Benefits of Hill Training
Hill sprints have gained a tremendous amount of attention and popularity over the past decade or so, and rightfully so. There are multiple benefits of hill training, some of which I will discuss here.
Time Efficiency – Simply put, incline sprints are a great way to get a lot done in a short amount of time. Most sprint workouts consist of 10-20 second sprints up hill, with long rest periods in between. There are hundreds of variations to time/distance/rest ratios, but the idea remains the same. With hill sprints, it doesn’t take a huge time commitment to get a lot accomplished.
Sub Maximal Speed – I am all about running and maximal effort for short amounts of time. But, with maximal effort on flat ground comes an increased risk for injury. Stretching the hamstrings at such a high rate of speed poses a great risk. When we add incline or hills into the mix, this story changes a little bit. You are still going at a maximal or near-maximal effort, but your speed is significantly decreased, simply due to the resistance of the hill.
Resistance – As mentioned in the previous paragraph, hills provide more resistance than flat terrain. As most of you know, the more resistance we provide muscles in terms of exercise, the stronger we get. The stronger our leg muscles are, the faster we can run for a longer period of time.
Proper Technique – Leg Drive. Arm Swing. Slight Forward Tilt. Midfoot Landing. All of these things are vital to achieve proper running form. The issue many times is that people have proper form, but the longer they run, the more their form breaks down. If we implement hill sprint into training more frequently, our bodies will become accustomed to that proper form that we need while running.
No Cost – Don’t have a gym membership? Don’t have a treadmill? No worries. Go out and find the nearest hill in your neighborhood or down the street. It doesn’t cost a thing to find the closest hill and sprint up it for 15 or 20 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong, hill sprints are not easy. Any type of maximal effort training is going to be difficult. Adding an incline into it is going to make it that much more challenging. However, combining maximal effort with increased resistance is an equation that will ALWAYS lead to results. Consistently adding incline training will without a doubt take your strength and endurance to the next level.