Hill running has many benefits for runners. There are many hill running workouts that increase your speed and power, as well as your endurance, strength and Vo2 max.
According to a 2014 study involving 32 physically fit distance runners, hill running can improve the overall performance of long distance runners.
The fact is, running on a flat surface only gets you so far when it comes to speed and power.
Hill running tests your legs, arms and core in so many more ways, which bring a multitude of benefits.
Uphill running also forces you to think about your form a lot more. You have to use your legs and arms in a certain way to power you up the hill.
In addition, if you struggle with common running injuries, hill running is a great way to strengthen your muscles and connective tissues.
So what are you waiting for? Here are three hill running workouts that increase speed and power.
Short and fast hill workout
Short and fast hill repeats are probably what most runners are familiar with when it comes to hill running.
This type of hill workout is great to increase your strength, speed and power as well as your endurance and Vo2 max.
They are usually 60-90 seconds in length with a recovery jog in between as you run down the hill.
A short and fast workout would normally be done using your 5-10k pace – so we’re talking a fairly quick pace here!
Find a 4-8% grade hill (grade is the angle of the hill) and start at the bottom of the hill. Run up the hill for 90 seconds at your 5k pace.
If you find this too challenging, vary the time and pace according to your needs. So instead, for example, run for 60 seconds at your 10k pace.
Repeat this 8-10 times and remember to have a recovery jog in between each repeat.
If you want to switch things up a bit, you can complete a reverse pyramid workout:
- Repeats 1 to 3 – run for 90 seconds at your 10k pace.
- Repeats 4 to 6 – run for 60 seconds at your 10k pace.
- Repeats 8 to 10 – run for 45 seconds at your 5k pace.
These types of short and fast workouts are best included in the middle to later phases of your training plan. They can be quite intense so it’s best you have built up your base fitness before attempting them.
Long repetition hill workout
If you want to challenge yourself, then long repetition hill workouts are for you! These are not for the faint hearted.
Like short and fast workouts, they are one of the best hill running workouts that increase your speed and power.
When I think of long repetition workouts, I think of my time running in the Peak District. The Peaks have long, relentless hills which make hill running particularly challenging.
Long repetition hill workouts are not only physically challenging, but mentally challenging too as they never seem to end!
These are best done where you have lots of undulating hills to play with. Find your starting point then do 5 x 3 min hills with a recovery jog in between.
Instead of jogging back to your starting point, just continue until you have completed all three repetitions.
Because long repetition hill workouts mainly target your aerobic energy system, these are best done in the early phases of your training plan.
High intensity hill workout
The high intensity hill workout is the most challenging hill workout because the recovery jog is done at a faster pace.
Making them one of the most effective hill running workouts that increase speed and power.
By reducing the amount of time in which you’re able to recover between repetitions, it makes the workout much more demanding physically.
For this reason I recommend you include them in the middle to late stages of your plan once you’ve had the chance to build up your base fitness.
Here are a few examples of high intensity hill workouts:
- 8 repeats – run for 90 seconds at your 5k pace, recovery jog at your 10k/half marathon pace.
- 8 repeats – run for 60 seconds at your 10k pace, recovery jog at your half marathon pace.
- 8 repeats – run for 45 seconds at your 5k pace, recovery jog at your 10k pace.
Bonus: Treadmill hill workout
I wanted to include a treadmill hill workout as not everyone lives near hilly terrains (including me!)
The good news is that you can complete hill running workouts that increase your speed and power on the treadmill, including the above workouts.
Be sure to do a proper warm up before the workout, as with any run, and choose a hill grade between 3-7% to complete your workout. Many treadmills nowadays have incline options which you can select from.
Remember to take 2-4 minutes recovery in the form of a jog on a flat incline in between each repetition, unless you’re doing the high intensity workout.