In the quest to change their appearance, many women choose the wrong exercises. The goal is to find an exercise that burns fat, but not at the expense of muscle. Hill sprints are the perfect choice. Exercise physiologist Pete McCall says hill sprints will tax your anaerobic energy system by forcing your body to quickly create more energy. This leaves your hard-earned muscle safe from the demands of fat-burning exercise.
Burn Fat not Muscle
Muscle is responsible for how you look, feel and perform. Having muscle raises your basal metabolic rate, which is the rate your body burns calories at rest. This helps you get to and maintain a healthy body weight. Muscle will also help you accomplish daily tasks with much less effort. Imagine walking up the stairs and carrying groceries with half of the effort. Because muscle matters to your daily life, your training should never sacrifice it.
Why Hill Sprints Work
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Hill sprints don't require anything except a hill. They also provide multiple benefits. First, running hill sprints prevents you from reaching maximum limb speed. This means beginners will be able to do hill sprints without the risk of pulling their hamstrings. Second, running on an inclined surface forces you to have the proper body lean when you run, making you a more efficient flat-land sprinter as well. Third, the hill adds an even greater calorie burn to traditional sprinting. It's like combining weightlifting and flat-land sprints.
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For a basic hill sprint workout, try this plan. Sprint up the hill as far as you can in 20 seconds. Carefully walk back down the hill. Once you reach the starting point, catch your breath and sprint back up the hill, trying to reach the same point in 20 seconds. Do this for three to five reps. For a variation of this, try running for a set distance instead of time. Walk back down the hill, catch your breath and do it again. Try to meet or beat your previous time on every rep. For both of these protocols as your fitness levels improve, add repetitions, time or distance to increase the intensity.
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Before beginning any exercise program, check with your doctor to minimize unforeseen risks. During your workout, stop if you feel light headed or dizzy, and check the hill for hazards so you don't trip or twist your ankle. Take your time walking back down the hill. If possible, run hill sprints with a friend who will push you, but also help you if something should happen. Drink water or a sports drink to prevent dehydration.
Carl Galloway is a strength-and-conditioning coach at a high school in Southern California. He is certified as an Olympic lifting coach through USA Weightlifting and as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Galloway holds a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and a master's degree in coaching and athletic administration.