How much power is required to climb a flight of stairs? Popular


Listing Details

energy; power; physiology; muscles; mechanical energy
Time needed
30 minutes
Materials Needed
  • Stairs
  • Tape measure
  • Scale
  • Stopwatch or watch which measures seconds
Doing the activity!
  1. Measure the vertical height of the set of stairs (or a portion that’s easily measured), in metres (m). The vertical height refers to the height from the bottom to the top, not the slope.
  2. Determine your body mass, in kilograms (kg) by getting on the scale.
  3. Time the number of seconds (s) it takes you to run up the stairs or hill.
  4. Use this formula to calculate power (in watts): (mass x 9.81 x vertical height) / time = watts
  5. Remember: Mass is in kilograms (kg), Height is in metres (m), and Time is in seconds (s)
  6. 9.81 is the gravity factor (a factor accounting for overcoming gravity)
  7. Example: 54 kg person; 3 m high set of stairs; seconds to run up stairs
  8. (54 x 9.81 x 3) / 5 = 318 watts of power
Investigate more!
  • Find stairs with different slopes and see if the power requirement is the same.
What's happening?

Most people associate power with muscles and muscle strength - the larger the muscles, the greater the power. This is only partially true. Smaller muscles that are properly toned can generate larger amounts of power than larger muscles that are not properly toned. This is why athletes that appear small may still be capable of great feats of strength and stamina.

Power is the rate at which work is done. The greater the power, the more work that can be done. In sports, the more power that the athlete can generate, the faster, farther, higher, etc., the athlete can go. Ultimately, the amount of power the athlete can generate goes back to how, and how much, the athlete trains and prepares for that particular sport.

Power is measured in watts. The best known reference to watts is with the light bulb. The greater the number of watts a light bulb can generate, the brighter the bulb. The greater the number of watts an athlete can generate, the stronger they will be in sports. The greater your level of fitness, the faster you should be able to run up the stairs or hill, thus the greater the amount of watts of power that you can generate.


  • How could you improve the amount of power you generate?

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