Strong, sleek legs power you ever higher.
There's no way you can go wrong with uphill sprinting. Of course, your legs get toned, but so much more happens, and all of it is beneficial for your fitness. Hill sprints also increase cardiovascular endurance training and blast away fat. They even force you into perfect sprint form, making you land nicely on your forefoot instead of your heel. So, find a hill and begin thundering up.
The Necessary Ingredients
Look for a nice steady slope of 8 to 10 degrees. Stadium stairs can fill in if you are in Florida or Texas, or somewhere else mostly flat. An overall length of 100 yards, the size of a football field, works well. Warm up for five to 10 minutes with calisthenics and dynamic stretches such as high kicks, jumping jacks and squats.
Building Up Each Week
If you are looking for high-level conditioning as well as toned legs, you can follow the regimen provided by the authors of вЂњHigh-Performance Sports Conditioning.вЂќ They recommend starting your first week with two sets of three to five reps of 15-yard uphill sprints, at 75 percent of your maximum speed. For Week 2, increase the distance to 20 yards and go for your maximum speed. Each week, increase your distance and reps until by Week 6, you can perform at least three sets of seven reps of 60 yards. Continue to try to improve your distance each week.
No Pain, No Gain
Curt Pedersen of Stayfitcentral.com describes losing 10 pounds of fat in a few weeks of running hills without changing how he eats. He suggests a similar program, by starting with five sprints at 75 percent your first time out. Add one or two sprints per week, until you can get to 20 per workout. Start with two workouts weekly and work up to four to five a week. He also advises keeping your knees high as you run, your chin up and pushing off the balls of your feet. Hill sprints can be painful, he acknowledges, but in addition to toning your legs, they bring mental toughness.
Variations for Strength
Famed running coach Eric Orton worked with вЂњBorn to RunвЂќ author Chris McDougall to allow him to correct nagging injuries so he could become an ultra-marathoner. Orton put McDougall through hill sprints over an eight-week training period to build his leg strength. Orton recommends regular hill sprints with high knees to improve your entire run gait. Perform a variation with your hands behind your neck to remind you to raise your knees higher and to engage your core as well.