The best cardio and strength equipment beckons right beyond your door.

By Sara Angle
Updated: October 23, 2017
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Running hills is a fresh way to get interval training into your routine to measurably boost your fitness level so you become faster and stronger overall, says Ryan Bolton, an Olympic triathlete and the founder of Bolton Endurance Sports Training in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

"Hill repeats [a.k.a. uphill intervals] can work the aerobic and anaerobic systems of your body and improve your strength at the same time," he says. (Not to mention, there are more benefits to running outside.)

When you run up a hill, you instinctively increase your step frequency in response to the upgrade, and your lower limbs must do more work than they would in level or downhill running, says Gianluca Vernillo, Ph.D., a kinesiologist at the University of Calgary in Canada who studies hill running. Specifically, uphill running showed higher muscle activation in the glutes, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, and inner and outer thighs. That means a bigger calorie burn with each uphill stride. "It's like doing multiple lunges while projecting your body weight forward and up," Bolton says. So your heart rate is being elevated. Meanwhile, there's also a plyometric component to it. (Make sure to also fit in these 5 essential cross-training workouts all runners need.)

When tackling hills, good form is key. (Use these simple form tweaks to make running feel a thousand times easier.) Focus on driving your knees up toward your chest and your arms powerfully forward and backward with each stride, Bolton says. Maintain a "proud" position, with your back tall and chest and chin up-resist the urge to lean forward too much. Ace these workouts created by Bolton, and you'll not only feel pretty badass but also discover a new playground for your body goals.

Get Faster & Stronger

Warm up for 10 to 20 minutes at an easy pace.

Do twelve 30-second hill repeats as fast as you can run up a moderate hill. (One with a 6 to 9 percent grade–slightly steeper than the grades of most bridges and overpasses–is ideal.)

Jog to the bottom of the hill between the uphill sprints (or repeat).

Build Speed Endurance

Warm up for 10 to 20 minutes at an easy pace.

Do six 2-minute-and-30-second hill repeats on a small hill: Look for one with a 4 to 6 percent grade, which is about the same grade as bridges and overpasses. Run uphill at a pace you can hold for about 20 minutes.

Jog to the bottom of the hill after each repeat.

Cool down with a five- to 15-minute jog.

Boost Power

Warm up for 20 minutes at an easy pace.

Do twelve 10- to 12-second all-out sprints on a fairly steep hill (one with an 8 to 12 percent grade, about the same as an average staircase).

Keep moving at a very easy jog for a minute and a half between sprints.

Immediately after the last sprint, run for 10 minutes at a moderate pace.

Cool down with a five-minute jog.

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