You already know that sprint intervals can burn fat fast (seven times faster than steady-state cardio), but with just a few rounds of hill sprints you can incinerate fat in the time it takes to lace up your shoes. We asked strength coach and author Jason Ferruggia to let us in on his favorite conditioning tool.
“Hill sprints are safer on your legs because of the angle of your body and the shorter stride,” Ferruggia says. There’s also greater loading going uphill, and your lower body and arms learn to contract faster. Don’t worry about lactic acid, either. Increasing training volume by 10–20% per week will improve your lactate threshold, researchers say. Hill sprints have been used by some of the best athletes in the world. NFL Hall of Famer Walter Payton’s motto: “You’ve got to beat [the hill].”
How to beat the hill
Get aligned: “Strive for high knee lift and use the ankles’ full range of motion; but make sure your foot lands directly underneath you, and land on the ball of it, never the heel,” Ferruggia says.
Stride right: For shorter hills on which you can reach the top in fewer than 30 seconds, keep your strides short, knees high, body upright, and arms pumping at 90° angles. For a 30- to 90-second summit (a medium sprint) use a longer stride.
Breathe out: For high-intensity runs, your breathing must be on point. “Take a deep breath before starting, and slowly let it out in a hissing action as you complete the distance. Keep your abs braced while sprinting to protect your spine.”
30 yards of leg swings: Walk forward, and swing one leg up in front of you, touching it with the opposite hand. Repeat on the other side.
30 yards of walking lunges: Lunge forward with your right leg, and bring your right forearm down until it touches the inside of your right calf. Your left hand will be on the ground for support.
2 sets of 20 ankle hops: With knees locked, use only your ankles/calves to jump up and down in place as fast as possible.
5 sprint warmups: Build intensity from 50% through 90% of your max.
3 reps of 30- to 40-yard sprints: 95% of your max.*
Every week add one sprint, but never go beyond 95% of your maximum effort. * Rest about 60–120 seconds between sprints.