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Hill sprints are often underestimated in the cardio stakes. Love them or hate them you need to consider including them in your workout regime.

FACT: No other cardio workout produces results as quickly. Research suggests that they are kinder on joints than flat sprints and they can increase the speed at which you can recover between sets in the weight room as well. Whether you want to shed excess fat, perform better, or simply improve your health hill sprints are the way to go. 

Yes – they are tough but the pain doing them builds a mental resilience that will make you a better competitor too.

Below are a few guidelines for you to follow to create your own program.

Step 1 - Find a Hill

The best way to choose a good hill is to look for a hill that is at least 40 metres long. In fact, the longer the better. The hill should be steep enough so that it is challenging for you to walk up and down. I’m afraid the steeper the better, too.

Step 2 - Get Ready

 Begin your workout with a light warm-up. This will help prepare your body for the workout ahead. Warm-up by performing 10-15 minutes of arm circles, burpees, high kicks, jumping jacks and squats. Do 5 sets of each exercise for 5-10 reps and you’ll be ready to go.

Step 3 - Time to Run

Before you sprint make sure you have considered your technique. Below are several tips to ensure you perform your sprints with proper form:

  • Keep your chin up and eyes forward. Don’t look down no matter how tired you get.

  • Your chest should be out and shoulders back as you run up the hill.

  • Don’t clench your fists. Instead, lightly squeeze your fists or run with hands open.

  • Keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle and move them up and down. Don’t let them cross over your body as you run.

  • Pick your knees up high as you run and keep your hips forward. Never move from side to side.

  • Push explosively off the balls of your feet with every step. Your heels shouldn’t make contact with the ground.

The first time you run hills I recommend not doing more than 5 sprints at about 75% of your maximum effort. You don’t want to burn yourself out on the first set. Increase your intensity with every sprint.

Add 1-2 sprints per week until you are performing 20 per workout with maximum effort.

Step 4 - Cool Down

Finish your workout by walking on flat ground until you are able to breathe normally. You can then perform 10-15 minutes of static stretching for all of your major muscle groups to keep from getting tight.

When You Should Do Hill Sprints

The best time to perform this workout is after you lift weights. This will keep your strength from being compromised in the weight room. If you can’t do your sprints shortly after you lift weights, do them several hours later or on your day off.

How Often Should You Do Hill Sprints

Start with 2 weekly workouts and increase to 4 per week over the course of a few months. If you can do 20 hill sprints 4 times a week you will be in the best shape of your life.

Making Your Workout More Challenging

Once you can perform 20 hill sprints with good technique it’s time to make the workout more challenging. Below are several ways to do so. Only try one of these at a time. Include more as your conditioning improves. 

  • Add an additional workout later in the week.

  • Increase the distance you sprint.

  • Decrease the amount of time you rest between eat sprint by running down the hill instead of walking.

  • Wear a weighted vest.

  • Perform a set of another exercise (i.e. bodyweight squats, kettlebell swings, push ups) before each sprint