Stair climb good cross training?

jameses
jameses Posts: 653
edited March 2013 in Road general
Just got back from a short-but-hilly ride (2500ft of climbing in 34 miles, with 3 climbs hitting 20% in places) and found it much easier than usual, not even having to get out of the saddle for Caerphilly mountain nearing the end of the ride.

I run a fair amount as well as cycling, but I find they don't help each other much (apart from the cardio side of things). However, a couple of weeks ago I took part in a charity event that involved climbing stairs to the equivalent height of the 3 peaks, and it pretty much ruined my thighs for a couple of days afterwards.

Would the muscular action of climbing stairs be similar to cycling uphill? Not really keen on just climbing stairs as training, but it might encourage me to get out to the Beacons and climb a few hills!

Comments

  • VTech
    VTech Posts: 4,736
    Im new to exercise, but a few years ago there was a guy who got the world record for stair climbing on TV, apparently he had the worlds strongest legs (?) so it must be good for climbing on a bike where leg usage is paramount ?
    Living MY dream.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,504
    I read an article years ago that said climbing stairs is the closest form of exercise you can get to riding a bike without actually riding a bike as it uses the leg muscles in a similar range of movement. It could have all been BS but it made some sense.
  • danlikesbikes
    danlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    I use the machine in the gym (or used to) that looks like a reverse escalator found it very good as a form of cross training for cycling and running.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • VTech
    VTech Posts: 4,736
    isnt a cross trainer the best calorie burner in the gym ?
    if thats the case, surely stair climbing will be similar and give excellent strength and fat burning.
    Living MY dream.
  • danlikesbikes
    danlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    Personally I tend to find the step machine (the one that looks like a mini escalator in reverse) is much better and under used.

    The cross trainer works lower and up body but both are supported with no lifting involved so whilst you can get a good workout, using the gym escalator you are mimicking walking/running and partly cycling but having to lift your body weight with each step but without any of the knee strain caused when running. So for the same work rate you are burning more calories per hour than on a cross trainer. Plus I find that the extra workload requires you to be able to have a strong lung action to keep your cardio system in check. Thats just my opinion, but it has done me well in the past and really helped with my running/cycling training along with burning up the fat.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • DHTT
    DHTT Posts: 345
    Kurt Asle Arvesen in his first year in Team Sky, did a publicity thing on an Oil Rig at one point, it was during the volcanic ash cloud so he was stranded on the rig for a few days. He had access to a gym etc, but always in the article I read he asked for use of the stairs so that he could run from bottom of rig to top, they let him his reasoning was to simulate climbing. So I guess it must have some connection :-)
  • During Feb/March I work in London and have very little time for cycling, I have found running the stairs from the bottom to the top of the Royal Albert Hall a few times every day helps to keep my legs going 'till end of March when I can get back on the bike!!
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    JamesEs wrote:
    Would the muscular action of climbing stairs be similar to cycling uphill? Not really keen on just climbing stairs as training, but it might encourage me to get out to the Beacons and climb a few hills!

    From a cardio point of view it wouldn't do any harm, but you'd need to climb a lot of stairs to see any fitness benefit. Fairly pointless from a strength perspective though, as the forces needed to climb stairs are probably higher than those needed to ride a bike.
  • jameses
    jameses Posts: 653
    Imposter wrote:
    From a cardio point of view it wouldn't do any harm, but you'd need to climb a lot of stairs to see any fitness benefit. Fairly pointless from a strength perspective though, as the forces needed to climb stairs are probably higher than those needed to ride a bike.

    It wasn't the cardio so much as the strength aspect I was looking at. Why do you say it would be pointless from a strength perspective? Surely if you're training your muscles to cope with a sustained, higher workload, that can only be a good thing when it comes to cycling?
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    JamesEs wrote:
    It wasn't the cardio so much as the strength aspect I was looking at. Why do you say it would be pointless from a strength perspective? Surely if you're training your muscles to cope with a sustained, higher workload, that can only be a good thing when it comes to cycling?

    indeed, but that is an aerobic improvement, not a strength improvement.
  • bernithebiker
    bernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    On a recent 6 hour cross channel ferry crossing, I was bored and noone was outside so I ran up and down a 6m staircase 100 times as fast as possible, which gave me a 600m climb!

    Was very hot and sweaty at the end, felt like a good workout to me, leg muscles, aerobic, the lot!
  • johnny25
    johnny25 Posts: 344
    I also find the step machine in the gym to be beneficial to my cycling effort. Combined with leg presses and curls the overall strength of my legs has dramatically improved in a relatively short space of time.

    Climbing hills are still hard work but I have noticed my speed has edged up and I recover quicker.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    johnny25 wrote:
    I also find the step machine in the gym to be beneficial to my cycling effort. Combined with leg presses and curls the overall strength of my legs has dramatically improved in a relatively short space of time.

    Climbing hills are still hard work but I have noticed my speed has edged up and I recover quicker.

    Strength is largely irrelevant in cycling though, beyond certain levels. If you can climb a set of stairs unaided (as in the thread topic) then you already have enough strength potential in your legs to ride a bicycle at the highest level. What you may not have (and therefore, what you need to develop) is the aerobic capacity to repeatedly apply that strength for the length of time that you need in order to complete whatever it is you want to do on the bike.

    The word 'strong' is often used to describe a fit rider - but in literal terms, high levels of 'strength' (ie the ability to exert force) is not what is needed on a bike (unless you are a track sprinter). Loads of discussions in the training forum about this very topic.
  • danlikesbikes
    danlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    Imposter wrote:
    johnny25 wrote:
    I also find the step machine in the gym to be beneficial to my cycling effort. Combined with leg presses and curls the overall strength of my legs has dramatically improved in a relatively short space of time.

    Climbing hills are still hard work but I have noticed my speed has edged up and I recover quicker.

    Strength is largely irrelevant in cycling though, beyond certain levels. If you can climb a set of stairs unaided (as in the thread topic) then you already have enough strength in your legs to ride a bicycle at the highest level. What you may not have (and therefore, what you need to develop) is the aerobic capacity to repeatedly apply that strength for the length of time that you need in order to complete whatever it is you want to do on the bike.

    The word 'strong' is often used to describe a fit rider - but in literal terms, high levels of 'strength' (ie the ability to exert force) is not what is needed on a bike (unless you are a track sprinter). Loads of discussions in the training forum about this very topic.

    Imposter is spot on there.

    You will find the machine has various uses depending on the speed/mode/time you use it for. You can and should build endurance & aerobic capacity. Intervals will also help you to get to higher workloads for longer periods or shorter hill sprint type work.

    The machine itself will help with building/maintaing lean muscle mass but this is commonly misquoted as strength.

    Presses & curls will help however you need to be careful that you don't over do them (with heavier weight/less repetitions) and bulk up your thighs unless you want to look like a track sprinter in which case carry on. Do plenty of them myself but is a fine balance to get right & I often see people getting it very wrong in the gym.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • bernithebiker
    bernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    The best way to do stairs for cycling is small and fast steps.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    Presses & curls will help however you need to be careful that you don't over do them (with heavier weight/less repetitions) and bulk up your thighs unless you want to look like a track sprinter in which case carry on. Do plenty of them myself but is a fine balance to get right & I often see people getting it very wrong in the gym.

    TBH, I can't see that 'presses & curls' will help, as they won't do anything to improve your aerobic performance or capacity. If you are spending time in a gym when you would be better off riding your bike, then stuff like that may actually be holding you back.
  • danlikesbikes
    danlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    Imposter wrote:
    Presses & curls will help however you need to be careful that you don't over do them (with heavier weight/less repetitions) and bulk up your thighs unless you want to look like a track sprinter in which case carry on. Do plenty of them myself but is a fine balance to get right & I often see people getting it very wrong in the gym.

    TBH, I can't see that 'presses & curls' will help, as they won't do anything to improve your aerobic performance or capacity. If you are spending time in a gym when you would be better off riding your bike, then stuff like that may actually be holding you back.

    Never said they would help improve aerobic performance or capacity. Think your misquoting me there as I said that the infinity step machine would improve aerobic performance &or capacity.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    Never said they would help improve aerobic performance or capacity. Think your misquoting me there as I said that the infinity step machine would improve aerobic performance &or capacity.

    ok, but you did say they would 'help' though - I'm just not clear on what they would help with?
  • danlikesbikes
    danlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    Imposter wrote:
    Never said they would help improve aerobic performance or capacity. Think your misquoting me there as I said that the infinity step machine would improve aerobic performance &or capacity.

    ok, but you did say they would 'help' though - I'm just not clear on what they would help with?

    Nope not playing today - if your that interested and have the free time on the internet suggest you spend it looking it up yourself, rather than trolling for an argument either for or against any none cycling specific exercised either being good or not good for your cycling.

    Your past posts make it quite clear that you are in the camp of not supporting the theory & my past posts suggest are clear that I feel it does. Afraid your going to have to find someone else to have a back and forth internet discussion with on this subject.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    Imposter wrote:
    Never said they would help improve aerobic performance or capacity. Think your misquoting me there as I said that the infinity step machine would improve aerobic performance &or capacity.

    ok, but you did say they would 'help' though - I'm just not clear on what they would help with?

    Nope not playing today - if your that interested and have the free time on the internet suggest you spend it looking it up yourself, rather than trolling for an argument either for or against any none cycling specific exercised either being good or not good for your cycling.

    Your past posts make it quite clear that you are in the camp of not supporting the theory & my past posts suggest are clear that I feel it does. Afraid your going to have to find someone else to have a back and forth internet discussion with on this subject.

    jesus fella - you said 'presses & curls will help' - help with what?? If they do nothing for aerobic performance then fair enough - and if it's already been agreed that strength is not a limiter in cycling, then what exactly are 'presses & curls' useful for??? That's all I'm asking. You shouldn't come out with this stuff unless you can support it.

    Earlier you said I was 'spot on' (your words, not mine). And now all of a sudden we are disagreeing, because you can't explain yourself.. ;)