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The Hill Power Workout

This Hill Routine Builds Endurance and Teaches Lactic Acid Build-Up Tolerance

© 2010 ; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

Runners on the Kemah Bridge at the 2009 Toughest 10K; photo © KSmith Media, LLC

Running workouts designed to enhance aerobic capacity and build leg strength abound. The hill power workout laid out in this article is one of these and is easier on the knees than pounding up and down bleachers.

In Houston, and other areas in Texas, hills are few and far between. So, what’s a runner to do? Enter bridges and overpasses.

In many cases they’re better than real hills, especially if you train scientifically. Mandatory disclaimer: use your common sense because these routes are dangerous. It’s hard to compete with cars and trucks.

Conventional hill workouts do a good job of developing endurance. They also build core and leg strength. This workout adds lactic acid overload tolerance to the mix.

Basically, it is a sustained workout at a perceived effort that stays constant during the ascent portions. A heart rate monitor is always a good idea but completely optional. A good choice for this workout or pick-ups is the Polar RS100 Heart Rate Monitor and Stopwatch

This hill power workout may be described as a combination between conventional hillwork and intervals. Good examples of where to do this workout in the Houston area are the Kemah Bridge and the Fred Hartman Bridge (Baytown). Here’s the run-down (pun intended):

  1. Do a warm-up on level ground and a bit of stretching as well, if that’s your style.

  2. Start at the base of the bridge and sprint uphill for 1 minute (60 seconds). If you do it right it will feel longer, so use your watch, especially if it has a count-down timer.

  3. Come to a stop, turn around, slowly jog downhill for a half minute (30 seconds) at a recovery pace.

  4. Come to a stop, turn around, and do another sprinting interval up hill for another minute.

  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you crest the hill.

  6. Jog slowly down the other side of the bridge, either turn around or circle the base (if it is a bridge like Kemah), and do it all over again on the other side.

  7. Continue with as many repeats as you feel comfortable with and wrap it up with a cool-down run.

Be creative next time you do the workout. It’s not all about 60/30 second intervals; the runner’s level of fitness and training may dictate the intervals.

Play around with it and shake things up. A timed ladder format makes things interesting as well, especially on long bridges like the Baytown bridge. Got any interesting variations on this workout? Share them in the comment section below!

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