Top 5 Reasons to Hill Sprint

Written by shelley moore
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Top 5 Reasons to Hill Sprint
Adding resistance to your sprints can help you achieve gains in speed. (Running down the Hill image by Fotografie mit Seele from Fotolia.com)

Hill sprinting provides additional advantages for your running routine. This activity has benefits for improving strength, toning muscles not used during a regular running routine, building speed and more. Fitness expert Matt Furey recommends beginning with brisk walking up hills and switching to jogging or running up the hill after the walking becomes easy. Once running also becomes easy, start sprinting up the hill for your new supercharged workout.

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Strengthening Muscles

Hill running is the most specific strengthening exercise for runners, as explained by Jeff Gaudette of Premier Coaching Online. Hill sprints increase leg strength more than running or sprinting on flat land does. Because of the added resistance, the activity provides an extra workout for the muscles in the lower back as well as the hamstrings and calves. It also helps make ankles stronger.

Avoiding Injury

Sprinting on flat land can lead to muscle pulls and strains, typically in the hamstring. This is particularly true for weekend warriors who don't exercise regularly during the week. A muscle injury is unlikely when hill sprinting, as noted by Furey, because the resistance prevents you from reaching your maximum speed. Additionally, because sprints are by definition short in duration, lactate does not build up in the muscles, making it less likely for muscles to become fatigued and sore. Hill sprinting and running also decrease impact shock on your body compared with running on flat land because your feet have a shorter distance to hit the ground when moving uphill.

Building Speed

Adding resistance to your sprints can help you achieve gains in speed, according to strength and conditioning coach Tim Kauppinen, writing at the Brian Mac Sports Coach website, brianmac.co.uk. Learning to overcome resistance helps you deal with inertia when starting from a stationary position, and you'll move to full speed faster. You can also do resistance training by sprinting on a flat surface and dragging equipment behind you, but you don't need this equipment when hill sprinting. Additionally, because hill sprinting makes your ankles stronger, you'll be able to push off the ground harder. The more forceful the push, the longer your stride becomes. Running uphill also makes you raise your knees higher, which helps increase stride length. When doing hill sprints, you'll also naturally use aggressive arm and shoulder action. You can transfer this skill to flat-surface sprinting.

Burning Calories and Toning Muscles

Hill running and hill sprinting burn more calories than running on flat land. The activities also tone different parts of your body that aren’t as affected by running on flat surfaces. Short, explosive hill sprints activate more muscle fibres more forcefully than other types of running, Gaudette says.

Providing Variation

Hill sprints provide variation in a running routine that can become dull, particularly if you tend to do your running at an indoor track or gym. Running outdoors gives you the chance to get fresh air and enjoy scenery. Hill sprints also are beneficial for anyone looking for a change to a cardio workout routine. Bodybuilding.com notes that switching to an outdoor workout provides a break from exercising with loud music, televisions and fluorescent lighting.

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