Looking for the ultimate functional leg strength and endurance workout?
Want to improve your neuromuscular control to have increased athleticism and improved balance?
Look no further than a steep hill.
When walking up a hill, you are forced to work your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, and feet to a much higher degree than if walking on flat terrain.
Once you switch directions and go down a hill, you will engage the quadriceps and hip flexors in a way you never would on flat terrain.
Want to really smoke the quads and hip flexors, try walking uphill backwards. This is an amazing exercise to train the “shock absorbers” needed for running.
Looking to hit the glutes and groin muscles, try doing some side stepping or even just going up and down in a zig zag pattern as if making an S shape.
Hill walking stretches the calves and will force your ankle to new ranges of motion, increasing both flexibility and strength at the ankle joint.
When walking, it is a low impact workout that will push your strength and cardio limits.
Make it a real challenge by throwing some weight on your back by using a weighted vest or back pack. I have a 50lb bag of play sand, wrapped in a pillow case and placed inside a back pack. Using this weighted back pack, I find walking up and down hills a tremendous challenge.
The benefit of walking against resistance is that it “functionally” challenges the muscles needed for walking, running, and sprinting, thus improving athleticism.
Although highly effective exercises, traditional workouts like the squat and the deadlift are not nearly as functionally specific to running and sprinting as hill walking. Whereas deadlifts and squats are better at training your ability to lift heavy objects, the resisted walking promotes better athleticism.
I squat and deadlift to be able to move sofas. I hill walk to run and play with better control, power, and speed.
Don’t have a hill? Try dragging or pushing a sled. Using a sled for dragging or pulling is very similar in muscular demands to hill walking.
Don’t feel like walking? Try running, sprinting, side shuffling, or doing a kareoka shuffle. These workouts can be done with a hill or a sled.
Remember, variety is the spice of life, and the best way to keep progress is to vary your workouts to not allow the body to fully adapt.
If concerned about safety, pick a hill with less technical terrain and consider using trekking poles.
If using a weighted backpack or vest, err on the side of going light and overtime progressively add heavier weight.
And as always, avoid any exercises that cause “bad” pain.
Check out my YouTube video of a saturday morning hill Workout here:
This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am James O’Brien and the founder of Perfecting Movement. In my 10+ years-experience as a physical therapist, my predominant focus has been in orthopedic physical therapy and personal training. During this time I have developed a logical formula based in good movement practices and safe therapeutic exercise to deal with common orthopedic injuries and pain. I have had an excellent success rate at getting my patients better.
I am extremely passionate about teaching my patients and clients how to self-manage their injuries and to prevent such injuries from happening again. I hope to share with you some of my successful treatment and injury prevention strategies.
OUCH! INJURIES HURT!
LETS PREVENT THEM FROM HAPPENING.
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