Monday, February 15, 2010

The ‘Running Hills’ Workout

Looking for a great workout to mix into your routine? This is something that will most definitely strip calories and fat, both during the workout and for hours after. BUT, this workout stems from my running days, and is something I highly recommend if you are looking to become stronger, leaner and faster. Whether you are training for a marathon or just simply love the purity of sport and physical exertion, give this a try.

Where: Can be done outside or on a treadmill (I always prefer outside to the treadmill, but it’s not for everyone).

For those of you who aren’t ‘runners’ you can do this on a bike, or you can power-walk the hills.


If doing the workout outside, you will need to first find a hill. I recommend a medium-sized hill to start. A medium hill is one that takes between 30 to 90 seconds to run up. This length of hill is a good distance for the 5km –half marathon runners, because it combines the benefits of short intervals with the stresses on local muscular endurance and tolerance of lactic acid. The energy source is both aerobic and anaerobic and you will experience the build up in blood lactate as you go further up the hill.

Regardless of the hill you choose, the key here is to make sure it’s either long enough or steep enough that you are totally spent at the top and need to recover. In my training I typically use a hill that takes me roughly 90 seconds to 2 min to run as hard as I can to the top. To mix it up, some days I use a shorter hill and add more repeats, and some days I use a longer hill (2-3min) and simply do less repeats.

On the treadmill, I recommend trying a steep incline, as steep as you can handle for 90 seconds.

Clearly your pace will slow down on the hill but the key is to try to get up as fast as you possibly can. Yes, your thighs, bum and lungs will be burning, but you will feel amazing at the end AND for those of you who race, you can count on your times improving substantially. Don’t fear those hills – let them be your strength!


Sample Hill Workout Plan


1-2 Mile: Warm Up Run

1.5 – 2 min: Run as hard as you can up the hill (as much incline as you can handle for that duration on a treadmill – start with a 4% gradient and increase)

Run back down the hill (or run easy for 2 min). Enough to get your heart rate back down.

Do 4-6 hill climbs

1 Mile Cool Down Run


I encourage you do try different lengths of hills, some weeks try shorts hills, some long and some medium, the benefits from each are quit different.

For the athletes out there, I’ve highlighted a few of the key benefits:

·       helps develop power and muscle elasticity

·       improves stride frequency and length

·       develops coordination, encouraging the proper use of arm action during the driving phase and feet in the support phase

·       develops control and stabilization as well as improved speed (downhill running)

·       promotes strength endurance

·       develops maximum speed and strength (short hills)

·       improves lactate tolerance (mixed hills)


And for those looking for aesthetic results: Running Hills on a consistent basis leads to drastic weight loss and toning effects (especially for the hips, butt and thighs)!


Have fun with the Hills!

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