Running up that hill is tough. You feel the resistance pushing against your legs, arms and lungs within the first step or two up that incline, and pretty soon you want to make a deal with God to switch places with someone else, anyone else.
But run up that hill over and over and you’ll eventually have no problems, plus you’ll be a much more formidable athlete.
Hill sprints are beloved by long-distance runners, bodybuilders and countless other athletes as a powerful way to build and tone muscle, boost endurance — they are the real-world equivalent to a HIIT workout.
Hills are a fact of life both physically and figuratively, so the sooner you learn how to conquer them the stronger you’ll be in all areas of your life.
Sprinting on an incline of about 6% or more targets your calves, thighs, glutes and quads like nothing else will with a low risk of injury because your feet stay closer to the ground.
Developing stronger muscles also protects you from future injuries, so it’s a great example of a win-win even before getting into the mental fortitude formed over time as you push yourself to repeat this highly unpleasant but highly beneficial task.
You do need to approach hill sprints carefully in the beginning, especially if you’re not an experienced runner, so here are some tips.
1. Find a hill — Given Greater Prescott’s terrain you will have a lot to choose from, but the best ones to start out on will have 20 to 30 yards of an incline that would challenge you a bit if you were just walking it.
2. Warm up — Spend a good 10 to 15 minutes light jogging, brisk walking, high knees, walking lunges and other dynamic exercises to start.
3. Sprint — Run up the hill one to five times, depending on your comfort level with the slope you’re on. Walk back down for your active rests in between, but take more time to recover if needed.
4. Cool down — Walk and stretch about 5 to 10 minutes to bring your heart rate down safely.