Importance Of Hill/ Upslope Running

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hill run

All those who run in any capacity must have heard about hill repeats as an essential part of training. Besides making you more efficient, faster, and injury-free, running upslope increases basic organ system health and fitness. There has been a lot of research on hill running training and it has been proved that hill training benefits all types of runners.

Immediate Benefits Of Hill Training

Immediate benefits are the increase in VO2Max, decrease in heart rate, and increase in race performance. While running upslope and maintaining a pace enable us to practice close to the lactate threshold. This results in increasing the overall efficiency of a runner, especially endurance runners. The results are evident in as low as 12 weeks having two training sessions per week dedicated to hill/ upslope training.

How It Works

While negotiating an upslope during training, we engage more motor units that are bundles of muscle fibers. This enhances muscular strength and endurance. Engagement of core is also optimum. When running uphill one needs to push the leg harder into the ground and the core is required to stabilize the tilt.

Pushing upslope requires higher power as compared to track. The benefit is then seen when running on plain tracks. This is the reason why sprinters do uphill workouts and drills. Also since our speeds are low while doing uphill, we have fewer chances of injuries.

For an endurance athlete, hills enable better utilization of energy by regulating the system close to the threshold. This lead to enhancement of threshold levels leading to higher VO2 Max and Lactate boundaries.

Hill Repeat Training Plan

A hobby runner should have at least one upslope/ hill training session per week. As we go up in level, we need to increase it to twice a week. During of-season training season, a professional athlete may go as high as 3 training sessions per week.

While planning hill training, one must not worry too much about gradient. Initially one can have slight slopes and later increase it depending on the progress. One can practice hill running on a treadmill too which is very effective and can be planned well.

A sample 6 week training program for hobby runners/ beginners based on one day of hill training per week is given below. One can increase or decrease the intensity depending on level and fitness.

Week 1

  • Warmup by jogging for about 20 min. Do some dynamic stretching (watch video).
  • Find a hill with about 4% gradient. Just do 4 to 5 uphill sprints in 60 seconds. Jog back or walk back to the starting point. Take 2 to 3 minutes recovery between sprints.
  • Some static stretching and cooling down

Week 2

  • Warmup by jogging for about 20 min. Do some dynamic stretching
  • Increase the number of repeats of uphill sprints to 6 at least. Decrease recovery time by 30 seconds.
  • Some static stretching and cooling down

Week 3

  • Warmup by jogging for about 20 min. Do some dynamic stretching
  • Do at least 6 sprints but increase time from 60 seconds to 90 seconds. Walk back or jog back to starting point.
  • Maintain enough recovery time so that you can maintain same pace during upslope running.

Week 4

  • Warmup by jogging for about 20 min. Do some dynamic stretching
  • Increase gradient to 5% or 6%.  Try do 6 runs of 2 minutes each. Jog or walk back as usual. Recovery time as required between runs
  • Cool down as usual but must include static stretching

Week 5

  • Warmup as always
  • 6 to 8 repeats and gradient of at least 6%. Increase pace. Jog or walk back. Reduce recovery time.
  • Cool down as usual.

Week 6

  • Warmup as usual
  • Try find an upslope area/ hill which can give you a good running experience for longer distance. Do not worry if the slope is varying. Try run 1 km or so at slower speeds. Increase the distance if you think you can do more.
  • Cool down as usual.

By the end of week 6, you will see changes in your normal running. Also, you will be able to further increase the running upslope distance easily in the following weeks.

Article By: Capt Jitu Harjai Fitness Expert H2FCare

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