Any stairs (including those at work) can help you get ready for the Fight for Air Climb.

Take the Stairs: The Athlete’s Way to Build Leg Strength

There’s a reason you see college football players out running up and down the stadium steps early in the morning. Climbing stairs and related exercises such as lunges and squats are an important way to build strength in the thighs, calves, and glutes. Here’s a rundown of some of the best ways to increase leg strength.

1. Strengthen Thighs and Calves. Do lunges and wall squats to strengthen your quadriceps and glutes; jump rope and do one-leg hops to increase impact tolerance.

2. Train on a Stairmaster. Rain or shine, you can always build your stair-climbing muscles at the gym or on your home exercise equipment. With days still fairly short, this is also your best option if you work long hours.

3. Strengthen Your Core. Don’t neglect those core muscles, either; planks, sit-ups, and pilates mat exercises all work well.

4. Ride a Bike or Stationary Cycle. Nothing gets your quadriceps and hamstrings strong like cycling.

6. Find Some Stairs. San Francisco is famous for its staircases, hidden away in every neighborhood and affording spectacular views. And the East Bay and Marin have some excellent options, too. Here’s a list of where to find them.

7. Run Stadium Steps. A favorite fitness activity on college sports fields, running stadium steps is a great way to train for the Fight for Air Climb. You don’t need a fancy stadium, either – your local high school or community college likely has some bleachers you can use

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.