Hill training is ideal for athletes who rely on speed, particularly in sports such as football, soccer and baseball. But it’s also a superb method for improving your personal fitness level. Hill training has the capacity to effectively help you increase your speed. The best hill exercises are those that are explosive and that you carry out over short distances.
Hill training introduces a key element necessary to improve your speed: performance overload. Performance overload is the act of increasing the level of stress that you place on your muscles while performing an activity. According to the University of Texas, you can best accomplish performance overload by increasing exercise volume and intensity. As you overload your body, you force your muscles to develop a greater capacity to perform that exercise. You can increase your speed by boosting the overload as your muscles get stronger.
Uphill Drills for Acceleration
Improve your acceleration by performing uphill drills. Choose a hill that has an incline of 10 to 15 degrees with a maximum distance of 30 to 60 meters. Sprint up the hill for 30 to 40 meters at 90 to 100 percent of your maximum capacity. Walk down the hill slowly. After reaching the bottom, continue your recovery for a total of 90 to 120 seconds. Repeat this exercise six times.
Maximize Your Top-End Speed
Your top-end speed is the maximum speed you are able to reach when running at 100 percent capacity. Downhill training increases your stride frequency resulting in increased top-end speed. Locate a hill with an incline of no more than 10 to15 degrees. Sprint down the hill at 95 to 100 percent of your maximum capacity for a distance of 60 to 80 meters. Use your walk back up the hill as your 90- to 120-second recovery period. Complete six to eight sprints.
Bounding for Explosiveness
Uphill bounding will help you to improve your explosiveness, allowing you to increase your ability to generate forward momentum from a fixed position. Use a hill with a 6- to 7-degree incline. Extend your lead foot as if you are beginning to sprint up the hill, but instead of taking a normal stride, explode into the hill, driving your lead foot into the ground and exploding into a leap. As you drive your lead foot into the ground, bring your alternate knee up high, preparing to strike the ground with this foot. Perform 10 repetitions with each leg. Complete a total of six sets.
Consult your physician before changing your workout. Your doctor will have valuable insight on any particular limitations or potential risks. Limit your hill workout to once per week, allowing your body sufficient time to recover. As your capacity to perform at a higher level increases, increase your volume and distance by 10 percent.