Not a day goes by that I don’t hear “it isn’t so much going up the stairs that hurts, it’s more so going down them.”
And I usually respond with, “that makes total sense.”
When you go up the stairs you are accelerating our body weight. If you weigh 150 lbs then you need to provide 150 lbs of force to accelerate yourself up the staircase.
However, on the way down the stairs, you have to decelerate our bodyweight. Now, if you weigh 150 lbs, you have to provide 150 x (6 to 12*) pounds of force to slow yourself down in preparation for the next step.
The same holds true for step-ups vs lunges.
With a step-up, the vast majority of the force required is in acceleration as you are literally stepping ‘up**’.
With a lunge, the first motion is always down. This requires more strength to decelerate your body, and, is much harder on your knees (if you don’t possess that strength yet.)
Here are four of my favorite step-up variations:
If you have bad knees but want to work on balance and stability so that you can climb stairs (or just walk with more ease) then I highly recommend replacing most of your lunging exercises with step-ups. Even if you don’t rotate them into your workout program regularly, it can still help save you from having knee issues in the future.
Please let me know if this advice helps as I love hearing from my readers!
*6 to 12 is a guestimate. It will depend upon body weight, speed, the height of the stair, the incline of the staircase, whether you are holding onto a rail, and time of day.
**You can hang onto something for the lowering portion, taking the vast majority of leg strength required out of the equation.
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