I’ve been a fan of hill sprints for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching athletes like Walter Payton and Marvin Hagler who were both known for brutal hill workouts. If you’ve followed this blog a while, you’ve likely seen the Walter Payton video below. If not, it is well worth a look.
I once had someone ask me what my favorite piece of equipment was and I jokingly responded by saying a steep hill. They then changed the question by asking about my favorite piece of homemade equipment. I hadn’t built any hills so I had to change my answer.
Fortunately, if I am ever asked that question again, a steep hill will be a fair response. Yesterday I took to the woods to clear an area for hill sprints. Technically I may not have built the hill, but I did enough to call it my own.
I started the morning with the image below.
By early afternoon I had a clear section for hill sprints which is approximately 50 yards long.
The incline is moderately steep at the beginning, then levels off slightly, and closes out with a steep finish.
I will soon build additional exercise stations at both the bottom and top of the hill. My immediate plans include a pull-up bar, a partially buried tire for a sledgehammer, and a climbing rope.
Now, as for why I’m sharing these additions to my gym, there are a few reasons. I’ll be the first to admit that you can do well with little or nothing in terms of equipment. Over the years, I’ve put together my share of homemade exercise equipment. I certainly don’t need a new hill to train successfully. With that said, I’m always looking for new or different ways to challenge myself and those I train. A change of scenery is often all that is necessary to spark up new interest. It is also nice to get outside and enjoy the fresh air while pushing through a challenging workout.
It’s also worth restating the obvious. I wouldn’t have bothered clearing several small trees and downed limbs if I didn’t truly value the benefits of hill sprints. I’ve run hills for many years. I’ve run long hills, short hills, and everything in between. From a conditioning standpoint, hill work is tough to beat. Yes, I already have access to several local hills, but adding another right outside my home was something I couldn’t resist.
In summary, it can be useful to spice up your workout with something that is new or different. This simple idea holds true for athletes of all levels. I’ve trained consistently for over 20 years and I’m still eager to mix things up. And lastly, if you can access a nearby hill, I strongly suggest it. Hill work may be difficult, but the benefits are impossible to deny. Whether long or short, fast or slow, regular work on the hills will benefit you significantly.
“The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.” – Vance Havner