Get Lean & Explosive with Hill Sprints

By on January 14, 2010
hill sprints for conditioning

I find hill sprints an awesome conditioning drill, a great way to increase explosive power, endurance and leg strength, especially the hamstrings and groin muscles.

I remember when I was at school I used to see people my age and younger running a local hill, a decent incline up to the top, round the tree and down over and over. I used to think they were mad!

Fast forward a number of years and that is no longer the case.  I got into it by chance, a local running route some time ago had some pretty sharp inclines and I used to challenge myself every time to get up them as quick as possible. Just got me thinking that I could do the same thing over and over as a different way of conditioning without a 5 mile run attached.

The Same Hill

I ended up using the same hill that those runners did years before; it is under a mile away from where I live, which serves as a decent warm up by way of a jog.

This is a great way to develop…..

Mark out about 100 yards on the hill (I used that tree as a marker) and aim for around 10 sprints. The first sprint is always at a moderate pace, really to acquaint the tendons muscles and ligaments to the hill, get the arms pumping in a rhythm and to get me breathing right. Walk down the hill for a recovery period. This way you get the most out of every sprint.

Long stride

The next sprint, I work on a long stride pattern mostly for power building as this technique retards forward momentum somewhat. It also restricts all out sprinting and serves as a further warm up.

All out fastest sprints

After that you should be sufficiently warm to go all out, this involves a short stride and a high knee motion going for as fast a leg frequency as possible, don’t forget to pump your arms and keep the sprint going to the end, in fact imagine the end is 5 metres past actual end point so you don’t allow yourself to fade.

Ramp the intensity!

Just doing the sprints is fine but what about ramping up the intensity?

At the bottom of the hill I perform a body weight exercise, I usually perform 1 upper body then a lower body the next time. This could be push ups (different variations), squats, lunges, even burpees.

Sample Workouts

Sprint up a hill 10 times and walk back down.

Intensify it with Body weight…

If you want to challenge yourself add some body weight exercises at the bottom of the hill as follows….

  1. Sprint uphill – Walk back down – 20 Body weight Squats
  2. Sprint uphill – Walk back down – 20 push ups
  3. Sprint uphill – Walk back down – 20 Lunges
  4. Sprint uphill – Walk back down – 20 Close grip Push ups
  5. Sprint uphill – Walk back down – 20 Squat Jumps

you don’t have to think of dozens of exercises, use the 5 above and repeat twice or just use 1 exercise or 1 upper and one lower body. The combinations are endless and are only restricted by your imagination.

Make it competitive…..

If there is a bunch of you introduce partner drills……

Race each other up hill, then walk down to recover at the bottom. When the last man reaches the bottom go again. It pays to be fastest uphill to get more rest down. Remember though, walk back down the hill for recovery.

Not tough enough? Try hill carrys….

Carry your partner up the hill as fast as possible, then both walk back down and repeat with roles reversed. If you don’t have a partner for hill carry’s, introduce objects such as sandbags, tyres, sleds. Anything to add resistance.





About Dean Coulson

• International Best Selling Author of the Fit Formula • Feature writer on Nutrition for the Uk’s biggest selling Martial arts magazine – Martial Arts Illustrated • Presenter & speaker - Tour the UK with Bafta Award Winning writer Geoff Thompson. ( ) • Owner and Performance coach at Assert Fitness Ltd. Taking our clients Dreams and makes them a reality, through the realms of coaching all aspects of health and fitness to busy professionals. • ,