Strength Building Hill Training Workouts

By Rick Morris

Strength training is an important part of any runner’s training program. Strength training will improve your power, speed, running economy and make you a more injury resistant runner. The big problem is most runners don’t want to spend time with strength training, they would much rather use all of their training time with their favorite activity – running!

If you belong to that group all is not lost. You can still get some high quality strength training during your run. Here are some intense and challenging hill runs that will combine the advantages of your daily run with a strength training routine. Some of these strength building hill training workouts require hills of a specific grade and length. If you can’t find an appropriate hill you can always do them on your treadmill.

30/60 Hill Blasters

These intense hill sprint runs will do wonders for your running power and your running economy as well as boosting both your VO2 max and your lactate threshold.

  • Description:  Run  10 to 20 repeats of 30 second sprints up a steep hill of 10% to 15% elevation. Run at the fastest pace you can maintain for the repeat.  For your first attempt at this hill workout do 10 repetitions and gradually build up your number of reps as you get stronger and fitter.
  • Pace:  The fastest pace you can maintain on each work repeats
  • Recovery: Recover between each hill repeat jogging back to the bottom of the hill in 60 seconds. Then begin your next 30 second hill sprint. If you do this one on a treadmill run easily at zero elevation for 60 seconds between each hill sprint.

3 x 1600/800/400 Meter Compound Hill Run

Here is a compound hill set that is primarily for building your strength and power but will also increase your lactate turn point.

  • Description: Find a moderately steep hill of 8% to 10% incline or run on your treadmill at 8% incline. After a warm up run 1600 meters at 10K pace. Then speed up to 5K pace for 800 meters and finish with 400 meters at 800 meter pace. Take no recovery between the distances. Repeat 3 times.
  • Pace: The 1600 meters at 10K pace, 800 meters at 5K pace and 400 meters at 800 meter pace.
  • Recovery: Take no recovery within each set. Recover between each set with 2 minutes of rest.

The Hill Climb

Here is a strength building hill climb that will leave your leg muscles screaming for mercy. Because of the frequent changes in incline you will probably need to do this one on your treadmill.

  • Description: A 6 mile hill climb of increasing inclines. Run at the lower end of your tempo pace or about 30 seconds per mile slower than your 10K pace. Begin your hill climb at 1% incline. Increase the incline of your treadmill by 1% every quarter mile or 400 meters. Once you reach the maximum incline of your treadmill begin to lower the incline by 1% every quarter mile or 400 meters.
  • Pace: Lower end of tempo pace or about 30 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace.
  • Recovery: None

Hill Strength Long Run

Take your long run to the hills with this progressive hill training run. You will probably need to perform this workout on your treadmill because of the incline changes.

  • Description: Run a series of three hills of increasing incline. Run at your endurance pace. Begin by running 4 miles up a hill of about 5% incline. Now run 2 miles at zero elevation. Next run 3 miles at 8% incline followed by 2 miles at zero elevation. Finish this 12 mile workout with 1 mile at 10% incline.
  • Pace: Endurance pace
  • Recovery: None