Conquer hills

Most people know that it is important to do aerobic activity several times throughout the week for longevity and maintain a healthy weight.  But did you know that doing some type of interval is important to improve your heart health and metabolism?  Hills are a perfect interval solution and there are a dozen ways to incorporate hills into your day.

Your challenge is to climb a hill for 2 minutes.  

How to do the challenge:

  • The hill challenge can be broken up into 4-5 rounds of 20-30 second climbs, or a full 2 minute climb  
  • Remember to stretch and move for a few minutes beforehand to warm up.
  • When utilizing hills near your home-   
    • Time yourself or set yourself a target distance for which you will give honest hard effort.  On a scale from 1-10, strive to give it an 8.
    • Ideally, try to go around the block to recover.  Otherwise, simply walk down the same hill and then go up it again.  
    • When moving up the hill, focus on your arms and with your elbows bent 90 degrees, drive your elbows back as you pump your arms.  
    • If you choose to run, which is the most challenging, pick up your knees and feet exaggerating the running stride.   
  • In the gym setting –
    • Warmup on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes and slowly increase your incline to 3%.  This will give your legs and heart rate a chance to set the stage for what’s to come.
    • When you feel ready, increase your incline to 5-7% incline for 30 seconds.  Then return your incline to 3% for 90 seconds.   Repeat three more times.

The intensity of this workout that is right for you depends on your fitness level.  The best way to evaluate that is in your recovery time.  If it takes a long time for your breath and heart rate to recover, you may be overdoing it.  The more you do hills over time, the quicker your recovery time will be.

Trainer insight – Be mindful when you come down a hill.  They can be hard on those who have knee issues.  Take them slowly and give yourself this time to recover.  

Hill repeats, a form of interval training, is getting a lot of popularity as HIIT classes become more popular.  HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and includes cardiovascular exercise and can include strength training exercises as well.  The premise is that you stress the body for 20-45 seconds following by a recovery period.  This type of training has been proven to be an effective way to decrease body fat and improve your body composition. When you do interval training, the body uses up fat stores and insulin both of which are culprits to weight gain. (see page 3).  


Other benefits to consider:

  • Interval walking has also shown dramatic improvements with those who have Type II Diabetes –
  • Hill training improves cardiovascular fitness. Sounds boring..but it is super cool and important.  Basically you can do more  and feel better.  You won’t get tired as fast.  If you like running or biking, this means you get faster!!
  • For those who are training for a 5K or half marathon or longer, hills help improve your form which ultimately makes you more efficient.  The hills force you to exaggerate your running stride both with your arms and legs.
  • Mentally hills are a great way to improve your mental focus and strength.  Stay positive as you hit the hills and have a positive affirmation at hand such as “yes I can, yes I will!” After you do a hill workout, you can do anything!
Cynthia Miranda

About Cynthia Miranda

Cynthia Miranda has been in the fitness industry over 20 years including a degree in Sports Medicine, certifications with spinning, yoga, TRX, CrossFit and even Zumba! She has worked and is working with clients with all different levels of health & fitness from cardiac rehab patients to athletes to workaholics. Cynthia is an avid mountain biker and loves to be outside hiking and camping when she can. She is a mother of three girls ranging from 9 to 16.

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Did you incorporate hills in your day today?

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