T Nation

Hill Sprints


(Long time listener, first time caller.)

I've just started hill sprints and wanted to know people's thoughts on optimising my progression. The hill starts shallow but gets much steeper from the midpoint and when i'm fresh takes 33 seconds at 100% effort. There's plenty more run up before the hill, and yet more flat at the top if i need to increase the actual amount of time sprinting. But i prefer staying sub-40secs because beyond my body probably won't be able to give it 100%.

I've just come back from a knee MCL tear and that's now fine but conditioning and strength has taken a hit. My first session was 3 sprints with 2 mins rest and yesterday i did 4 sprints with 2 mins rest (33,34,35,42 secs). My eventual aim is to be able to do 8 sprints sub-40 secs with only 60-90 secs rest.

So here are my questions:

1) should i continue to gradually add to my number of sprints whilst keeping the rest the same (ie build up to 8 sprints with 2 mins rest) before starting to lower the rest periods or

2) should i get comfortable doing 4-5 sprints with 60secs rest then slowly add further sprints or

3) shall i stop over thinking it and just do a mixture of both?!

I'd be really grateful to hear what experiences you guys/gals have had with this.



Well it depends on your goals.

What do you wish to achieve from doing hill sprints?



I'm doing Tough Mudder and Tough Guy next year and wanted to increase my conditioning for that. I know in training for those i'll have to do some running at some point but i'm trying my hardest to avoid that as much as possible since i hate running so much! 3 miles is my limit before i get ridiculously bored.

I'm hoping these sprints will have good carry over to these events as the obstacles seem be less than 1km apart so not sure how much long runs will be of use anyway. If these sprints help increase my lactate threshold then that should undoubtedly be useful.


Become a fell runner, those people eat the likes of tough mudder etc for breakfast.


you're coming back from a major knee injury and you're doing sprints already. and hill sprints???????!!!!!!!!


I did a Spartan Race this past spring (5k) and I would strongly suggest focusing on base building miles, long, steep hill/stair climbing (not sprinting, grinding, possibly loaded if your knee's solid), obstacle work and tempo runs. The obstacles may be close together but it's still more of a sustained, aerobic effort than a series of sprints. Most runners were on the course for about an hour. In my heat there were no waits for obstacles so it's pretty much continuous.

My particular race was also on the lower portion of an active ski resort (complete with snow) and the steepness of the grade allowed for very little sprinting but lots of grinding. As far as I know race organizers tend to favour such terrain. Assuming you want to do well, I suggest you start running/climbing now (if your knee is clear) as opposed to "at some point".

I suggest you incorporate some sort of specific prep for obstacles (i.e. bear crawls, rope climbs, over/unders and general ground/agility stuff). Obstacle racing is madly popular right now so there is a ton of information available about how to prep.

Have fun!


It was a grade 1/2 tear so not complete but i've found sprinting up hills pain-free whereas slow jogging/yogging on the flat still causes a niggle.

Thanks for the advice guys, pretty much confirmed what i knew in my heart-of-hearts which is that there's no excuse for just clocking up the miles. Ballsacks.

There is only one way to numb this pain...buy some new gear!