Hulk Steps Stair Running Workout

High-Intensity Variety For Your Step Running Workout

Stairs, steps - whatever you like to call them, they’re a simple way to get a great workout and a natural addition to just about any fitness program. From sprints on your favorite set of Rocky Steps to nearly endless creative total-body exercises, if you’ve got a set of stairs nearby you’re never too far from a good workout.

Running stairs should be a solid workout for just about anyone, but what if you want to kick it up a notch? Three words: hulk steps! Rather than running stairs one-by-one, hulk steps are longer, more powerful leaps - almost as far as you can jump with each stride.

Papago Park amphitheater
Thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corps and the New Deal, the Papago Park Amphitheater has been the site of stair running workouts since 1934. And hulk steps since 1962!

The first step (zing!) is to find a set of stairs that will work well for your size and stride length when you’re making near-maximum effort leaps. The oversize steps of an outdoor amphitheater work well, but a more typical staircase will do just fine too. In either case you’ll simply skip steps as needed.

Hulk steps are all about big jumps and big effort. Each leap should start with a deep, strong drive from your hip into a long, powerful stride and full extension. Sets of 10 to 20 are a good place to start (5 to 10 leaps from each leg) but you can vary the distance and intensity to suit your ability or fitness goals.

As your immediate energy level diminishes set-to-set, it will become more challenging to reach the next target step with each leap. You’ll find yourself making each stride more slowly, gliding in the air a little longer and even engaging your core whole body to heave yourself upward. This is the good part of course, where you’re really working, and where this technique gets its name - mimicking the bounding leaps of your favorite green superhero!

Lighthouse Avenue median stairs
Stairs to the sky - or to the other side of Lighthouse Avenue.

Hulk steps involve a great combination of exercise techniques. A moderate to challenging resistance for developing strength, plyometrics for explosive power, an elongated stride for active/dynamic stretching, interval training and of course high-intensity cardio. Make your workout even more interesting with a few variations:

Drop Sets

If you have access to a really long set of stairs, this one’s for you! Begin each set with your full hulk steps, then as you get tired, reduce the number of steps you skip with each leap by one step until you’re running (or crawling!) single steps.

Mix It Up

As an alternative to consecutive sets, mix in sets of hulk steps between your other stair exercises like high skips, one and two-leg jumps, lunges and regular stair running at different speeds. Or use a single-step rest set in between sets of hulk steps.

Add Weight

Of course if set after set of hulk steps still isn’t enough for you, just add some extra weight. A couple of water bottles, a weighted vest or a telephone pole on each shoulder!

More Adventures
ocean view staircase