Sprinting uphill burns fat efficiently and is safer than running on flat ground.
When I was a lad, I lived on a square city block. You could walk (or run) around it. The environment was conducive to flat ground sprints, and we had plenty of barefoot asphalt races in Reseda in the mid- to late 80s. Now, my neighborhood is all hills. While there aren’t many kids running the streets, it’s perfect for hill sprints. I have a session scheduled at 5:45am tomorrow morning with my two young men. I’m confident they’ll be safer than I was as a kid and not just because they’ll have shoes on. From mensfitness.com:
Hill sprints are safer on your legs because of the angle of your body and the shorter stride,” Ferruggia says. There’s also greater loading going uphill, and your lower body and arms learn to contract faster. Don’t worry about lactic acid, either. Increasing training volume by 10–20% per week will improve your lactate threshold, researchers say. Hill sprints have been used by some of the best athletes in the world. NFL Hall of Famer Walter Payton’s motto: “You’ve got to beat [the hill].
“Sweetness” wasn’t the only running back to train by moving quickly uphill. This is quality motivation for my son, a tailback. I’ll remind him when I wake him up in the dark and tell him to get his running shoes on that Ladanian Tomlinson was notorious for opting for hills over flat. Directly from the mouth of LT:
What I do involves my ‘fast twitch’ muscles. Hamstring, quad, muscles throughout the leg – that’s what makes you go fast. So I do a lot of quick-burst exercises, running up hills. I’ve got a nice hill in my back yard. I like to run up that.
Perhaps he knew how much impact he was saving his body. For an elite NFL athlete, minimizing pounding is important. For us mortals, it’s equally as critical. Uphill running is less damaging in that regard. From runnersconnect.net:
A 2005 study by Jinger Gottschall and Rodger Kram quantified the difference in impact during uphill and downhill running.2 Using a force plate and an adjustable-incline treadmill, Gottschall and Kram calculated both the impact force and braking/propulsive force. The braking and propulsive forces are the resistances the foot encounters in the forward and backward direction (parallel to the ground), respectively, vs. the downward resistance encountered in the impact force.For running at an even pace on flat ground, the propulsive force and braking force are about equal. Ten subjects ran at inclines ranging between +9° and -9°.
Impact forces were 54% greater and braking forces 75% greater while running downhill.
In contrast, the impact force virtually disappeared during uphill running, while the propulsive force increased 74%. This should not be too much of a surprise, since gravity is doing most of the propulsion on the way down, but you have to do it on the way up.
Hitting the brakes is easy in my neighborhood. Malibu tends to slow you down.