Hill Training

Any person who wants to be a successful long distance runner should have hill training as part of the cardiovascular endurance training regimen. Running up the hills increases the strength in the legs and builds up muscle power in the entire body. However, hill training is a highly demanding exercise because in hill training, you would be working body muscles that you rarely use in an ordinary cardio workout. Still, when you undertake hill training on a regular basis, it becomes easy and comfortable over time as you build cardiovascular endurance.


Benefits of Hill Training

The aerobic power of the body is strengthened by hill training. Since you fight the resistance of the slope of the hill, it hardens the body muscles gradually. Calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, and Achilles tendons are strengthened effectively by hill training. Further, hill training strengthens the upper body muscles that are not used in an ordinary cardio workout. The endurance power of the body increases by regular hill training. Your running speed also improves considerably by hill training. The stride length and frequency become perfect by hill training. At the same time, hill training should never be overdone. You should do hill training only once or twice a week.

In hill training, the body muscles contract at a faster pace and the pressure applied on them is higher. This quick contraction and higher pressure makes the muscles more powerful. Two to three times muscle fibers are developed in the muscles in hill training, compared to training on flat or even surfaces. In spite of the above advantages in hill training, the risk of injury is also higher in hill training. Before you start the hill training, you should do adequate stretching exercises. Keeping the body in a hydrated condition is very important in hill training. Hill training should be started only when you believe that you had developed enough strength and endurance power by running on flat surfaces.


Hill Training Principles

Hills that have an inclination of 5% to 15% grade are considered as short hills. When you run on short hills, your arm drive should be vigorous and the knee lift should be high. The hips should also be kept high, so that the hips do not lean forward but run tall. Short hills could be climbed in 30 seconds to one minute. Medium hills are the ones that take about one to two minutes to run up. Practicing in medium hills is particularly beneficial to middle distance runners. This training helps in building up the tolerance and endurance of lactic acid. Long hills are the ones that take more than 2 minutes to run up. These hills would also be much steeper than short and medium hills. The lactic acid accumulation is much higher while training on long hills. On the other hand, the power for each stride would be lesser in the long hills, compared to short and medium hills.

Running down the hills should also be practiced with care. Otherwise, the risk of injury to the muscles would increase. The descent down the hills should be with slow jogs. If you do not have hills in your area, you could practice hill training with a treadmill by varying the inclinations gradually.