Hill Sprints for Fast Fat Loss

great hill for running hill sprints

That picture you are looking at is a large hill at a nearby park. A few months ago we went to the park just to take a nice relaxing walk and see what the park had to offer. Well, a little way into our walk I noticed this awesome hill. I just knew some day I would use it for hill sprints.

That finally happened last Saturday.

Note: I hit a small hole about half way up the hill. ; )

I typically run hill sprints on the hill that is in my yard. It’s about 60 yards long and not quite as steep. We decided to finally run the hill at the park for a change of pace and a bigger, steeper challenge.

So, this post is about . . . you guessed it: running hill sprints for fast fat loss. They are simply one of the very best methods for losing body fat at a fast rate. (That’s why I use them as an option in the fat loss program in Beautiful Badass).

Look, if you have the luxury of training at an awesome gym that has sleds, prowlers, strong man tools, tires, sledgehammers, sandbags, ropes, and other great toys that can be used very effectively for fat loss and conditioning, then that’s great and I highly recommend you take advantage of it.

However, I train at home with power rack, barbell set, and a few other odd and end toys. Hill sprints are an excellent method for fat loss and conditioning because you don’t need any equipment. And, just so you know, the reasons I recommend hill sprints as opposed to flat ground sprints are because they are safer since you can’t reach top speed, don’t require as long of a warm-up, and they are dang effective.

And another bonus about running hill sprints for fast fat loss – you get to train outside and get some sunshine and fresh air. That’s always a good thing.

So if you want to lose some fat for the summer, then hill sprints should be your best friend. Side note: you are following smart nutrition principles, right?

There are several different ways to incorporate hills sprints into your training program:

- Perform them on your non-lifting days

- Perform them after your strength training session

- Perform them 6 or more hours before your strength training session (if you strength train in the evening)

- Perform them 6 or more hours after your strength training session (if you strength train in the morning)

How many hill sprints should you run in a single session?

Well that depends on how experienced you are and how long the hill is that you are running.

If the hill is shorter, you’ll simply perform more sprints. If the hill is longer, you won’t have to run as many. Don’t over think this part. The important thing is that you perform the hill sprints.

The most common recommendation for performing hill sprints is to perform a sprint and then rest for a designated period of time before performing another sprint. That method is fine, but I prefer to do things a little different.

Instead of the typical method, I prefer to perform a certain number of hill sprints in a specific period of time. For example, last week I ran 10 hill sprints in 14 minutes and 47 seconds. I just took rest breaks as needed between sets. For the first few sprints I didn’t need as much recovery time between sprints, but towards the end I needed more.

Yesterday I ran 10 hill sprints in 14 minutes and 10 seconds. I performed the same amount of work but in less time. Another option could have been to run 11 hill sprints in the old 14:47 time period.

Do you see what I’m saying? When it comes to hill sprints I prefer to either perform the same amount of work in less time or perform more work in the same time period.

You can always use the traditional method of resting 60 to 120 seconds between sprints, but I prefer the other way. Just do what works best for you and what you enjoy the most.

How many times a week should you perform hill sprints?

If you have never done hill sprints before, I would start off with a single session per week, and then increase to two sessions. You can perform hill sprints three times per week, but I wouldn’t do more than that.

So there you have it – a great way to lose fat fast for the summer. I could say even more about hill sprints, but I think you get the point so I’ll just end things here.

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  • http://www.fatlossdetour.com Nia Shanks

    Jon-

    Yep, I like them a lot. Hmm . . . I'll keep that in mind. i do have a 50 pound sandbag that I could use. Thanks! ; )

  • http://Website(optional) Jo

    I live in Northern Indiana. Hills are hard to come by. To do these on non-lifting days would be best for my schedule, but it's flat as a pancake at my house. Do I stick to the jump rope?

    We lived in eastern KY 14 years ago and it's so pretty!

  • http://www.howilost20lbs.com Amanda

    Question if you happen to know the answer – I have a problem with hill sprints causing pain behind one of my knees. Do you have any idea what I may be doing wrong? Is it too much too fast? Some kind of weakness?

  • http://www.fatlossdetour.com Nia Shanks

    Jo-

    Jump rope works perfectly well. You can also do suicide sprints. Those are just as tough and effective as hill sprints.

    Amanda-

    That's a very general description of what hurts, and I can't give you a direct answer. You may want to see a physical therapist or try performing an extended warmup and stretch tight muscle groups. Also you may want to perform several warmup sprints slowly increasing the intensity. If you can explain the problem in more detail I may be able to give you a better answer.

  • http://www.howilost20lbs.com Amanda

    Understandable. I don't expect any kind of PT-like diagnosis. I was just wondering if offhand this was something common enough that you might be able to suggest that “some people find x is a problem.” Usually the pain is maybe outer center, behind the knee. It takes maybe 6-8 sprints to trigger. Usually I do not feel pain at the time, but later I find my knee gets stiff and I have trouble bending it (but no swelling.) I can run and sprint fine on flat ground. My best guess is that I must have something wrong with my form.

    Anyways, sounds like its just me. :)

  • http://Website(optional) Alexandra

    I've never done hill sprints but after watching the video, I'm excited to try them. I know just the hill for them too!

    Question: what is a suicide sprint?

    Thanks.

  • http://www.fatlossdetour.com Nia Shanks

    Amanda-

    I'll get back with you on this one.

    Alexandra-

    Let me know how the hill sprints go for you! A suicide sprint is usually done on a basketball court or soccer field, or you can use cones or something else as markers. You sprint to the first line, turn around and come back to the start line, turn around and sprint to a second line further away, return to the start line, and you can repeat for however many lines you want.

    To explain it better it would look like this on a basketball court: start at base line and sprint to first free throw line, come back to base line, sprint to half court line, back to base line, sprint to second free throw line, back to base line, and sprint to last base line and return. You do this as quickly as possible. Make sense?

  • http://promakeuptips.com Erin

    Thanks for the video, I'm inspired to try them. I know the perfect hill!

  • http://www.fatlossdetour.com Nia Shanks

    Erin-

    Give them a try and let me know how it goes. ; )

  • http://www.howilost20lbs.com Amanda

    I am going to answer my own question. :) My coworker thinks that this pain could be due to tightness in my quads and IT band pulling on my tendons.

    • Laura

      Amanda – could be a tight popliteus.  It’s a very small muscle that can cause a lot of pain when running and it’s a hard muscle to stretch.  Check out this article:
      http://www.rocklandroadrunners.org/articles/JPKknees.html

      Before diagnosing it would be best to see a chiroprator that does ART or massage therapist.

      Hope this helps!

  • http://www.fatlossdetour.com Nia Shanks

    Amanda-

    Obviously something is going on. I would recommend that you see a PT so they can give you a thorough exam. Hope everything turns out alright.

  • http://Website(optional) Ian Mills

    This is for Amanda.

    I am not a PT but I had your problem for several months and was able to take care of the cause. It didnt bother me during sprinting but would ache for hours after

    I am a skeleton athlete who competes internationally. We sprint bent over to push our sleds and I work in an office chair so you can imagine the difficulties regarding a tight posterior chain.

    Your coworker was pretty close to the mark but for me, it was my lower back and glutes that were tight which caused tension in the IT band and pain in the same spot that you mentioned (behind the knee towards the outside) – pinched nerve. It took me several months to figure it out but I was able to release everything and get rid of the pain for good and I have been pain free in that area for over a year and my training intensity has increased significantly.

    It would be wise to go and get active release/myofascial release done on your lower back and glutes.

    What did it for me was putting trunk rotation into my daily hamstring stretches and worked on ankle mobility and lower leg flexibility (Peroneus Longus).

    Ian

  • http://www.howilost20lbs.com Amanda

    Great! Thanks! I figured it had to be something like that as I know I am not injured…

  • April

    Nia-

    Would hill sprints be safe to do the day after a lower body session (on a “rest” day) or would the intensity of it disrupt recovery? I can see how avoiding it the day before a lower body session could interfere, but what about the day after? Thanks

    -April

  • http://www.beautifulbadass.com Nia Shanks

    It all depends on what your training goals are. In my opinion, I say go ahead and do them.

    Your performance in the gym *may* suffer a little at first, but your body will adapt.

    Here lately I've been running sprints the days before and after lower body training without any negative effects to recovery or performance in the gym.

    Just start doing them whenever you can and assess your performance/recovery. After that you can make any necessary changes.

  • Marci

    I did 10 hill sprints today up a fairly steep hill (I've done others before but this was done on an extremely steep hill and I could only do 2). My body and legs felt so much better after this work out and I was amazed I had enough energy after the work out. I also do flat sprints once per week and decided to mix it up a bit by adding hill sprints on another day. I am a fan of hill sprints now and much prefer it to flat sprints. I feel like I can do so much more and the pounding on my legs is much less and guess what, I get the benefit of a fabulous work out for my butt, legs and just about the entire body. Hill sprints is the way to go. The only draw back is that I have to drive a little distance to get to a hill because I live on the flat. But give me hill sprints any day to other work outs. It feels so good. If you want to get your adrenaline going this is the way to go.

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  • Jeremy Belter

    Nia I like your article.  You can also go for a faster time up the hill (more speed) but someone would need to time them of course.  

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  • Lettie

    Hi. Can you explain why doing hill sprints or running generally straight after a strength workout is a bad thing? I go to the gym 5 days a week and strength train 3 days (alternate). I Like to do some cardio too on my strength days (30 mins run/ elliptical/spin) straight after. Is this not advisable?

    • sandy

      I think its because running breaks down your muscle gain.

    • JustMe

      I think high-intensity exercise, like sprints, are actually beneficial to do after your strength workout. Sprints actually release growth hormone and are anaerobic (muscle-building). So, I prefer to do them right after my bodyweight strength workouts.

  • Teri Skinner Chadwick

    Hi Nia, I’m hearing advice NOT to run hill sprints because “your quads will get bulky”. I don’t put much stock in that answer, but I thought I’d ask your thought on this. Thanks!

    • JustMe

      Teri, I think that’s silly. You seem to suspect the same based on your whole statement. If someone sees a body part getting too big, all they have to do is lighten up on working them. So, if you’re doing hill sprints 3x a week and feel like your quads are bulking up too much, cut it down to 1x or 2x a week, etc.

      • Teri Skinner Chadwick

        Makes sense. Thanks!