How to train for the Stairs - POPAT/PARE Training

In order to avoid losing time on your POPAT or PARE laps, you need to be proficient at the speeding up and down the stairs. There is an obvious solution: train stairs more. BUT, if you struggle with it there are more effective ways to train.

Here is what NOT to do: do laps on the stairs to exhaustion.

WARNING: if there is any part of the POPAT/PARE you are going to get injured on, it is probably the stairs. Be cautious not to over-do yourself. When you are tired, avoid the concrete stairs.

While that might get you marginally better at the stairs, it won't make a meaningful change when it comes to your POPAT/PARE times. Instead of training to exhaustion, start training for SPEED and POWER instead.

Here is the strategy if you are going to use the stairs in your session:

  • Fewer reps and higher speed.
  • PRACTICE taking multiple steps at a time.
  • Use the railing to PULL yourself up the stairs and GUIDE your descent.


The other way to improve your performance on the stairs, beyond simply approaching them strategically, is to improve your lower body strength and power. Here are a few exercises that are directly applicable to the stairs:

1. Weighted Step Ups

I like this variation of the step up because it goes beyond the typical limits of the box by adding a 'Knee-Up' after the step. When training endurance, more is more, but when training power and strength LESS is more. Fewer reps with heavier weight are going to make you significantly stronger and more powerful.

2. Bounding

Usually I use bounding as a warm up for power training, but if you struggle with the Stairs you can use it as a regular working set. Like any power exercise, make sure the quality doesn't go down. Personally, I like the version from the Prehab Guys (2nd video), because it forces you to control your landing and get used to finding your feet underneath you.

3. Box Jumps

Really good tool for developing leg power. Remember though, when training power: less is more. Chris does a great hob in this video touching on the basics of programming/integrating box jumps into your training.

4. Walking Lunges

Unilateral strength and endurance. Fairly self-explanatory. Use them. They ROCK.

5. Power Skips

Great for a warm-up, and directly applies to how I take the stairs during the POPAT/PARE. USE YOUR BOTTOM LEG TO DRIVE YOU THROUGH THE STAIRS!

Thanks for reading. Now get out there are start training for your dream career!

Have training questions? Hit me up. I always like to talk shop:


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Author: Mark Murdoch, Kinesiologist, Chiropractic Student. Have questions? Email me. I want to help!