can by touching every step and then jog to the bottom where the fun begins with the kettlebells. In all you should climb up and down the stairs and perform your exercises at the bottom of the stairs for a total of ten repetitions, with no breaks in between repetitions of course. If you find that the routine is too easy you need to use a heavier kettlebell. Here is the routine that I have been using, please feel free to vary the exercises if as you deem necessary:
First Repetition: (10) KB presses with each arm
Second Repetition: (10) KB snatches with each arm
Third Repetition: (10) KB cleans with each arm
Fourth Repetition: (15) KB curls with a towel in KB handle
Fifth Repetition: (15) KB behind the head triceps presses with a towel in KB handle
Sixth Repetition: (20) Elevated pushups with both feet on the third step
Seventh Repetition: (20) Deep knee bends while holding KB close to the chest
Eighth Repetition: (10) KB presses with each arm
Ninth Repetition: (20) Elevated pushups with both feet on the third step
Tenth Repetition: (10) KB snatches with each arm
Well there you have it comrade, if you are not breathing heavily and sweating profusely at the end of this routine, then you have over trained and you must be dead. But seriously, make sure that you don’t overdo it the first time you train in this manner because this is a seriously intense routine, as a matter of fact I would not recommend that you do this more than once or twice a week. This kind of conditioning is definitely not for the faint of heart as it relentlessly works on your explosive power and anaerobic skills. Once you train this way I am sure that you will agree this is about as brutal of a workout that you can do in a limited amount of time.
Lieutenant Gundy is currently the Assistant Director of Training at the West Virginia State Police Academy and is an advocate of kettlebell training. Lieutenant Gundy is also the chief defensive tactics instructor and is very involved in the setting up fitness programs for law enforcement officers.