Intervals for Cardio


HIIT on Hills

Are you ready for a fat burning high-intensity hill interval workout?  Then read on to learn about hill intervals and give them a shot for your next cardio workout.

Athletes from many sports use hill running as an effective way to enhance their speed, strength, agility, balance, and fitness.  Many NFL players use it as an integral part of their training regimens.  I don't know how many times I have seen the clip of the late NFL Hall of Fame running back Walter Patyon running up and down a hill somewhere in Chicago but I watched it enough times for it to inspire me to go out and give it a try.  So I ventured out to a local park that had a nice sized hill with a fairly steep grade.  I ran up the hill and trotted down it ten times and during the workout I quickly learned that hill running is a hardcore workout.  My heart was about to beat out of my chest, I was sweating hard, I was breathing hard, and my legs and chest were burning.  Needless to say that it took me a few days to recover after that workout.  I thought to myself I see why Walter did this.  I am sure it got him into better shape than his competitors and helped propel him to greatness.  Check out the videos below to see how hill interval training is done by Walter and his son Jarrett.

Hill intervals are tough and they will never be an easy walk in the park but over time you will build conditioning for them.  You don't have to be an athlete to perform hill intervals, anyone can use them to increase their fitness level, burn calories, and reduce body fat.

Hill surfaces can be grass, dirt, pavement, or sand with each providing a different feel to running.  Sandy or beach hills make for a harder workout since sand is more difficult to run on than other surfaces unless of course it's packed down.  Natural and man-made hills can be slanted or curved with each providing a different feel of ascent.  Parks always provide many hilly dirt or paved trails, neighborhoods provide hilly sidewalks, and cities provide many hilly structures, so you can always find somewhere to hill train.

The intensity of the work interval will depend on how steep the hill is and how fast you run up it.  The steeper the hill and the faster you run up it, the harder the work interval will be.  Also, the steeper the hill the shorter you should make the work interval.  Hill intervals are very intense so beginners should start with jogging until they are fit enough to run up a hill.

I based this program on a hill that is slanted about 40 degrees. The work interval will be 15 seconds of running up the hill and the rest interval will be as long as it takes you to trot or walk back down to the base.  To perform hill intervals start at the base of a hill and then run up the hill for the work interval.  After the work interval is complete walk or trot back down to the base.  Once you get down to the base perform the next work interval and repeat the process until all ten sets are finished.

When performing hill intervals watch your footing when going up and down the hill to avoid twisting ankles, tripping, and falling.  Always warm up before performing intervals and cool down afterwards.

Interval Chart:

 Hill Intervals  Sets

 Run up hill for 15s + Trot or walk back down to base


Another Example

Try these shorter 10 second hill intervals for a change of pace.  Since they are shorter there will be more sets to perform (14 sets) and they will give you a shorter trip back down the hill for a shorter rest interval.

Interval Chart:

 Hill Intervals  Sets

 Run up hill for 10s + Trot or walk back down to base


Interview with Walter Payton about his hill training and footage of him doing it.

Walter's son Jarrett Payton giving a nice demonstration of hill interval training, like father, like son.