Few workouts offer more bang for your buck than running up a hill. Uphill repeats will help you get stronger and faster and will improve your running form all at the same time. Along with fartleks, hill workouts serve as a good transition workout before you add more advanced workouts, like track sessions and tempo runs, into your schedule.
While there are a variety of hill workouts that runners can mix into their training schedules, the training plans here stick to sets of short, swift repeats in the range of 20–60 seconds on a moderate grade with an easy jog or walk back down the hill for recovery. By keeping the repeats at a minute or less, you can do more of them, run each one with good form, and reap all the benefits an incline has to offer.
Running up a hill encourages good running form because you’re forced to get up on your forefoot, lift your knees, and drive your arms to propel yourself forward. Try to run tall and plant your foot under your center of gravity while taking short, quick, powerful strides.
Muscularly, you engage everything from your lower legs to your hamstrings, hip flexors, core, and lower back when running uphill—all while fighting gravity. It’s essentially running-specific weight lifting for your legs. The stronger you can make these muscles, the more resilient you will be to injury.
Since you have to work harder to get up a hill than you do to move forward on flat ground, your heart rate will elevate more quickly, providing an instant stimulus to your cardiovascular system. The result? You get fit—fast!