People ask me all the time, “What’s the best exercise I can do for myself?” Well, that’s a very vague question. It doesn’t tell me what your goals are and it doesn’t tell me what you want to get out of your workout. So naturally I give them a vague response. My go-to exercise when in doubt of what to do is hill sprints. Hill sprints are the number one exercise in my book. No matter what your fitness goals are, hill sprints can be incorporated in any routine.
Hill sprints are ideal for endurance, strength training, and explosiveness. I’ve never came across another single exercise that checks all those boxes as effectively as hill sprints. They help lose weight, build up strength in your legs, and is highly effective in increasing endurance. That’s why hill sprints are the total package and usually my go to exercise for those not sure what to do.
Why are hill sprints so effective? For one it’s sprinting. Sprinting requires the maximum amount of effort over a short period of time. This is why it’s great for building endurance. Over time through repetition of max effort and rest, the sprinting portion will start to become easier while the time needed to rest will become less. HIIT or high intensity interval training is centered on this idea of max effort, then rest, then repeat.
Another reason why hill sprints are so effective is that they are up hill. This means they are much harder than running on a flat surface. That’s where the strength element comes in. Hill sprints are not your average endurance exercise. It’s sprinting with a greater amount of resistance than flat running. That’s why hill sprints are strength building on top of endurance building. The resistance and angle of running are the key to making hill sprints so effective. The resistance acts as added weight and the angle of which you’re running activates different muscles as opposed to running flat.
Depending on the degree of the hill or incline, you will be activating different muscles than you normally do running flat. The glutes are much more active the higher the degree of inclination. This incline is good for a number of reasons. For one, it adds resistance to the sprint. Two, it gets the glutes and calves much more involved. For this reason, hill sprints are ideal for those trying to increase their vertical leap. Since the stride in hill sprints is almost identical to the stride before jumping, I highly recommend it to athletes, such as basketball players, trying to increase their vertical. And lastly, the inclined angle of the running surface helps take away the harsh impact on joints. Running flat for a long period of time can have your knees and/or feet feeling a little sore overtime. If that’s the case, I highly recommend making the switch to hill sprints. Due to the incline, there is not as much distance for the foot to travel before impacting with the ground, making hill sprints much easier on joints. That’s why when running down a hill or on a decline, impact feels very harsh on your legs and joints. When going up the hill, it has the opposite effect and is easier on your legs.
If you’re looking for a great exercise to integrate into your fitness routine, I highly recommend adding in hill sprints. In my mind, they are the ultimate exercise and the best single thing anyone can do for their physical fitness. Hill sprints are ideal for endurance, strength building, and explosiveness. No other exercise can do all of those things as effectively as hill sprints. Furthermore, the incline adds more resistance and activates other muscles that are not usually challenged during flat running. Due to the low impact on joints from the incline, hill sprints are an all-around game changer for anyone. Whether you’re looking to make serious performance gains, looking to lose weight, or simply just trying to stay in shape, hill sprints are perfect for anyone.
Have you ever had experience with hill sprints?