Stair Training

Welcome to the X Gym stair page! This page is for everyone, ranging from pro tower racers, to first-time climbers. It will be updated often with more information, so check back soon!

seattle towers
Here in Washington, we have three fantastic stair climbs that are incredibly well put together. Our first climb of the year is in January up the Rainer Tower (pictured above center), to benefit the the American Lung Association. This is a great “first race” for those who haven’t done one yet because it’s the shortest of the three Seattle races at 40 floors. It’s great for competitive and experienced climbers too though, because racers can choose to do it twice (for 80 floors) or 4 times (for 160 floors). Click here for more info.

Our second local race held in March, is The Big Climb ( up the Columbia tower (pictured above right). This fundraiser benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It is the largest stair climb event in the world, selling out every year with over 8,000 climbers between the firefighter climb and the civilian climb. At 69 floors, it is a very challenging race, and draws serious tower running competitors from all over the world to get points for their world rank. The course record is 7:08, so obviously there are some hard-core racers who show up! Click here to see the latest race results. Be sure to notice that the fastest male and female racers are from X Gym (as well as most of the first page). The X Gym team also holds the course record and has won overall fastest team and individual male and female times for the past four years straight.

Our third climb, always on the first Thursday evening in December, is the 56 floor run up the WaMu tower (pictured above left). They now call it the “Tower at 1201 3rd Ave,” but it will always be the WaMu building to us locals. This race benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and like the Big Climb, it also sells out each year. X Gym climbers also hold the male, female and team records in this building. Click here to go to the site for this year’s climb.

If you are new to stair climbing, don’t let the laser-fast winning times intimidate you. It’s really about the fund-raising for these worthy causes. It’s OK to just take your time and enjoy yourself! That way you will be more likely to come back every year and continue to raise money for these great organizations that truly change lives.

For those of you who want to be a good fundraiser and learn some tips and tricks about stair training to improve your time, you’re at the right place! If you come to the upcoming stair climbing clinics, you will have the biggest advantage possible.

Remember, these stair clinics are mainly to teach you climbing and rail techniques to make you faster on race day. For conditioning tips, see below.

To sign up, just email Before the stair clinic however, you can watch the videos below to see the previous boot camp lectures and learn some inside tips and tricks!

The X Gym stair clinics are free and hosted by elite racers from the X Gym . The X Gym has dominated all three local stair races, so the advice you will get is coming from racers who have proven themselves and know the secrets to a fast, fun, safe and successful climb.

Upcoming Stair Clinics:

Seattle (Capitol Hill stairs) on March 1st! Click here for location map

Eastside (Kirkland’s Forbes Creek stairs) TBA! Click here for location map

Prior to the stair clinics, remember to watch the videos below, where you will learn:

  • How to pace yourself.
  • How to start out and when to “pour it on.”
  • What not to wear!
  • Pre-race nutrition and hydration.
  • What “Track Hack” means and how to reduce it.
  • How to get lighter, stronger and leaner before the race!
  • Training exercises to do at home.
  • Helpful rail techniques.
  • Stair routines to do on your own.
  • Climbing methods to save time and energy.
  • Passing etiquette.
  • And more!

Just a warning: While climbing up stairs will not make you sore and is even lower impact than walking, going down stairs will make your muscles very sore and can be hard on your knees and/or hips, so if you have joint issues or don’t wish to get sore, avoid the stair clinics listed above (or any outdoor stair training for that matter) and stick to training in a building where you can take the elevator back down.

If you would like to be part of the winning stair team and share in the victory mojo, feel free to sign up with our team. We want our clinic attendees to run with us! The more the merrier! Our youngest team member so far has been 8, and our oldest is 82, so anyone is welcome. No need to be an X Gym member either. All you need to qualify is to come to a stair clinic, be a present or past X Gym members, or currently workout with the X Gym DVD.

Click the videos below to see the stairs at our clinic locations.

Below are the vids of the Seattle clinic lecture (part 1 and part 2), plus additional tips from the Kirkland clinic:

And here is even more great info from some other past stair clinics:

Here is a rail technique video to help you learn how to use your upper body muscles to make you faster (and climb easier):

Here are some stair climbing exercises:

For those who find the above exercise too difficult, and would like to work up to it with some intermediate steps, see the video below:

A strong core is key for stair climbing too! Check out the following exercise which targets all four ab muscle layers:

Flight Club from Greg Mushen on Vimeo.

Here are some great articles in the press about stair training:

Intro to stair climbing:

7 day training plan:

24 hour world record:

Lastly, here are a few of the many great testimonials from previous boot campers:

I just wanted to send you a quick note to thank you for the stair training info and classes that you put on. The most important tip you gave was not to stop. That was going through my head the entire climb. This is the first year I have done stair climbing and although I do workout about 5 days a week, I certainly wasn’t ready for this but it was your stair climbing tips that helped me train and get ready. I am also enjoying your book and workout video, which I do twice a week. – J.M.

Our “PATH to Victory” team also did quite well, placing 4th overall. Our top 3 finishers either attended one of the X Gym ‘s boot camps, or participated in your practice sessions. We really appreciate the information you were willing to share with us, which definitely helped our team’s performance. Thanks again PJ for everything, and congratulations for your team’s outstanding performance. – D.O.

Hi PJ, just wanted to let you know that I finished at 26min. Last years time was 54 or 56min. Thanks for the training at Forbes Creek, it really helped! – S.M.

PJ, my climb was great. I did exactly what you told me and trained going slower than I thought I should but it was worth it because in the end, I made it to the top. Before I had your class, I was lucky to make it halfway before I had to stop. By time I made it to the top, I was energized but wasn’t panting. I took it slow and steady and didn’t stop a single time (I took water on the go a few times.) making my time under 30 minutes climbing. I wasn’t going too fast but just to make it up and I made that goal. I look forward to doing this again next time and am really excited that I got to be a part of it. – C.C.