How can you increase your cardio?
Seems like a bit of broad question. However its one that I have been asked quite a lot recently.
Not that I'm considered an expert but I have some experience under my belt.
Now theres lots of ways to actually do a cardio work out from HIIT, skipping, sprints etc the list goes on.
But in reality theres nothing quite like hill training to improve your cardio ability.
Heres some reasons why it helps so much:
1. Speed, stamina and strength
So let's set something straight not only does running up a hill increase your stamina but yes, it also improves your speed and overall leg strength.
Let's elaborate a little bit.
When you hill run it demands more from the body by putting more muscles to work and harder work than running on the flat. Putting these extra muscles into work and working them harder challenges them. Which in turn makes the flats seem like less of a task next time it comes to running on them.
The harder work strengthens the muscles which increases overall movement speed.
2. Going down hill helps too
So you've finished your hill reps, but why didn't you just choose one big hill and run to the top then run home?
We'll the reason being is that on the way down from each hill rep builds on your quads.
Having rests between your hill reps means that when you turn back around to power your way back up to the top you can keep that good cadence and spring off with every step so your not loosing any stored energy.
3. Avoiding injury
During a hilly run you're actually less susceptible to injury. When you run up hill it moves you on to your toes adding an extra pivot into the movement absorbing impact as you push back off to go up the hill.
Running flat on the other hand has been shown to be more likely to cause injury form reoccurring pressure, especially if you're not wearing the right shoes (read our blog on picking the right shoes here).
So those are the benefits of hill running which intern improve your cardio, asides from this there are other benefits such as greater calorie burn. But just so you can make the most of your hill reps next time you head out make sure you follow the below tips:
1.Choose your hill wisely
You want a hill thats steep sure, but not too steep. Studies have shown that anything too steep its actually better to walk in terms of efficiency. This means you'll be able to use the right kinds of muscles to get the most out of your reps.
2. Keep it quick
You want to keep it short, 10-30 second intervals so your reaching max intensity while keeping your cadence up. Spring back up with every step.
3.Don't lean forward
The same as you don't want to on a flat run, you'll over extend your hip flexors and cause your self injury. Keep your head up high and spring up that hill.
4.Move those arms!
Like a sprinter you'll need momentum, this means engaging all your body to keep your legs moving too.
5.Watch where you run
On hill's and down hills its important to watch your footing. If you've gone off road to find a good hill just watch out for loose rocks and stones as the last thing you need is an injury!
Good luck on your next run, keep it hilly!
Thanks for reading!