Build Your Hill Strength - Women's Running

Build your hill strength

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  July 15, 2015

Do you find your race times dragged down by gut-busting inclines? It’s time to stop those hills dragging you down any longer and boost your hill-running stamina! Here are five simple strengthening exercises, focusing on key muscle groups required for running uphill, which will maximise your hill-running performance. Try three sets of 10 to 15 reps at least twice a week.

Leaps
Areas trained: thighs, bottom (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes)

Why do it?
Leaps require a lot of strength and coordination; two things which are vital when running uphill.

Technique:
■ Run a few steps
■ Plant your foot securely and bend your knee
■ The more your knee bends, the higher and bigger your leap will be
■ On landing, bend your knee and leap with the other leg
■ Do eight to ten leaps continuously

Safety tip:
Always look up, not down at your feet.

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Walking lunges with bum kicks
Areas trained: thighs, bottom (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes)

Why do it?
This is a great exercise to get your hamstrings activated, which will help with maximum contractions during hill runs.

Technique:
■ Stand with your feet together
■ Step forward with your right leg and bend both knees to perform a lunge
■ As you lift up, push off with your left leg
■ Use the momentum to flick your left heel up to your bottom
■ Bring your left leg forwards and place it on the floor
■ Repeat the lunge with a bum kick with your right leg
■ Alternate between left and right

Safety tip:
Keep your back upright and look forward, with your core muscles tightened.

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Incline mountain climber
Areas trained: shoulders, arms, hip flexors and core (deltoids, rhomboids, biceps, triceps, psoas muscles, transversus abdominus)

Running uphill requires you to lift your knees and drive backwards with your arms while keeping your core contracted. This exercise is great for teaching these muscles to work together.

Technique:
■ Place your hands shoulder-width apart on
a step
■ Keep your body in a straight line
■ Bring your right knee in towards your right elbow
■ Return your right leg and repeat on the left
■ Alternate between right and left

Safety tip:
Don’t let your lower back arch.

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Squats with calf raises
Areas trained: thighs, bottom, calves (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, gastrocnemius)

Strengthening your thighs and calves is very important to ensure maximum performance when your running up and down hills.

Technique:
■ Stand with your feet hip-width apart and turn your toes out slightly
■ Keep your back straight and your core muscles tight
■ Bend your knees and lower your bottom to perform a squat
■ Hold the bottom position
■ Lift your heels off the floor to perform a calf raise
■ Lower your heels
■ Straighten your legs back to the standing position

Safety tip:
Hold on to something secure if you struggle with balancing.

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Straight-arm plank row
Areas trained: core muscles, upper back (transversus abdominus, rhomboids)

Why do it?
A strong core is very important to keep a good uphill running rhythm.

Technique:
■ Place your left hand on the floor and hold a weight in your right hand
■ Lift your knees off the floor to keep a straight line between your shoulders, hips and feet
■ Pull the weight up to your armpit while twisting your body
■ Slowly return the weight to the floor, but don’t rest
■ Complete one set before switching sides

Safety tip:
If you find this exercise too hard, keep your knees on the floor in a kneeling plank position.

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