Build Your Strength by Hill Running

Jan 9, 2023

Have you considered hill running in your training? You definitely should!


Are you doing the same sort of runs every time you head out for training? The same route, same pace, same elevation. If so, you are limiting yourself and your potential. Of course, it’s fantastic that you have a routine and stay consistent. But you are missing out on the essential part of running, challenging yourself!

We have said it several times; strength training is undoubtedly essential to developing your running and should not be overlooked. However, for some, the words ‘strength training’ can put an image in your mind of heading to the gym and lifting weights. It can sound quite daunting for runners, and many will think it is best to just stick to what you know.

But what if we told you that you could simply run up and downhill and achieve the strength training you need that would push your performance forward?

Not only can hill running help build strength, but it also improves your running form and cardiovascular system. Essentially, you can become a stronger, faster, and healthier runner with just a couple hill training sessions a week!


How will running uphill make me a better runner?


Running uphill improves that all-important leg cycle and running technique. It encourages you to lift your feet up off the ground and get your knees up. Lifting your knee higher will mean more gravitational force is used as your foot returns to the ground. With this explosive action, you will be creating more power in your stride. As you run on an incline, you are strengthening muscles in your glutes, quads and calves. These major muscle groups will have to work harder to propel your body up the hill, and as you build strength, you will also develop your muscular endurance and efficiency.

Hill running encourages a more efficient stride, meaning you can cover more ground. Simply completing speed drills uphill as a part of your training will help increase the speed and efficiency of your runs.

Not only will running uphill make you a stronger, more powerful runner but also a fitter one. This exercise with strengthen your heart and lungs, boosting your cardiovascular fitness. With a greater demand for oxygen to your muscles when running on an incline, your heart rate will naturally rise, and you will take deeper and faster breathes. Working harder to pump blood around your body, your heart and lungs will become more efficient and stronger over time. You will build your cardiovascular endurance, allowing you to push yourself for longer and complete more intense sessions.


Should I run downhill as well? Will it damage my knees?


It can be the complete opposite! Running downhill activates stabiliser muscles around your knee, significantly improving knee extensor strength. Strengthening this essential muscle group and protecting our body’s connective tissue will help build greater resilience against injury and increase knee power.

Nevertheless, it is crucial not to overdo it and focus on your technique. For example, although leaning back can make you feel more in control when running downhill, it will place more stress on your knee. It may also feel more natural to do shorter strides, but this can also make you more susceptible to sustaining an injury.

So, keep this in mind when doing your downhill training, and build up to steeper slopes over time until you are comfortable with your technique.

Hill running is a brilliant form of resistance training and a fantastic way to combine speed work and strength training into one workout. Challenging your body this way will help you build muscular and cardiovascular endurance.

Want more super top tips to help you evolve your running performance? Look at all of our other great blogs filled with videos, exercises and great tips!

Harriet Kabe