Short Hill Sprints
These aren’t hill repeats—this is running-specific strength work. Think of it as weightlifting without the weights. A set of short hill sprints on a steep grade—six to 10 maximum-intensity efforts of 10 seconds on a roughly 8-percent incline—forces you to focus on form, and also strengthens your stabilizers and gets your glutes firing much more effectively than squatting a barbell ever will.
“All of your fast-twitch fibers get recruited during the short sprints,” says Dennis Barker, head coach of Team USA Minnesota elite running group. “It helps your overall leg strength and improves your running economy.”
Recovery is key here. Even though the sprints are short, the recovery between them shouldn’t be. Take your time between the efforts; one to two minutes is ideal.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a coach today who doesn’t employ some variation of this workout in his training programs. I’ve used short hill sprints with my own athletes as an alternative means of working on power and mechanics early in the training cycle rather than having them hit the weight room or perform plyometrics. The results speak for themselves: Form doesn’t fade as quickly, finishing speed increases, overall lower-leg strength is improved and perhaps most importantly, instances of injury decrease.