Treadmill Hill Workouts

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Running hill workouts on a treadmill can be a good way to maximize the benefits of hill training whilst reducing the risk of injury associated with hill running. Treadmill hill workouts can be particulalry useful to runners who are prone to injuries following hill training – particularly if you suffer with knee problems.

Even if you are not prone to impact related injuries it is worth considering using treadmills to perform the occasional hill session, just for the change and to give your legs a break from the continual pounding that occurs with hill training – particularly when running hill repetitions on the road. In addition they give you a far more precise way to control training intensity.

Benefits of treadmill hill training

Aside from the reduced impact, compared with on road hill training, there are a number of other benefits to running hill intervals on the treadmill. Firstly you can precisely control the speed and gradient of the efforts ensuring that you train within your target zone. Secondly you can carefully control the speed and gradient of recoveries – you can eliminate the downhill section of hill running, and therefore remove the problem of lengthy recoveries that are often the plague of on-road hill training sessions. The removal of the lengthy down hill recovery phases allow you to utilise shorter recovery periods which increases the average intensity of the workout making it more specific to long distance runners.

In addition to the benefits described above treadmill hill intervals will help to improve muscular strength/endurance,running economy, fatigue resistance, aerobic and anaerobic metabolism.

Treadmill hill training workouts

The following are example treadmill hill running workouts for 5k, 10k, and 1/2 marathon pace hill workouts. For the purposes of these examples – and what I would generally use for treadmill hill intervals – I have used work to rest ratios of 3:2, 3:1, and 4:1 for the 5k, 10k, and 1/2 marathon pace hill workouts respectively.

Example 5k pace treadmill hill training workout

Uphill efforts 10-12 x 60 seconds @ 5k pace on a moderate gradient (4-5%), with 40 second recoveries run at 0% gradient @ approximately 70% of 5k speed

Example 10k pace treadmill hill training workout

Uphill efforts 6 x 3 minutes @ 10k pace on a moderate gradient (4-5%), with 60 second recoveries run at 0% gradient @ approximately 80% of 10k pace

Example half Marathon pace treadmill hill training workout

Uphill efforts 4 x 6 minutes @ 1/2 Marathon pace on a moderate gradient (4-5%), with 90 second recoveries run at 0% gradient @ approximately 90% of 1/2 Marathon Pace

Treadmill hill workouts summary

  • Running hill workouts on a treadmill can be a good way to reduce impact damage – in particularly due to the elimination of the need for a down hill part of the interval
  • There is a much greater control of speed, gradient and recovery whilst running hills on treadmills – this allows you to maximize the training session and gain the greatest benefits from the workout.
  • As with other types of hill training it can lead to improved muscular strength/endurance, running economy, fatigue resistance, aerobic and anaerobic metabolism.