Stair training is offseason hockey training that is highly transferrable and effective.
Running the stands is a classic old-school athletic activity, but current Edmonton Oilers strength and conditioning coach Joel Jackson has done some great research around stair conditioning to look into its worth.
We recently hosted Joel on our very own Hockey IQ Podcast. You can dive into Joel’s complete stair conditioning dive here.
On our website
Side note… one of the players under Joel’s responsibilities, Connor McDavid, seems to have pretty good S&C!
While a city like Pittsburgh may have more stairs than most, there are plenty of places around your local town that you can find with elevation changes. This could be a sandhill, a local high school stadium, etc.
They are versatile, allowing for a wide variety of aerobic and anaerobic focused conditioning. Even better, Joel found that there may be biomechanical similarities to skating.
Ground Contact Times
Skating GCT is unique because they follow the opposite pattern of what you see when sprinting on land.
An athlete sprinting on land will display longer GCT when starting. As they accelerate and reach maximum speed those GCTs get progressively shorter.
The opposite is true with skating where the athlete displays shorter GCT in the acceleration phase and spends progressively more time with their skate blade in contact with the ice as they gather speed.
# of Steps Taken & Average Ground Contact Time:
1 Stair = 0.145 ± 0.02
2 Stairs = 0.173 ± 0.02
3 Stairs = 0.253 ± 0.02
4 Stairs = 0.394 ± 0.04
The average GCT increases exponentially from three to four stairs; which also corresponded with a noticeable breakdown in form and rhythm.
Compare this to skating
Stride #2 = 0.281 ± 0.03
Stride #6 = 0.348 ± 0.02
Joint Angles and Range of Motion
Ground contact times
Range of motion
Amplitude of movement
Scheduling days outside of a windowless gym on a beautiful sunny day has to be good for the mental health of all involved, and that value shouldn't be underestimated, too.