Hill training is a incredibly simple way to supplement your training routine. There are a variety of ways to use hills to achieve the results you are looking for, and the benefits of running up hills are tremendous. Below I will discuss a couple of the benefits as well as a few of the more versatile ways to perform hill training.
1) Intensify The Work Out
Hill training can greatly intensify your work out. Hills are an excellent way to gain strength, in fact they are arguably better at gaining running strength than lifting weights. Running hills activates all the muscles of your legs and core and makes them work in symphony with each other increasing overall muscle coordination. Because of this, hills are an exceptional way to increase endurance and stamina as well as increase overall speed. Hills burns more calories that running on flat ground as well. According to Shape.com:
There’s a pretty big difference between a totally flat treadmill and one with a five percent incline — almost 100 calories in difference.
2) Easier on Your Body
Another big benefit of running up hill is that it is easier on your joints. Running hills has been shown to reduce the likely hood of getting shin splints compared with running on flat ground. It also has lower impact on all your joints specifically you knees. Going down hill in turn is harder on your joints and thus it is recommended to climb hills with high intensity and descend hills with low intensity during training.
Types of Workouts
Competitor does an excellent job of explaining three of the more versatile hill work outs you can perform. I will summarize them below:
1) Short Sprints
Short uphill sprints would consist of running up a 5%-15% grade at full intensity for 10 to 15 seconds followed by a complete recovery, usually 2 to 3 minutes. A work out like this is awesome for increasing blood flow through the heart, which in turn will decrease your heart rate in the future and make your heart more efficient.
2) Long Hill Repeats
Long hill repeats are similar to short sprints in nature just slightly longer in duration and on a slightly less steep hill. Long hill repeats are generally about 90 seconds in duration and are excellent at increasing VO2 max while increasing running strength and overall fitness.
3) Rolling Hills
Rolling hills are essentially going for your typical long run but on a hilly course. This is the most effective method for increasing your ability to race on hills. Rolling hills are also effective at improving form over longer and more gradual hills.
Find a hill near you and try one of the above workouts to supplement your next training day!