Fitness Friday – Thrills With Hills!

Happy Friday everyone!

This week’s workout has it all: Burn a ton of calories, improve your aerobic capacity, rev up your metabolism and do it all without boredom – I’m talking about hill repeats!

Hill repeats are a great workout because anyone fit enough to exercise at a moderate intensity can do them. You can walk, run, bike, skate, ski or snowshoe. It’s also the easiest way to add intervals into a cardio workout – all you need to do is find a hill! Your workout can last fifteen minutes or an hour; your effort level can range from moderately low to very intense.

You’ll want to start with a warm up, of course.  I recommend five minutes of  whatever activity you’re doing that starts out easy and slow, and progresses to moderately fast. By the time you hit the bottom of the hill for the first time, you want your muscles to be warmed up and your blood to be pumping somewhat vigorously. Once you’re ready to start, follow these guidelines to get a great workout:

1. Find a Good Hill – When you’re just starting out, choose a hill that’s not too steep, and that you can ascend in 30 – 90 seconds.

2. Take Your Time Coming Down – It should take you the same amount of time to descend the hill as it does to climb it.  This means you’ll be coming back down the hill at what feels like an easy, slow pace, which should give you time to recover from the work you just did to get up.

3.  Focus on form – This is especially important as you descend if you are walking or jogging. Coming downhill on foot can place a lot of stress on the knees and spine if you aren’t careful about controlling your momentum and absorbing the impact with your muscles rather than your joints.

4. Pace Yourself – Try to make all of your climbs in roughly the same amount of time.  This means that you’ll need to hold back a bit in the beginning and really push yourself on the last one or two hill climbs.

5. Don’t Over-do It – Start slow and easy, and challenge yourself as your fitness level improves. A good plan for your first time out is to warm up for five minutes, do five round-trip hill repeats on a not-too-steep hill that you can negotiate in 30 to 60 seconds, then cool down for 5 minutes.  This will give you 15 to 20 minutes of total activity and it’ll really get your heart pumping and your muscles working. Progress by adding one or two more repeats each week, by picking a steeper or longer hill, or by trying to get to the top faster.

One of the best things about hill repeats is that the time flies by. When you’re breaking your activity into those small bits of time, it can seem like you just got started when you’re already on your fifth repeat. Also, it’s easy to focus and get the most from your workout when the hard “work” interval only lasts for a short time.

Thinking about this workout makes me want to get outside and do it. Maybe I’ll see you out there, too!

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