The Four Best Hill Workouts for Runners to Add Power to Your Stride

Did you know running hills provides you with a good way to add intensity to your workouts? If you’re tired of the same fitness routine, we have the four best hill workouts to add variety so you don’t get bored.

Do you love hills or hate them? Most people tend to hate them because they are really hard to run on.

But, did you know that hills are actually extremely helpful to your fitness? Let us show you why you should love your hill workouts.

Uphill runs can be done anywhere that you can find a hill, or in the comfort of your own home using the incline on your treadmill.

Hill workouts are a must to help you become a stronger runner. We will share how you can get the most out of your hill workouts and make them fun!

1. Short Hill Sprints

There are many benefits for running short hills. They increase your power and the efficiency of your stride. They also strengthen all of the muscles that you use for running.

Both will help make you much less prone to injuries.

How to do it:

  • Warm up with a one to two mile run.
  • Find a hill that is 4 to 6 percent gradient.
  • Sprint up the hill for 10 seconds.
  • Jog slowly back to the bottom.
  • Start out with 8 sets, and once you can do those comfortably, up the sets and the steepness of the hill.

2. Long Hill Sprints

The benefits of long hill sprints are very similar to those of strength training. However, with this intense workout, you can see results in a shorter amount of time.

Running hard uphill will build muscle strength in your hips, glutes, and quads. Running long sprints uphill will simulate an interval workout.

You will use the hill as a source of resistance, and then use the downhill as recovery time.

How to do it:

  • Warm up with a 10-15 minute walk or jog.
  • Find a hill with a 6-8 percent grade that will take you 30-60 seconds to run up.
  • Run at a hard pace up the hill.
  • Once you reach the top, rest for a minute or two to catch your breath.
  • Jog slowly back down to the bottom of the hill.
  • Repeat 4-6 times.

3. Backwards Hill Drills

You read that right! The purpose of this workout is to literally run up the hill backwards.

This drill builds strength in your quads and helps you to run downhill easier so you are less likely to develop a running injury.

How to do it:

  • After an easy run, start by walking backwards up a hill for one minute.
  • Repeat this 5 times.
  • Once walking uphill is easy for you, try running up the hill at a slow pace.
  • Run backwards for one minute up the hill and repeat 5 times.

4. Short Hill Repeats

Short hill repeats help you to strengthen your legs by running while helping to build speed. They also help build up your stamina, which in turn helps you to conserve energy while running.

Short hill sprints are short bursts that are done at maximum intensity with 100 percent effort.

How to do it:

  • Warm up with a 10-15 minute walk or jog.
  • Find a steep hill.
  • Run at a moderate pace up the hill.
  • Jog back down as recovery.
  • Repeat 8 to 10 times.

Make it Fun

Any of these workouts are more fun with a friend. Find a running friend that will race you to the top.

Another way to make it fun on your own is to time yourself. See how long it takes you to make it to the top and then try to beat that time.

Image Source Flickr user Malcolm Slaney

Correct form for hill running

When you run hills, there is a correct way to do it. If you don’t run with proper form, you will raise your risk of injury, and you will not get the full benefits from running hills.

Uphill Running

First off, know that when running uphill, your pace will be slower. Uphill running requires more effort and will slow you down.

To run uphill correctly, you need to lean slightly into the hill from the ankles, not the waist. Run with a shorter stride, moving your arms more than normal, and keep your eyes focused in front of you.

Downhill Running

Running downhill causes more strain on your lower body, and you have a greater chance of being injured.

Lean into the hill and let the gravity carry you down. Don’t lean back and slow down.

You will want to take short, quick steps which will help minimize the impact on your legs. Don’t run down with long strides.

While running downhill, you will want to run a little faster than your normal pace.

Start out Slow

If you have never done hill sprints, you should not jump right into them. Doing too much too fast can increase your risk of injury since running uphill is very stressful on your body.

You should start with 3-4 uphill sprints, two times a week. Since you are working at a higher intensity level than normal, your body will need more time to recover.

As you gain strength and power, you can up your number of sprints and intensity of the workouts.

Make sure when you are sprinting up the hill that you run tall and don’t lean. If you lean into the hill, you lose power and sacrifice your form. This could result in an injury.

Reap the Benefits of Running Hills

Running hills makes your run more exciting and breaks up the boredom of running the same route day after day. Running uphill activates the entire body, which means that you are getting a solid workout every time.

Not only are you building strength in your muscles, adding speed to your pace, and upping your stamina, but your lungs and heart are also benefiting from running uphill.

Working at a more intense level will force your heart and lungs to become stronger, which in turn will up your endurance level.

Uphill running can also help you lose weight. Sprinting uphill will burn more calories than sprinting on flat ground because you are putting in a greater amount of effort.

These are all great reasons to lace up and head for the hills!