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High intensity uphill interval training improves 5km running performance

Posted on Tuesday, 2 April, 2013 by anthony

Hill training is known to be a highly specific form of resistance training that can enhance endurance running performance. Recent research (Barnes et al., 2013) looked at the effect of different hill running interval training programs on 5km running performance in twenty well trained endurance runners. The runners initially underwent a series of tests including an incremental exercise test, jumps on a force plate and a 5km time trial. The runners were then randomly assigned to one of 5 uphill interval running workouts and following 6-weeks of training they underwent the same series of tests.

The effect of hill running programs on 5km time trial performance

Interestingly the researchers observed that there didn’t appear to be an optimum intensity for improving 5km time trial performance, with all hill training intensities leading to similar improvements in 5km time trial performance (~2%)*. However they observed greater improvements in running economy amongst the high intensity uphill interval training, and greater improvements in aerobic measures in the mid intensity groups. The researchers concluded that any form of high intensity uphill interval training will benefit 5km running performance.

*There was no information available regarding the exact intensities used for the high intensity uphill running.

Practical implications from the hill running research

Whilst there was no specific information available about the exact intensities used within this research we can assume that intensities used were in the range of ~90-100% VO2max since the researchers were using high intensity uphill running – high intensity interval training is normally used to describe intensities in the range of 90-100%VO2max. Since the researchers found different benefits to training in both the high range (improved economy) and mid range (improved aerobic measures) it seems logical to use different intensities within training to maximise the training benefit of uphill running i.e. hill session 1 = 10mile pace hill repeats, hill session 2 = 10k-5k pace hill repeats. Therefore look to mix up the intensities by utilising different hill interval sessions on a weekly basis. You can read about specific hill training sessions on the following pages: 1) Short hill intervals; 2) Long hill intervals; 3) Tempo hill intervals.

You can read more about the benefits of hill training by viewing the hill running section

Hill Running Reference:

Barnes KR, Hopkins WG, McGuigan MR, Kilding AE. (2013) Effects of Different Uphill Interval-Training Programs on Running Economy and Performance. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2013 Mar 26. [Epub ahead of print]

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