Hill Sprint Training

One of the Greatest Exercises…Period!

I’ve done hill sprints off and on many times over the years and I can say without a doubt they are one of my favorite exercises. This is because they give you some outstanding benefits.

  • Build Muscle
  • Shed Fat
  • Make You Faster and More Explosive
  • They’re even Safer than flat land sprints
  • Trigger the Release of Human Growth Hormone
  • Take Far Less Time than Long Slow Distance Running

How to Get Started with Hill Sprinting

Let me start by saying how to do hill sprints. First, if you haven’t done any sort of running recently you don’t want to jump in and start sprinting all out. If you are in shape, do at least one session jogging or running the hills, but not going all out.

For those, not in great shape already, jogging may be all you can muster. Even for sedentary folks just walking the hill may be optimal.

Keep in mind why easing into this intense exercise is important. For one, you’ll be less sore the next day, but also you will dramatically lessen the chances of injury.

Also you should warmup before sprinting. I don’t recommend any static stretching. Instead just do a short jog. For me all it takes is jogging to the hill to begin my sprints.

How to do Hill Sprints

What sort of hill should you use? Virtually any level of incline will work. Obviously, the steeper the hill the harder the exercise will be. If you have no nearby hills, steps can be a valid substitute, though I must say I don’t like stairs as much.

What is important is length. I find the optimal length is whatever you can sprint in about 30 seconds. Go longer and you won’t be sprinting all out. Shorter and you don’t have enough time to even run out of breath. If you have a large hill you can always just run a portion of it.

In all your training you must keep it progressive. This way you know you are doing better. For this reason you should run the same length every time. Have a starting and a finish line. And time yourself for each one. Race yourself trying to beat your best time each and every time. It is satisfying to see over the course of a couple weeks how what took you 30 seconds before now only takes you 27. In this video you can see an example of this in action. You’ll notice me starting and stopping my watch to time.

Conditioning and Mental Toughness

Hill sprints are one of the best conditioning exercises. For every single step you want to force yourself to go faster. This gets you out of breath quick. With many other conditioning exercises (like bodyweight squats or kettlebell swings) there is time in the move to relax. Even going at a fast pace its really not all out like hill sprints can be at every moment. With a steep hill you will get out of breath fast. The steeper the hill the more true this becomes. That’s what makes this one of the best exercises.

In addition hill sprints build mental toughness. With each step your CAN go a little faster. When your lungs are burning and your legs are about to collapse you can keep going and you can go faster. But its hard. You can force yourself to do it…and that takes toughness. The fact is you can always push yourself a little bit harder. Just a tiny bit faster. This is why hill sprints are in my opinion one of the best ways to build this trait.

How to do a Hill Sprint Workout

I find the four to eight sprints is enough for the workout. This will depend on if you do any other training, especially leg training activities.

After you finish the sprint walk down to the bottom and start again. Your only rest is in the walk down. (In the beginning you may need more than this. As you advance you may be able to jog down then sprint once again.)

You know you are in condition when your last sprint is not more than a second or two in time off of the first. But when you’re starting out don’t be surprised to find yourself taking five to eight seconds longer on that last sprint.

Doing hill sprints one or two times a week will make you tougher, better conditioned, stronger, and faster. Well worth the effort.

Want more information on hill sprints and other exercises? Grab my book The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Conditioning.


  1. Thanks for this. I have been interested in beginning to incorporate hill sprints into my routine and this article had a lot of the details I was looking for.

      1. Is running hill sprints 3 times a week doing to much. I started like three weeks ago running on monday wednesdady and friday. When i run i am sore from the last session. SHould i cut bac?. I dont do any other type of training.

  2. Thanks a lot. I´ve recently incorporated barefeet hill sprints on beach soft sand, kind of 60 yards dash, after 2 miles hiking on shore line sand allowing the waves reaching my ankles, fast mode.
    If no better, different to leg training day in gym and sort of challenge!

  3. Great article, I just started hill sprints 2 weeks, and I feel like a new man. Definitely tough but the feeling you get when your done is worth it. Good luck to everyone out there with a hill in front of them…….

  4. Thanks for the great article. I have just started training after a 3 year lay-off. I have lost 9lbs in the last week by doing 10 x 20 yard hill sprints each morning, using the walk down as my resting period. I then walk home (about 400m) and complete a 4 minute high intensity Tabata session. I can feel my chest, shoulders and arms tightening and my physique is already starting to change so i am absolutely hooked. To give you a idea of my physique, i’m 26 yrs old, 6’2″ and 260 lbs. When i was fit i was 218lbs as i hold quite a lot of muscle. Thanks and good luck to everyone

  5. Just came across the site this afternoon after I went out for lunch jogging– I found a hill and did 8 x150 yard sprints– and it was awesome. So I come back and goole this to see the benefits! — very nice. I am 61 and in excellent shape–have been doing HIIT on the treadmill 2-3 times a week–but with the weather in the 60’s here in Tennessee, getting out on a hill and burning it is fantastic.

    Thanks for the encouragement…

    1. @Pastor Dave: Yes it truly is one of the best exercises out there. I’m just about to add them regularly to my routine once again. The treadmill can be used effectively but nothings as good as what can be done in a more natural environment.

  6. i have been doing hill sprints for the last 3 weeks and i find myself in a better shape than i ever have been in my life, i have been running and playing football all my life but was beginning to run too far and found myself losing too much weight in my legs for football, so i decided to incorporate this routine to help with the whole fast twitch/slow twitch saga(i am still playing football):

    wed – 1.jog 1.5 miles to the hill
    2.on a hill of 10 deg.. 5xcontinuous sprints..jogging on the way back down… then stop….shattered.
    3.continuos sprints, walking on the way down…(as many as i can, manage around 6 at the moment
    4.5xcontinuous sprints..jogging on the way back down… then stop….shattered even more.

  7. pucker, ive just started, cant wait for a few weeks to pass, loved reading this, sweet mate

  8. Hey Logan, i was just browsing the web for some encouragement to work out and i came across youre page , Thank you for posting this .. But i was wondering if this will work to built musle in my glutes im not really looking to lose weight , i just want to tone and make my legs and glutes bigger .. any suggestions>?

    1. Author

      @Ms Murray: Hill sprints could definitely aid in building muscle in the glutes. However, I don’t think there’s anything better then back squats for that purpose. Try doing both.

  9. Hey man, I’m recovering from a serious knee injury and I am trying to build myself up to my ore-injury state, where I was pretty fast and fit, played soccer weekly and had good speed. I tried doing hill sprints today and afterwards felt like I was going to die. I made some basic mistakes, which I believe could have been very dangerous.

    1. I had a meal too soon before the workout. Should have ate lighter and left at least 2 hours before training.
    2. I was not hydrated enough, I should have drank an extra 300ml more than I did, with some Salt.
    3. I may have over exerted for my first hill sprinting attempt but this did not become apparent until too late.
    4. Sudden declaration at the top of the hill, an abrupt halt may have caused problems when coming from high intensity to zero.

    I did 4 x 70 m sprints, pretty flat out up a very steep concrete road, like I said after the 4th attempt I was in serious trouble, plus I was in a secluded wooded area with no traffic or people. When I reached the top after my 4th sprint, I stopped, felt nauseous, faint and was close to vomiting, I sat on the floor and tried to control my breathing, realising I was close to passing out, I started to panic, which made my situation worse, I laid on my side and breathed deeply, slowly I recovered and I can tell the tale.

    I consider myself quite fit, I can play 60 mins soccer 5 a side high speed, but hill sprinting really was a killer, the problem is the point of exhaustion is so fine and sudden it’s difficult to tell, one minute your okay, then the next you could be lying on the floor struggling to remain conscious.
    Proceed with caution, on this exercise, and please take note of the mistakes I made.

  10. Great post! Being high intensity workouts, hill sprints show a marked improvement in your speed, energy levels and body composition. They help strengthen the ankles which makes you faster and get your body to expend more calories than you would in a flat surface run. They add resistance to your workout, helping you overcome inertia and achieve full speed faster. This makes hill sprints the ultimate way to become lean, fast and strong. Read about the correct mechanics of hill sprinting to help enhance your performance and give you a great workout. https://lovefitnesseducation.com/2012/07/12/hill-sprints-the-best-high-intensity-workouts-to-become-lean-fast-and-strong/

  11. I’m an old mid-distance runner from the 60’s. At the age of 66 I still train the Igloi way. However, years ago I developed a fondness for hill sprinting and would include a set of hill sprints into my multi-set, multi-pace and continuous interval running and with very good results. During the fall and winter build up I devoted three days a week to exclusive hill training on nonconsecutive days. The hill I ran on was about a 10% grade and aproximately 100m long. I would do 25 to 50 repeats on that hill at what I refer to as FRESH(50-60%) and GOOD(70%) effort and never faster. I would run 4 repeats at fresh tempo and 1 at good tempo and then repeat. I would jog down hill for recovery which kept my heart rate up. All of my age group times improved from 400m through 10000m. But the frosting on the cake was a very muscular set of legs which I had not expected due to the extensive amount of endurance running I was doing at that time which was about 2hrs daily of continuous work.

    1. @Bruce Tharp: Great to hear another success story on how hill sprints can be used for improving not just sprinting speed by longer distances too. Thanks for sharing.

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