How To Perform Hill Training On Your Treadmill

Hill Training On Your TreadmillAs a runner, it is doubtful that you’ll always be running on flat surfaces. Thus, hill training is an important part of any runner’s weekly workout routine. However, bad weather or time constraints may have you running on a treadmill for your training more often than actually getting outside. Today, we will review how to perform hill training on your treadmill.

The Benefits of Hill Training

Before we dive into the how let’s stop for a moment and review the why for hill training. There are many great benefits when it comes to hill training. These include the following:

  • Enhances your running endurance
  • Boosts your leg and core functional strength
  • Increases your VO2 max (your body’s ability to utilize oxygen efficiently)
  • Increases your lactate threshold to reduce the risk of muscle cramps and side aches

Why Hill Train on a Treadmill?

When it comes to hill training on a treadmill, there are a lot of potential advantages. For example, you might live in a relatively flat area and want to boost your running tolerance to prepare for an upcoming race or route that includes hills. Plus, weather can play a huge role in the safety of hill training outside. If the weather is too hot, cold, or wet and slippery- running indoors can be a great and safe alternative.

Setting the Right Treadmill Parameters

Logically, running on the treadmill at an incline to train for hills makes sense. However, runners often get stuck on which settings are appropriate for correctly simulating running hills outdoors.

For example, how high should the incline be set, and what speed should it be set at? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t that straightforward. Rather, it’s important to start at a speed and incline that pushes your fitness level for the time you designate.

Different running coaches and professionals recommend different parameters. The key is to start where you’re comfortable and then slowly increase from there as you can tolerate it- always finding a balance of maximal effort without inducing pure exhaustion.

Here we will dive into some popular examples of treadmill parameters for starting hill training:

  • Beginner option– Shoot for a 10K running pace (approximately 45 seconds more than your best mile time) and 4% incline. Run in intervals of 2 to 3 minutes for up to 3 times.
  • Focus on interval training– Set the treadmill to a 15% incline (stand on the side rails while increasing it). Set a speed you can keep up with for 30 seconds. Alternate between 30 seconds of running or walking and 30 seconds of rest. Repeat up to 10 times or until you can’t keep your pace up anymore.
  • Using distance– Alternate between running ¼ mile at a 2 to 3% incline before returning to another ¼ mile at a 0 to 1% incline. Alternate between these two settings for as long as you would like to run. You can increase the hill incline or distance to simulate bigger hills as tolerated.
  • Treadmill settings– Some of the top smart treadmills on the market can take all of the guesswork out of hill training. Simply choose a pre-programmed workout (either with built-in programs or facilitated by an online fitness app like iFit) that will automatically adjust as you proceed with your chosen workout.

Hill Training Made Easy

Bringing hill training to the comfort of your own home or gym with hill training doesn’t need to be complicated. Consider factors that may influence how you get started, such as what races you have coming up and your fitness goals. Ultimately, hill training is an excellent asset for your running routine and general health.

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