Alternative to Hill Sprints

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  • #32412

    I’ve been trying hill sprints, and sadly, they are way too easy. My assumption, based on the reading, is that I’m pure slow twitch. I’d like to keep doing these but my hills will be covered in un-sprintable snow and ice. What could I use as an alternative? Aren’t these sprints just another form of plyometrics? How about a gym-based workout involving weighted split jump squats and squat jumps at ~10 seconds with long rest periods? I’d really like to see if I actually have fast-twitch fibers! Thanks.


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    Anonymous on #32418

    Hi Sweeler,

    Sounds like hill sprints can serve you really well given your experience with them. They serve predominantly as a neuromuscular exercise, in a couple fashions. First, as a technique reinforcement: both the terrain (steep) and effort (maximal) demand that you be quite dynamic with your movement, and that tends to put you into a forward leaning, powerful position which supports good running form. Using your posterior chain muscles to propel the movement by driving through with your stride is another positive aspect of these.

    Second, these serve in a similar manner to max strength in the gym – the load is very high but short-lived, so you don’t develop much fatigue via glycolytic pathways. It’s not unlikely that you sense of them being “easy” stems from not having those bundles of motor units recruited and trained for the output required – hence, the more you can do these, the better!

    Even with some snow on the ground these can still go: pack out your hill for a few laps as your warmup (low intensity) to create better footing, and use Alison’s strategy of screwing 1/4″ sheet metal screws into the tread of your shoes to improve traction. Alternatively, you can use stairs indoors; while not as specific for running form, they still initiate the muscle recruitment and high tempo, both of which are preferable for this activity over a jumping workout in the gym, which tends toward muscular endurance.

    Hope that helps,

    Anonymous on #32479


    I concur with Sam’s take. You should try to find away to integrate these into your plan if at all possible. We place such a high emphasis on these because they pay a huge dividend for the time spent. Here are a few work arounds thatI have used with different folks over the years:

    1) Outdoor stairs work great but indoor fire stairs can be a great place to do these our of the weather.

    2) If you do not have access to a STEEP hill (20+%) then drag a tire (preferable) or wear a weigh vest (less desirable on a gradual hill but better for very steep terrain. Note the pick of Steve doing just this workout at Smith Rock, OR on page 231 of TftNA.

    3) Get creative: David Goettler uses the ski jump stairs on the 50m jump in Chamonix, France. Look for high way overpass dirk embankments.

    I hope this helps.

    depeyster on #32805

    I’ve always been a Hillsound fan myself. And today published a

    detailed comparison.

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