Unless you stick to the track or a treadmill, hills are bound to appear on your routes. If your muscles lack strength, your form can falter. You might lean too far forward going up and too far backward going down, a combo that wastes energy and increases injury risk, says Jason Fitzgerald, coach and founder of strengthrunning.com. This routine from Fitzgerald will strengthen key muscles that will power you through both the ups and the downs.
Works: The quads and glutes.
To Do: Step to your right, bending your right knee until your hamstring is parallel to the floor. Push off the right foot and return to the starting position, then repeat on the left. Complete 20 total reps, alternating legs.
Works: The glutes, hamstrings, and quads (quads are the primary muscles used for running uphill).
To Do: While holding dumbbells and keeping your feet shoulder width apart, shift your weight to your heels as you lower into a seated position. Keep your eyes forward and descend until your hamstrings are parallel to the ground before you stand back up. Do 25 reps at a controlled pace.
Strengthens: The glutes, hamstrings, and calves, which give you stability and control on downhills.
To Do: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Bend at the waist and knees and pick up a pair of dumbbells from the floor. As you stand up, pinch your shoulder blades together. Then lower back down, tapping the dumbbells on the ground before standing back up. Do 25 reps at a controlled pace.
Develops: Powerful quads for stronger hill climbing.
To Do: Holding dumbbells, place your right foot on a box or step. Drive your weight into your heel as you step up. Squeeze your glutes at the top. Step back down in a controlled manner. Repeat with the left foot. Complete 20 total reps, alternating legs.
Builds: Stability and strength that helps you maintain good running form while going up and down.
To Do: Start with your feet pointing straight ahead and holding dumbbells. Step forward with your left foot, then bend the left knee until the hamstring is parallel to the floor. Your right knee should touch or come just above the ground. To avoid injury, make sure the left knee stays behind the toes. Step back up and repeat on the other side. Complete 20 total reps, alternating legs.