By: Nicole Boger On: April 17, 2018 In: Education Comments: 0

Are you making these “Hilly” mistakes?


Here in South Florida, there’s a good chance that you are using an overpass bridge to replicate biking or running on hilly terrain. But are you doing these hill repeats correctly?


Here are the top 3 reasons why and how you should include hill work into your training:


  • If you are a newer or dramatically overweight athlete: Use bridges to improve cardiovascular endurance yet limit the rate of injury. Prepping the muscles, ligaments, bones and tendons can take months or even years to truly push a hard effort without dramatically increasing rate of injury. However, the cardiovascular system is often ready for a harder challenge just a few weeks after starting a new fitness program. In this case, brisk walking or easy bike riding up a bridge will elicit the aerobic response, without increasing the rate of injury. If you do try and run bridges during this stage, you’ll find yourself slowly plodding up the bridge, completely out of breath, most likely hunched over and with horrible run form. That is NOT what you want to be doing. Stick to the brisk walking, or easy riding and gradually allow the rest of your body to catch up to your improved cardiovascular fitness level.


  • To simulate race day. If you have a hilly race course, use hills to learn how your body mechanics will change going up/down the hills, to feel the change in the muscles being used, to learn how to change gearing on a bike, and to be comfortable knowing you can truly tackle the hills. When using hills this way, you would bike/run them just like you would on race day, ideally on a very similar course. Note: This is not for fitness. These sessions are for confidence that you can handle hills on race day and to learn what to expect from your body during changing terrain. These are best done with intermediate athletes.


  • To gain power. This is the BEST reason to use hill training. However, it’s done a very specific way and only with the more advanced athlete who has not shown to be injury prone, or dramatically overweight. To use hills for power, select a hill to run up for 10-30 seconds at a 4%-10% grade (the lower end is for starting out, the higher end is the progression as you become more advanced), once you reach your end point, walk back down the hill and fully recover before starting the next interval. Each interval is run hard and fast, actively engaging your glutes and hamstrings. Break the interval session up as follows 10 minutes warm up easy run, one set of intervals such as 3 x (20 seconds run, with a 2 min walk recovery), 10 minutes easy on the flats focusing on a cadence and turnover (you’ll be fast!), then a second set of intervals similar to your first set, then finish it with an easy 5-10 minutes on the flats. These sessions are short, fast, and at a hard workload. Be sure to allow proper recovery later that day and during the following training session.


No more plodding up and down the bridges! Be smart with your training sessions and set yourself up for future success. If you love bridges, leave us some comments or reach out to us at Info@TeamSoulSports.com.

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