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Running Up Stairs/Hills Builds Explosiveness, Speed and Quickness In Basketball Players

One of the greatest exercises to improve athleticism for basketball players is running uphills or stairs. These two exercises will take your game and athleticism to another level. Running stairs is one of the best bodyweight exercises to increase explosive power in your legs needed to jump higher, quickness, overall speed and conditioning. There aren’t many exercises that are as versatile as running stairs and hills, these are GOLD for basketball players.

Did you know four-time NBA Scoring Champion and reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant didn’t lift weights in high school to build explosiveness? Kevin Durant ran stairs and ran up hills to improve his athleticism. KD’s quickness has always been deceptive, many believe his length and long stride is what makes him so unguardable, but he has a very quick and powerful first step to go along with that length.

Durant’s Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook, arguably the most athletic point guard in NBA history also ran stairs and hills in his high school days and to this day he still does.

Before you continue to read this article, check out this video of Durant and Westbrook performing sprints, agility drills and lateral movements up hill and ON SAND this past off-season. Running straight in sand itself is extremely challenging as the resistance almost doubles, you really have to drive your knees up and work twice as hard to get your foot off the ground, these two are doing it uphill. Once you’ve mastered stairs and hills regularly, then you can begin performing them and other plyometric exercises in sand.

Once you begin doing these 2-3 times a week on a consistent basis, you will be jumping higher, running faster and blowing by your defenders, you’ll also be able to play the whole game.

Find a steep hill or a high flight of stairs and run up as many times as you can without stopping. When you get used to running up these stairs and hills, you can perform different variations of them. Try skipping a step, try doing defensive slides up hill, start adding a weight vest or weight belt and doing them. Once you get really advanced, only then can you perform hill sprints or defensive slides uphills with sand like KD and Westbrook.

Running stairs and hills are great for athletes that are too young to hit the weights as they develop tremendous power in the lower body. When training for power you should skip a step and focus on really driving your foot into the ground on each step but still going as fast as possible. Running hills are better for building power than stairs as they require you to really drive your knee up and push your foot into the ground as the resistance increases.

When training for quickness do not skip a step on stairs, you need to move up the steps very quickly, the goal is to make minimal contact with the ground, move up the flight of stairs as if there is a fire chasing you.

Stair and hill running will also make you a more aggressive athlete and increase your mental toughness. When your huffing and puffing, your legs are wobbly and your going uphill it becomes hard to not only breathe, but to keep the same intensity, explosiveness and speed that you had at the bottom half of the stairs or hills, this is when you dig down deep and find that next gear to go just as hard, if not harder then you were at the beginning. When you conquer the top portion of the stairs you will make some serious athletic gains.

At Ball Don’t Stop we incorporate hill sprints and stair running into our players workouts all year. As a matter of fact, on some of our athletes plyometric training days we can simply find a steep hill or a flight of stairs and do a number of exercises on them aside from running or sprint that will improve their speed, vertical leap and quickness, for example depth jumps off stairs, box jumps, backwards sprints, uphill lunges, split squat jumps and more.

Advanced work on the sand today 👌 Getting more athletic and enjoying the beautiful day in the most beautiful city in the world at the same time 💪🍁☀️ Our facility is in Surrey, but our weekend high performance sand and hill programs in downtown begin in two weeks! Hit the link in the bio to inquire about training with the leaders in strength & conditioning training in BC 👆 #VancityStrength #RealWork #RealResults ———————————————– #legday #fitness #training #gym #workout #explosive #strength #power #speed #strengthtraining #functionaltraining #bodybuilding #fitfam #health #protein #transformation #body #summer #grind #hardwork #quickness #sand #beach #vancouver #beautiful #vancity

A video posted by Vancity Strength & Fitness (@vancitystrength) on

Remember to be careful when doing stairs in the fall or winter, days after it rains the stairs may still be very slippery so don’t take that risk of running up them as fast as you can as you could seriously get hurt. Always have a partner and a water bottle with you when performing stairs or uphill sprints, you wouldn’t want to pass out on the top or get dizzy and fall over with nobody around to help you.

Perform a proper warmup before you do these and be sure to stretch out after your workout.

If you are serious about improving your game and athleticism, keep it locked to Ball Don’t Stop. We love providing our readers and athletes real tips, workouts and knowledge to achieve all their goals on the court.


  1. hey

    February 24, 2016 at 3:45 pm

  2. A.J

    March 12, 2017 at 6:59 am

    Love hill runs for building explosiveness. Hill runs are much more beneficial to ballers than any other exercise in my opinion.

    • az

      July 27, 2017 at 11:03 am

      way better …. the steeper the incline the better . …..

  3. To everyone

    March 14, 2017 at 4:36 am

    how many runs should i do to hill per day?

  4. To everyone

    March 14, 2017 at 4:36 am

    and what about rest between runs?

  5. Eddie Zucker

    July 2, 2017 at 7:03 am

    How many times should I run up hills
    Should I incorporate backward runs and defense slides up the hills as well? I train in the gym doing box squats and dead lifts with box jumps. I really need to increase my vertical and explosiveness as as hoop player to get to D1 level! Please help! Ty in advance!

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