How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Hill Running Workout
The intense incline workout works the body from head to toe. “Your quads, hamstrings, and glutes all light up when you’re climbing uphill,” he says. “Your calves also fire to help propel you upward as you climb.” And as with most running exercises, your core muscles are at play as well, “Particularly with the slight forward lean that you need to run uphill efficiently.”
With that, Merry breaks down the steps that will help you get the most out of your hill workouts and take your fitness to the next level.
Pro tip: Merry suggests finding a hill on a trail. The scenery and varied terrain make it go by more quickly than running uphill on a road.
First things first. You need to get your mind right. “Running hills is sometimes ‘type 2’ fun—it’s fun in hindsight,” he says. “But I don’t think I’ve ever finished a hill climb or workout and not felt accomplished!”
Now that your scenery and mindset are on point, Merry gives his top tips to help you succeed on your next hill run.
Just as there are things you want to avoid doing in every exercise and sport, Merry shares some pretty important “don’ts” you’ll want to avoid during hill training.
Merry recommends starting with a smaller and less steep hill when first starting out; a three to four percent grade can be a great place to start. “Initially, consider a mix of walking and running (I walk uphill when it gets tough/steep all the time, it’s part of it!),” says Merry. “If you can’t run uphill at all to start, walk the hill at a brisk pace, then jog or walk down to recover.” As your strength and fitness improve, Merry recommends you start sprinkling in 15-30 seconds of uphill running mixed with uphill walking periods that are equal or 2-3 times as long (e.g., 60-90 seconds).
Repeat this 4-6 times. As your fitness improves, increase the number of repeats.