Hill Sprints - The Golden Ticket
We're sure many of you have been hitting the gyms, fitness classes and pounding the pavements to ensure you lose that extra Christmas weight or maybe you've begun a new fitness regime. Many of you will be doing better than you hoped and some of you will be thinking why isn't it happenening any faster. Albeit there are several key components to achieving your goals, consistency being one of them. However, are you using every weapon at your disposal, maybe not, this one doesn't even require much planning, equipment, expensive gym membership or even...time!
Now don't worry, you won't be running any hills as steep as this one, not yet anyway but a slight incline can prove incredibly beneficial and is considered by many to be the optimum method of burning body fat.
Hill sprints have become popular due to the nature that calorie expenditure can almost double a traditional steady state run plus you may also benefit from the notorious 'afterburn' effect, EPOC. This is the point at which you continue to burn calories up to 72 hours post exercise as part of your body's recovery process.
Is that it? No, certainly not. Hill sprints are demanding and as a result you should only do a few repetitions, beginners should aim for 6-8 reps building towards 10-12 repetitions. The durations of the sprints and gradients all contribute to the difficulty but we'd advise that you don't start at anything longer than 60m and choose a safe and relatively subtle incline to get going with.
(Our favourite session at the moment is 5 x 2 x 100m inclines with a jog back recovery, we then have 60 seconds rest after every 2 reps.)
In addition to this hill running is shown to reduce the chance of injury, this is due to the fact that running cadence is slowed, making foot contact more stable and stride length is reduced by the incline. Finally, research has also shown the reduce impact of hill running to be beneficial to the avoidance of injuries.
For all those looking to maintain muscle mass but in the process of dropping body fat, hill sprints are for you as they have been shown to reduce catabolism that is often linked to traditional steady state cardio. In fact they may even help you build muscle. The extra force required by sprinting and in particular hill sprints actually recruits the muscle to develop and you will see an increase in leg strength as a result. The hormone spike will also look after those 'gains' so you don't need to worry about wasting away.
Disclaimer: We must advise you though, hill sprints are tough, they are a high intensity exercise and as a result please ensure you build up a foundation of fitness and consult a health professional before starting any new fitness or nutrition programme.
So why not try out 2 or 3 hill sprints per week over the next 4 weeks, it should only take you around 15 to 20 minutes, so no more excuses!
Until next time, Train Hard!