Why run hills on a treadmill?

Monday November 3, 2014

Running on a treadmill versus the road is shown to be easier on your joints.  However, how many of us use the incline feature to gain more from our workout?  The University of Georgia found that an increase of about 9 % muscle per stride occurs when running on an incline at the same intensity as compared to the when running on level ground.  Additionally, English researchers showed that it takes a 1% incline to use the same amount of energy as if running on an outdoor track.  So, if you want to improve your fitness and burn a few more calories, this type of workout is a no brainer. While it is true that running hills is more strenuous, which increases your risk of injury,  the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (MSSE) found that increasing the incline by as little as 3 degrees reduces joint shock in the knees by 24 %.

There are good points listed above, so now how can we incorporate hills into a workout? It’s easy! Include a warm up of 5-10 minutes at a comfortable pace, building into a pace that is comfortable to maintain for climbing hills.  For 1minute, increase the incline anywhere from 2-8% then return to 0-1% for 2 minutes.  Repeat this 3-6 times and finish the workout with a cool down at a walk or easy jog for 5 minutes.  When this becomes easier, run at an incline 2-8% for 2 minutes, then 1 minute at 0-1%.

Use this hill workout to keep your cardio interesting and challenging by replacing it with one of your usual cardio workouts during the week.

Written by: Monette Williams, CPT, USAT level II coach