Incline workouts, when done properly and safely, can greatly benefit anyone looking to increase the intensity of their workouts. In fact, incorporating some form of hill running into your regular workout routine is one of the best ways to increase speed, strength and power. Here are some reasons why you should consider adding hill training to your exercise program:
- Running uphill changes your body mechanics just enough to wake up those muscles that aren’t activated when training on a flat surface.
- You can find some kind of slope, hill or incline virtually anywhere, whether you’re in the city or out in nature.
- The intensity of your workout can easily be increased or decreased by your choice of incline or by including weight or resistance.
- Challenging yourself with a different type of workout can help you overcome training plateaus.
- The only equipment you need is good running shoes or cleats.
Whether you’re an elite athlete or simply looking to change up your exercise program, here’s a modifiable workout that almost anyone can do. Perform this workout no more than twice a week on non-consecutive days.
Begin on flat ground and perform the following exercises for 10 meters (a little more than 30 feet) each: high knees, bum kickers, straight-leg kicks, lunge-and-reach, and Spiderman crawl.
On an incline, perform the following movements while moving up the hill and then walk down each time:
- Walk uphill, while leaning slightly forward
- Lunge uphill, while keeping the weight in the front leg
- Jog uphill at 50 percent effort
- Run backwards uphill, while taking small steps to activate the hamstrings
For each rep and all five sets, follow a 1:4 ratio of work-to-recovery time (for example, if it takes 30 seconds to get up the hill, perform two minutes of active rest, including the time it takes to get back to the bottom of the hill). Perform three hill runs per set: The first run at 50 percent effort, the second at 75 percent and the third at 100 percent.
Set 1: Exaggerated glute drive/hip extension—exaggerate the backswing of the leg and drive the knee up as high as possible
Set 2: High knees, quick steps, arm drive, exaggerated hip flexion
Set 3: Bounding, powerful distance leaps including both exaggerated hip extension and flexion
Set 4: Walk up backwards with short steps to activate the hamstrings and anterior tibalias muscles (shins)
Set 5: Full sprints
Be sure to spend 10 to 15 minutes cooling down with a slow walk and stretches that target the hip flexors, glutes, calves and hamstrings after completing your workout.