If people did hill sprints training as much as they do cardio, they would be leaner, stronger, and lighter.
Well, there’s no denying that steady cardio has its benefits. But if your goal is to burn fat, increase muscle mass and build strength – hill sprints will give you better and faster results.
In case you’re not familiar with hill sprints, it’s basically sprinting on an uphill terrain. You’ve probably heard of the benefits of sprinting and other forms of HIIT. Guess what? Hill sprints have more benefits and they’re safer (read on to find out why).
Well, hill sprints are not everyone’s cup of tea – they’re hard. But once you find out how it feels to stand on top of a hill after sprinting, you’ll love them.
We all know that exercising indoors can get boring, so hill sprints will give you the much-needed break from indoor training. Stop setting the treadmill on the incline and get outdoors and run on real hills.
Now, if you already doing bodyweight exercises, interval training, or cardio, you’ll need to make a few tweaks to your routine because hill sprints are physically demanding. Combining them with numerous exercises can lead to overtraining.
Frankly, hill sprints are not very popular in the fitness realm. So some people may dismiss them as another hyped exercise. But hill sprints have been used by athletes, military trainees, and fitness enthusiast for years. In fact, here are some of the benefits of hill sprints that will make you try them and want to do them every day.
Benefits of hill sprints training
Anyone trying to get rid of excess body fat should do hill sprints. This study showed that the subjects burnt an excess of 200 calories after doing hill sprints for only 2.5 minutes.
While I think these results are on the higher side, I can tell you for sure that hill sprints are among the fasted ways of burning fat.
Hill sprints force the body to use a lot of energy, therefore, it ends up burning lots of calories.
Builds muscle and strength
Running uphill activates the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, core, arms and shoulders. Basically, you get a full body workout. In fact, hill sprints engage more muscle fibers in the legs than squats or lunges.
Since the body is resisting gravity, it is forced to work harder. The stepper the hill the more rewarding your workout will be.
Builds mental strength
As I mentioned earlier, hill sprints are quite challenging. It takes a lot of determination to sprint up a hill at maximum speed.
So doing hill sprints frequently will toughen you up and increase your mental strength. Which means you’ll be able to push through workouts and become better at handling life challenges.
Increases cardiovascular endurance
If you’ve ever sprinted on a hill you how it feels when you get at the top. The chest is pounding and burning. That’s because hill sprints push the heart and the lungs to the limit.
This strengthens your cardiovascular system and improves your endurance. Therefore, you’ll be able to run longer distances than before.
High testosterone levels make it easy to build muscle and boost sex drive. And studies show that short high-intensity exercises increase testosterone.
In fact, hill sprints don’t raise cortisol which is known to slow muscle growth and cause weight gain.
Contrary to what most people think, hill sprints are safer than sprinting on flat ground.
You see, your strides are shorter when you run uphill, so this reduces the impact on the knees and joints. The muscles can absorb the impacts of your landing without it affecting the joints or bones.
Another thing is that the hamstrings are not stretched a lot during hill sprints training so chances of a hamstring strain are low.
How to do hills sprints properly
Just like running, hill sprints require a proper form. Otherwise, you’ll end up with injuries or you won’t benefit fully from your workout.
How to perform hill sprints
Stand erect at the bottom of the hill. Keep one foot in front.
Then start sprinting up the hill as fast as you can.
Keep the arms bent and then move them vigorously back and forth.
The upper body should be leaning forward and keep the knees high with every stride.
Only the ball of your foot should step on the ground. The heels should stay off the ground during the sprint.
Once you get on top of the hill, walk down slowly to the starting position and repeat.
Word of caution: Survey the path you’ll sprint on to make sure it’s clear. Stepping on holes and stones while sprinting can cause serious injuries.
Now, there’s more which goes into hill sprints than what’s listed above. So, below are a few tips that will help you perform hill sprints safely and get the full benefits.
Hill sprints training tips
Make sure you’re ready to do hill sprints
Don’t start doing hill sprints right away if you haven’t exercised for years or if you can’t sprint on flat ground. This exercise is quite challenging and it requires some level of fitness.
If you’re in bad shape, walk every day for a few weeks to get fit. Then run on flat ground for 2 to 3 weeks to get ready for hill sprints. Feel free to skip walking and start with running is you’re not in very bad shape.
When you’re ready to do hill sprints, start with small hills. And then work your way up to steeper and longer hills.
Start with a warm up
Always do a full-body warm up at the start of every hill sprint session. This reduces the risk of injury and gets the body in workout-mode.
Some of the exercises you can do include: Jumping jacks, spot running, jumping rope, burpees, mountain climbers, and so on.
Take it easy on the first sprint
Don’t sprint at maximum intensity in the first sprint. Sprinting at maximum intensity in your first rep can pose a high injury risk.
Sprint at 70% intensity on the first sprint and then increase your intensity in the next sprint. Consider timing your sprints, it will make you push yourself workout after workout.
Rest after every sprint
Take enough rest after every sprint. You won’t be able to run at maximum speed if you don’t get enough rest. So after you sprint up the hill, walk down slowly and give yourself time to rest.
But don’t rest too long until the body completely cools down. Wait until you stop breathing heavily then sprinting again.
How many sprints should you do?
Well, the number of sprints you do will vary depending on the steepness of the hill, its length, and so on.
If you’re a beginner start with 10-15 minute workouts then gradually increase your workout durations.
Avoid doing too many sprints per workout because you can’t sprint properly if you’re exhausted. The other thing is that the body doesn’t recover quickly from hill sprints. So spread your hill sprint workouts through the week and do a maximum of workouts per week.
Downhill sprinting increases your strides and has a high impact on the bones and joints. So it is to be avoided if one is out of shape
That said, downhill sprinting can improve the leg’s shock absorbing capabilities and can improve athletic performance. But unless you’re in good shape, stick to walking down the hill slowly after the sprint.
Now you know something 99% of the people trying to get in shape don’t know – the fastest way to burn fat, build muscles and increase strength. So take advantage of it and you’ll see your body transform faster than you ever imagined possible.
It doesn’t take much to get started. You only need a hill, running shoes, and……that’s all! So what are you waiting for?
Will you add hill sprint training to your workout routine?