Hill sprinting is really a sort of interval training session but due to its huge benefits, its worth going into slightly more detail.
If anyone has doubts as to how beneficial hill sprinting can be to your fitness, you do not need to look further than world class rugby union professionals who include them in their routine.
Basically, hill sprinting involves selecting a hill of a steepness and length that suits your current fitness level. A good starting point is choosing a hill, or part of a hill, that’s about 80 meters long. Obviously the steeper the hill, the harder the workout but the aim is that you give 100% effort in the sprint up the hill, so choose a steepness which means you have to work hard to reach the top, not one that is too easy or one that you cant get to the top of!
Once you find a hill, you will need a stopwatch. A typical hill sprint session will last around 15 minutes but be warned they are very hard sessions but the benefits are well worth it.
Start at the bottom of the hill and sprint to the top at 100% effort. Once at the top, start a stopwatch and give yourself exactly 60 seconds to slowly jog back to the bottom. At the beginning you may find it hard to judge how fast or slow to jog so you reach the bottom at the right time as the idea is you never walk. If you jog to slow, you wont have reached the bottom to begin your sprint again and you will end up resting for too long. Jog too quick and you will get to the bottom early and be waiting for the time to pass.
So, aim to reach the start point at the bottom of the hill in exactly 60 seconds and use the time to rest, catch your breath and get ready for the next sprint.
When you reach the bottom of the hill after the first sprint stop your stop watch so it reads 1 minute and then turn around and sprint to the top again. Once at the top, re-start your watch and jog back down, again in 60 seconds. At the bottom, stop your watch and repeat.
The stopping and starting of your watch is a useful tip to record how many sprints you have done. When you train hard, its easy to lose count so a quick glance at your watch will tell you how many sprints you have done.
If you can, aim for 8 sprints which will take about 12 minutes.
If you find that this is too much, just ease back and work back up to a higher intensity. One way is to reduce the steepness of the hill, which will obviously take less energy to run up, so choose a hill with less of a gradient. Otherwise, reduce the length of the sprint. As previously said, the ideal is that you are completely wiped out after your 8th sprint so if you find that you are knackered after just 5 sprints then reduce steepness or length of the hill and likewise increase the steepness or length if you feel it was too easy.
Remember, hill sprinting is not easy and really does take it out of you so don’t do more than 2 sessions a week but be sure in the knowledge that these sessions will build endurance like nothing else. If you have never tried before, you will see a huge increase in your fitness levels so they are fully recommended as one of the best ways to improve your fitness, but take it easy!