Hill sprints as an add-on to your sprint training

There are various methods that endurance coaches can implement, during the training process, to help athletes improve their physical condition; and, thus, their overall athletic performance. Naturally, each method deals with a different aspect of the athletes’ training. In this article, we’ll focus on speed; and, more specifically, how hill sprints can help athletes improve their speed. 

Implementing hill sprints for muscle strength and better speed

Every endurance athlete needs some strength training units in their weekly training program. And coaches always consider their athlete’s needs and goals, when deciding which type of strength workout is right for them. In this manner, athletes acquire strong musculoskeletal systems that help them cope with the increasing demands of their training. That’s the only way to improve the targeted parameters of their physical condition, each time; in this case, speed.

That said, to help their athletes improve their speed, coaches include hill sprints in their weekly programs. Indeed, hill sprints are a widely used training method for this purpose. And they can be a very effective component, within a wholesome, targeted resistance training program

How do hill sprints work?

So, let’s have a brief look into the mechanics of hill sprint training. Essentially, coaches instruct their athletes to run, or cycle, at their maximum speed, on an uphill terrain. Depending on the training goals each time, athletes are called to execute their hill sprint session for either a specific period of time, or a predetermined distance

In this way, the athlete uses their muscular system, not only to reach and maintain their maximum speed, but also to overcome the added resistance that the uneven uphill terrain provides. How is that achieved physiologically? Simply put, the muscular system ‘perceives’ this external parameter as resistance training. Hence, it activates the same adaptations in the body, as those occurring during — and, after — strength training sessions

Disclaimer: We should mention here that hill sprints cannot replace strength training. Instead, coaches should use this method as an add-on to their athletes’ sprint and strength training.

Key coaching guidelines for hill sprints

  • Hill sprinting does not constitute a complete strength training program on its own; but rather, a complementary strength and speed workout.
  • The duration of hill sprint repetitions should be less than 15 seconds.
  • It’s best to instruct athletes not to execute this workout more than 1-2 times per week — depending on the athlete’s fitness level — to avoid injuries and overtraining.
  • As a rule of thumb, the preferable incline for this type of hill training is 6-8%.

Wrapping up

When all is said and done, hill sprints can undoubtedly skyrocket athletes’ regular speed and strength workout. That’s because, when sprinting uphill, they’re not only performing sprint intervals; but, also, some serious lower-body strength work. Another advantage of hill sprinting worth noting (again 😊) is that, with time, it helps reduce the risk of injury. And, although hill sprints are an intense workout, the rewards that athletes reap are impossible to ignore.

Hill sprints as an add-on to your sprint training was last modified: October 14th, 2022 by Marilena Kokkinou