If you enjoy running to maintain your health and lose weight, there is a small trick you might be missing out on; which can significantly increase the results that your running sessions produce.
We are, of course, talking about running on an incline instead of a flat surface.
Incline running can be applied by setting your treadmill to an incline or by simply finding a hill to tackle in your local area; whatever your running style, there are many advantages to running on an incline compared to a level surface.
Advantages of Incline Running
Here are a few examples of the advantages of incline running:
- Increased Caloric Expenditure
Running on an incline causes you to burn more calories than you would on a flat surface – in fact, the difference is quite significant.
- Increased Endurance
Running in a hilly part of town or setting your treadmill to an incline will actually make running on a flat surface far easier when you come back to it.
The key here is to gradually increase the incline over the period of a few weeks, giving your body the necessary time to adapt.
- Injury Prevention
Running on a level surface can wreak havoc on the joints of your body, placing particular strain on your knees and shins. Incline running is a great way to reduce the amount of stress placed on your joints so that you can cover greater distances and run more frequently.
- Increased Speed
Much in the same way that incline running will boost your endurance levels and make flat running easier, it will also help to develop the muscles in your legs so that you can generate more explosive force with each footfall. This is ideal for sprinters; hill sprints are an incredibly effective way of boosting your speed and increasing your fitness levels.
Running on a flat surface certainly has application in many fields, but we can clearly see here that incline running boasts a fair few advantages in terms of weight loss and fitness.
Tips for Incline Runners
Running on an incline is obviously more difficult than running on a level surface, which is why it burns more calories and provides a greater stimulus to the metabolism.
This level of difficulty can deter many people from experimenting with it, but hopefully by now you are somewhat convinced of the benefits of incline running and you’re ready to give it a shot.
Important Tips for Incline Running Sessions:
- Sometimes 1% is Enough
Scientists have established that many treadmills need to be set to an incline of 1% just to be on par with the conditions of running outside on a track or road.
When you first start incline running, begin by setting the gradient to just 1-2%; you’ll likely find that this is more than enough to help you familiarize yourself with the mechanics of running on a slope.
- Don’t Reach too High
Generally speaking, you will want to avoid setting the incline above 7% because anything more than this will place considerable strain on your lower back and hips, not to mention your shins and ankles which are likely to take a nasty beating.
If you feel a significant amount of pain in your shins or joints while running, you may want to lower the gradient for the rest of the session and consider taking a slower warm up next time.
- Utilize Intervals
Instead of performing longer, low-intensity running, why not mix in some interval workouts from time to time? These are an incredibly effective way for you to kick start your metabolism and benefit from much shorter workouts.A hill sprint workout might look something like this:
- Slow jog for 5 minutes
- Speed up and increase incline to 4% for 2 minutes
- Slow jog for 2 minutes
- Speed up and increase incline to 5% for 2 minutes
- Slow jog for 2 minutes
- Speed up and increase incline to 6% for 2 minutes
- Slow jog for 2 minutes
- Speed up and increase incline to 7% for 2 minutes
From here you can begin to lower the incline, ending the workout with a 5-10 minute cool down to enable your muscles to slowly relax and your heart rate to return to normal.
- Pay Attention to Your Body
While running, remain attentive to the mechanics of your movement; you will be working slightly different muscles and will need to raise your knees a fair bit higher and push off from the ground more forcefully than you would on a flat surface.
Be sure to also listen to your body in between workouts, staying mindful of any nagging aches and pains or stiffness in your muscles and joints. If you experience recurring localized pain, you may need to assess your running technique to determine where the issue is arising from.
- What Goes Up Must Come Down
For the outdoor runners amongst you who are taking on hills, it is important to fully grasp the mechanics of downhill running as well as uphill running. Running back down a hill can really take its toll on your knees and shins, and your quadriceps muscles will also take a pretty severe beating if you don’t pay attention to your technique.
As you run downhill, lean forward into the decline and take shorter, faster strides than you would on the way up the hill. This can be difficult to adjust to at first but applying correct technique from the offset will help to prevent any nasty injuries.
Incline running certainly has a lot of benefits to offer, but it is vitally important that you take heed of these tips to ensure a happy and healthy running career.
Increase your work volume and running intensity gradually over time and before you know it, you’ll be taking on otherwise-dauntingly steep hills with ease!