Workout of the Week: 3rd August - Hill Sprints
This week's workout is a fast, effective way to get your heart rate up. Like with stair sprints, hill sprints are based on HIIT training principles with short, high intensity intervals to build strength and power in your legs which not only will contribute to overall fitness, but also to your running efficiency for longer distances. By including ill sprints into my routine, I have knocked a significant amount of time off my 5 and 10km runs and its really amazing how much stronger my legs feel.
It is really important not to launch straight into hill sprints without a dynamic warm up. A 1-2km gentle run and stretching is key to keeping yourself safe during this exercise. You can perform these outside or on a treadmill - I personally prefer being outside but as long as you are pushing yourself to near maximal effort, the sprints are effective both ways!
When beginning to include hill sprints in your routine, you should ease yourself in with just 2-4 sprints of around 8 seconds long. If you do this twice a week, you can increase the number of sprints by about 2 per week and you should notice a real improvement in your speed and power fairly quickly.
The idea is simple - you choose a hill (or treadmill gradient) and sprint as fast as you can for about 8-12 seconds. I like to choose a point in the hill as my finish line so that I don't distract myself trying to time the run. Once you reach that point, you turn around and make your way down the hill, either jogging or walking. In terms of rest time, you may want to take an additional rest at the bottom for a minute or so, depending on your fitness and experience. As you get more used to the sprints, you may find that the way back down is enough recovery. The idea though is that you are well enough rested that you are able to perform your next sprint with the same effort level and power. You then repeat the sprints for a set number of times., or until you are fatigued. I usually aim for 5-10 sprints, depending on the gradient and distance, but as a beginner I would recommend starting with less and concentrating on working flat out for fewer sprints.
Whatever your ability, give this a go this week and let me know how you get on!