Sprints, as we have seen in the previous articles and videos on We R Stupid, are among the most powerful workouts one could perform, both for fat loss and muscle & strength gain. Hill sprints are one of them.
Hill sprints are the next level in sprints, and if you have never tried it, your workout is probably incomplete. But there is a word of caution before you move on to hill sprints, you need to have basic conditioning levels for sprinting on the flat ground. Hill sprints are pretty hard on the lower body musculature. Over enthusiasm won’t help you much in this. If after reading this article and watching the related video, you think you need to rush to the hills for a sprint workout, then hold your horses. You have a much greater risk of pulling a hamstring or Achilles tendon when sprinting on an elevated ground.
For me personally, sprints were a part of my life from the very beginning. Being a son of a former National Award-winning track & field athlete, sprinting came more naturally to me, until I learned the right technique under my athletics coach. Thereafter, the athletics workouts primarily consisted of short and medium distance sprints, with tons of plyometric and strength training workouts.
But the association with running continued and became more aggressive during my military training in the National Defence Academy. The Academy is surrounded by hills and forests, we had plenty of nature and hills to enhance our training intensity, and our high hill workouts comprised of much more than sprints. Hill sprints, partner carry drills, animal walks uphill, etc. formed a major part of our training pattern. It was brutally hard, but I loved it.
Thereafter, I continued with sprints for some time, until I ventured into flying training and then bodybuilding, which shifted my focus towards a different aspect of training. Later, when the love for sprints pulled me back towards itself, I was in shock, how de-conditioned the body had become, as the burn due to the lactic acid build-up was such that, within a couple of sprints, my thighs kind of jammed, and the soreness continued for days. But that’s an indication to get back and pursue it properly stupid, not to give up.
Since then, I make sure at least once a week, I go for a sprint session. Thanks to the conditioning part, my recent travel to the hills, was more fruitful with the addition of high hill sprints. I did the sprints for 2 consecutive days, for a distance of app. 80-100m, mainly on an uneven (but not slippery) surface.
To start the sprints, start with a basic walk, progressing on to a jog, and then a slightly fast run to open the strides. Then slowly move on to sprints with moderate intensity, before you finish your workout with 5-7 fast sprints, with good intensity. Try to remain within 90-95% intensity, and not go 100% all out. That intensity if fine for well-conditioned athletes, but not for people for whom sprints are just an occasional affair.
Initially, the hill sprints will be hard, and the lactic acid accumulation will be high, weekly sprints will improve your lactic acid threshold. You can plan two weekly workouts if time and conditions permit. Keep one on a hill and other on flat ground. Start with 6-8 hill sprints, and move on to 12-15. After finishing each sprint, come down slowly downhill to the starting point, and depending on the readiness of the body and breath, initiate the next sprint. The fatigue would be cumulative. By the end of the workout, you would be actually panting like a dog, and the lungs would be crying for more air. Because the pollution levels are quite low in the hills, you would actually see your intensity and oxygen uptake improving dramatically.
The best part, it’s the simplest thing you can do. You don’t need any sort of special equipment. Just the hill and you. Also, elevated ground sprinting, won’t be hard on your joints and minimizes the chances of injury, because the strides automatically shorten in length, and the speed reduces correspondingly. To maintain the same stride length and speed, your body has to work much harder on an inclined surface.
The fat loss and strength gain you will experience, I bet, you’d have never experienced before. No other running protocol comes close to a hill sprints routine. Try it.