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What are Hill Sprints?

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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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Hill sprints are an exercise involving short bursts of running up and down steep hills at nearly top speed, usually for periods of 30 to 60 seconds. They are part of a larger set of exercise techniques called hill training. Usually, an athlete does hill sprints to gain running speed, strengthen his muscles, or to lose body fat. While hill sprints are a popular exercise for athletes seeking to train themselves to the next level of performance, they carry a high risk of injury, especially for beginners to hill training.

The purpose of hill sprints depends on the fitness level of the person doing the sprints. This exercise can be used both for training athletes and for a warm-up routine in sprinting sports. Reasons for doing hill sprints usually include speed training and muscle strength training. This technique is also widely considered to be a quick way to build lean muscle and lower a runner's body fat percentage.

One of the negative aspects to hill sprints is the increased likelihood of injury. The exercise involves fast acceleration and requires the runner to gain nearly top speed for the hill sprint. A hamstring pull is a common injury for runners engaging in hill sprinting. Similar injuries occur in hill sprints as in sprinting parts of games such as baseball, like when a runner takes a base. Injuries while hill sprinting are more likely when the runner is out of shape or has not properly warmed up.

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Proper warm ups for runners working on hill sprints include power walking, light jogging, and stretching. The most important areas to stretch when warming up for hill sprinting are the lower back, and upper and lower legs, with special focus on the hamstrings and quadriceps. Warming up the ankles is also beneficial when preparing for this activity.

Hill running is a similar activity to hill sprinting, but it differs in some ways. While hill sprinting is usually done in short bursts on steep, brief hills, hill running involves more sustained running on longer, often less steep hills. Generally a lower-risk form of exercise than sprinting, hill running focuses more on endurance than hill sprinting. In comparison to hill running, hill sprinting is a more suitable exercise for training a runner to accelerate quickly.

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