Downhill training… without access to big hills

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  • #31388

    I’m looking for ideas on how to train for big stretches of downhill hiking/running without access to a lot of hills or tall buildings (to use stairs). Is there any gym machine work or other ideas for working the downhill-specific muscles in the absence of training on actual hills?

    I’m doing Grand Canyon R2R2R for the second time next spring and it was the miles and miles of downhill that was most painful. From the north rim down it’s like 16 miles straight of steep or gentle decline.

    Thanks! -Ben

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    Anonymous on #31389

    The eccentric loading from downhill running is definitely harder to get without hills or stairs available, but one gym trick you can do is when doing box step ups, you can step all the way onto the box and then drop down in front. Start with a shorter box or step, so you don’t go into deep hip flexion, then gradually increase the height of the step. The muscular endurance strength workout is also great for working the specific muscle fibers you’ll need for downhill running. One modification I’ll sometimes give athletes is to stay a little more upright (same principle of keeping good hip extension and using the core more than going into a deep squat) and not go quite so deep into the range of motion. That will also keep your tempo up so that it’s more like running with a high cadence. Adding some simple quick single leg hops down stairs is also great for proprioception and neuromuscular training. Good luck!

    matthewsbc on #31391

    Great ideas Alison, thanks! Do you have any recommendations for this kind of box workout? Does 30-60 minutes of continuous step-up, step-down, turn-around, repeat – make sense to add into my workout plan? Or possibly as a substitute for the same timeframe stair climber occasionally?

    briguy on #46808

    I did R2R2R in 2014, great experience.

    I didn’t know this then, but I’ve since learned that the UA ME program is VERY good at “inoculating” the legs against the kind of abuse downhill running brings. if you can time it such that you execute the full ME program prior to your taper, you’ll be well served by the work you put in.

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