How and Why to Run Hill Sprint Intervals: A Short Introduction
Hill sprints are one of the most effective methods for improving your running performance. They have been used since ancient times in various forms, but they were not widely known until the late 19th century when it was discovered that hill sprints could improve both endurance and speed. The benefits of hill sprinting are manyfold. First, they increase your heart rate which increases oxygen consumption and thus improves your aerobic capacity.
Second, they decrease your lactate threshold which decreases the amount of lactic acid produced during exercise and therefore improves your ability to recover from exertion. Third, they improve muscle strength and power by increasing the force production capabilities of the muscles involved in running. Finally, hill sprints reduce fatigue by decreasing muscle tension resulting in faster recovery between intervals.
The Benefits of Hill Sprints for Fat Loss
Hill sprints are very beneficial for fat loss because they increase metabolic rate and burn calories at a rapid pace. This means that you will lose weight much quicker than if you did nothing. You might even gain some too! There is no doubt that hill sprints are great for burning calories fast.
However, there is another reason why hill sprints are so good for losing body fat. When doing hill sprints you’re working your large muscle groups in a dynamic way which recruits more muscle fibers and tones and strengthens your muscles. When your muscles are stronger and more defined you appear leaner, even if you don’t lose any weight.
A Quick Note About Weight Loss
One thing that needs to be pointed out however is that although hill sprints will make you leaner, they will not make you smaller. This means that if you are overweight and start doing hill sprints, you will lose fat, but your weight may remain the same. This is because muscle is more dense than fat so when you gain muscle, even if your weight does not change you may appear smaller.
Let’s Get Down to It!
So now that we’ve gone over some of the benefits of hill sprints it’s time to get down to it and learn how to do them properly. As always, it is important that you warm up properly before any exercise routine. The best way to warm up for hill sprints is to walk on flat ground for 5-10 minutes and then do some dynamic stretches such as leg swings, arm swings, high knees, butt kicks etc. You can also jump rope for a few minutes if you have the stamina.
The next step is learning how to do the actual hill sprints. Before starting, make sure you find a safe and easy to climb hill. Start at the bottom of it so that you begin your sprint from ground level. Beginners should start with 8-12 repetitions and then have a one minute break before doing another sprint.
If you are more experienced you can begin with 16-20 repetitions and take a longer 2-3 minute break in between each one.
When you are ready to begin your repetitions, start at the bottom of the hill and sprint all the way up as fast as you can. Try your best to keep your strides long and quick while maintaining a steady pace. At the top of the hill, walk back down at a leisurely pace and repeat this for the desired number of repetitions. Once you are finished take a 5-10 minute cool down walk back home.
Sources & references used in this article:
The effects of sprint running training on sloping surfaces by GP Paradisis, CB Cooke – Journal of Strength and …, 2006 – search.proquest.com
Effect of the degree of hill slope on acute downhill running velocity and acceleration by WP Ebben, JA Davies… – The Journal of Strength & …, 2008 – cdn.journals.lww.com
Kinematic and postural characteristics of sprint running on sloping surfaces by GP Paradisis, CB Cooke – Journal of Sports …, 2001 – shapeamerica.tandfonline.com
Biomechanics of sprint running by A Mero, PV Komi, RJ Gregor – Sports medicine, 1992 – Springer
The optimal downhill slope for acute overspeed running by WP Ebben – International journal of sports physiology …, 2008 – journals.humankinetics.com
Resisted sprint training for the acceleration phase of sprinting by J Cronin, KT Hansen – Strength and conditioning Journal, 2006 – search.proquest.com
Generic versus small-sided game training in soccer by SV Hill-Haas, AJ Coutts, GJ Rowsell… – … journal of sports …, 2009 – thieme-connect.com