Most people avoid hill repeats because they present more challenges than flat ground running. Knowing this, you might ask yourself, are hill repeats good for runners?
Even though most runners don’t prefer hill repeats, it has so many benefits. Most running coaches have to include it in their training program. The routine helps athletes gain confidence, strength, improve speed, and develop mental endurance.
Not all hills are the same because they have varied incline levels and different lengths. But when running the hill repeats, the concept remains the same. Run as fast as you can when going uphill and recover when going downhill walking or jogging.
Are Hill Repeats Safe?
Running uphill is more challenging than going downhill. However, the fundamental principles of the two are wide apart. As you run up the hill, the incline level keeps changing and so do the muscles you will use and angle movement.
Incline running is like resistance exercises. These target calf raises and squats especially if the angle keeps growing steeper.
While running downhill is easy, it’s the most dangerous. First, you can fall by tripping your feet or slipping depending on the terrain. Running downhill fast poses greater risks.
Downhill running causes repetitive stress on your feet that leads to injuries. Each step you take sends shockwaves up your legs and knees and over time risks may develop. It’s the reason why hill repeats aren't everyday exercise yet they have many health benefits achieved.
What are the Benefits of Hill Repeats?
The adage “hard work pays” is true for hill repeats. Athletes bored of running on flat surfaces should try hill repeats. They will gain the following benefits.
Hill running strengthens your leg muscles and this can result in reduced running-related injuries. It’s the form of exercise that trains your hamstring and glute muscles to cope with different incline levels.
When on the decline, you engage the medial and lateral quadricep muscles. This increases the stability of your knee joints.
Hill repeats aren't a direct substitute for strength training. Try powering up on your incline and you will realize that it integrates most of your muscles. It also strengthens the Achilles tendons and hip flexors more than when running on a flat surface.
Runners that dislike strength training can sub these exercises with hill repeats. They help to build muscles without having to lift weights.
The muscles required for sprinting are the ones that hill repeats target. Running incline helps to build muscle strength. This will improve your sprint speed when running on flat terrain.
Hill repeats also offer mental endurance and confidence. But if you don’t want to run outdoors, you can simulate hill repeats on your treadmill. Adjust the incline level and run as fast as you can for 2-3 minutes then jog to aid your recovery. Repeat the process 10-12 times.
Burn Calories and Boost Intensity
When running on a flat surface, your speed increases because of the intensive boost. In contrast, hill repeats boost intensity while running at a constant speed. Running uphill increases your perspiration rate, heart rate, and respiration.
Boosting intensity leads to calorie burn. If you have an intensive run, you will burn more calories in a single session. The incline level of the hill also determines the calorie burn. Consider adding hill repeats to your routine and you can expect to burn more fats.
Upper Body Strength
When running uphill, you force your arms to move harder than when you run on flat ground. It provides stability to the core and this helps to boost the upper body strength of athletes.
Hill repeats aren't a direct substitute for strength training. Try powering up on your incline and you will realize that it integrates most of your muscles.
Hill repeats, improves your technique and builds your strength. As you prepare for a race event, include running uphill in your workout. You gain the mental strength and confidence to challenge incline on the course map.
For your next race, look at the race map and see the elevation points of the course. You can train hill repeats on the specific hills on the course map. But you can also find others with similar elevations to become race-ready.
Are hill repeats good for runners? Yes, but you should master the technique so that you reduce injury risks. Remember, when running uphill or downhill, you should use shorter strides. Running longer strides makes incline running slower and more intensive and this has a great impact on your body.
Running downhill using longer strides is easy but isn’t safe.