Road [or Trail] Workout: Beginner & Intermediate Hill Repeats

By Takia McClendon

Ready to switch things up? We're taking our workout from the flat track (or road) to the hilly incline in your neighborhood that you avoid during your weekly runs. That's right, this workout is all about hill repeats. 

Not only are hill repeats great for runners who are doing a hilly road race, they're also great for anyone who wants to work on strength, increase speed and gain power. 

What is the workout: Hill repeats are exactly what they sound like. After our warm-up, we'll start at the bottom of a hill and then repeat running up and down it. Sounds fun, right?

If it sounds brutal than fun, just think about how beneficial hill repeats are to your training program. By including them a few times during your training, you will help strengthen the muscles in your legs, build your cardiovascular system, and gain speed. Win, win. 

  • Beginners: 4-5 repeats with walking recovery down the hill.

  • Intermediate: 5-8 repeats with easy jogging recovery down the hill.

Where should I do it: You're going to have to skip the track for this workout and head to a place with a graduated incline. The hill doesn't has to be too steep but it should be challenging enough that you'll feel the burn. 

What to expect: Hill repeats are tough but you can get through them. Be sure to take it easy on the downhill (to avoid injuries) and wear shoes that are supportive enough to get you through the workout. Nobody wants to deal with shin splints after a tough set of hill repeats. 

Speedwork 101: How to read speed workouts

The Warm-Up: Start by jogging for 10-15 minutes (or 1/1.5 miles) at an easy pace on a flat terrain. We want to give our bodies a chance to get the blood flowing before we hit those hills. 

The Drill: Easy skip with arm circles for 100 meters. Repeat once. 

The Beginner Workout: Sprint up the hill at a hard effort. Once you reach the top of the hill, take a few seconds to recover before heading back down at a brisk walking pace. Repeat 4-5 times. 

The Intermediate Workout: Sprint up the hill at a hard effort. Once you reach the top of the hill, take a few seconds to recover then jog back down the hill at a very easy pace. Repeat 5-8 times. 

The Cool down: After your hill repeats, return to a flat surface for a 1-mile easy run. 

Takia is the co-founder of City Fit Girls. She works full-time at Philadelphia Runner, an independent run retailer in Philadelphia, where she has fitted hundreds of new and experienced runners for shoes. 

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