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Hill Sprints- Gain Leg Strength and Endurance

Nov 28, 2007
A deficiency in leg strength and endurance is an area which can affect the function of individuals in everyday life. Whether it is your profession, family life, hobby or sporting endeavour it is more than likely that you will spend a significant amount of time using your legs. An efficient, worthwhile and enjoyable method of improving the fitness variables of our legs is through hill sprints. Hill sprints are also a superior weight loss tool, with the calorie expenditure being greater than the flat sprint relatives. Hill sprints can be seen as a cross between sprinting and weightlifting; this will have significant benefit to body composition, not to mention self discipline.

While by name it is a sprint, in essence the percentage effort required is relative to your current fitness level. A sprint may consist of a fast paced walk up the incline.

Hill sprints can be split into two categories: Long-gradual incline and Short-steep incline. Attention should also be paid to technique and session preparation as well as recovery.

Session preparation
As with all forms of physical activity a full body warm up is a requirement. A good warm up should consist of movement which slightly raises your heart rate and prepares your muscles for action; this can be done either on electronic exercise equipment or by a series of dynamic stretches- stretching through a continuos range of movement- for 5 to 10 minutes.

Long-gradual incline
Hill sprints over a long- gradual incline will train your legs- primarily- from an endurance perspective, with strength being secondary. Choose an area relatively even surfaced which is on a gradual incline of 20-30 meters over a length of 100-150 meters. Complete two sets of five sprints at a 70-90% effort, slowly jogging back to the starting point after each incline run, with a 60-180 second break between sets.

Short-steep incline
Hill sprints on a short-steep incline will train your legs from a strength aspect, with endurance being an added benefit. Locate an area with solid surface with three different inclines of approximately 5, 10 and 15 meters over a 30 meter length. Complete one set of three runs to each incline (total of nine sets) at a 90-100% effort, with a walk/slow jog back from each sprint, and a 200 meter walk/slow jog recovery between sets.

Technique
A focus on technique is important to get the most out of your hill sprints. Pay attention to a strong leg drive and efficient arm motion. It is also important to maintain a stable core- abdominals and lower back- to prove a solid base for the limbs to work from.

Session recovery
Due to the nature of hill sprints being both concentric (muscle shortening- up hill) and eccentric movements (muscle lengthening- down hill) you will suffer DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) in the 24 to 48 hour period post session. To aid your recovery complete static stretching- 30 second hold- post session, with massage and hydrotherapy also being recommended. Add hill sprints into your training regime one to three times per week, making sure of at least one day rest in between sessions. You will notice an improvement in strength and endurance which will take you a step closer to achieving your fitness and lifestyle goals.
About the Author
Gavin Stone is a leading Personal Trainer, fitness expert and publisher of iseekactive.com. His training methods and philosophies are unique and aimed at producing results for his clients. Gavin's articles cane be found at: iseekactive.com
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