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How to

Running 101: Why inclined running should be part of your beginner routine

Man running up a steep trail
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New runners often shy away from hills (at least when they have to run up them). Why make a run harder than it has to be? If it's difficult, that means it's probably good for you. Proper inclined running can help increase leg strength and lessen your chance of injury.

When I lived in New York City, there was no avoiding hills on my daily runs. But this helped prepare me for stronger, faster runs later on. When I started lining up for races, inclines didn't faze me.

If you're a new runner, find a good hill nearby or use a treadmill that has incline settings. Inclined running is one of the best ways to bring some extra intensity to your workouts.

Build your strength and speed

Did you know running inclines can serve as a form of resistance training? This means running up a hill can build and strengthen your calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. And since the muscles used to climb hills are the same ones used for sprinting, adding inclined running to your routine can help boost your speed, too.

Not sure how to get started? Build your hill strength by gradually increasing the incline level on a treadmill or adding longer and more frequent hill intervals to your runs as you build endurance. Begin by incorporating 100–200 meter hill repeats, running up as fast as you can and jogging down to recover. Alternatively, if you have access to a treadmill, increase the incline from 2–5% and run for one to three minutes at a time with jog recoveries.

You'll likely notice an increase in your heart rate while running uphill. Inclined running is a great way to squeeze in a high-intensity workout in a time crunch. Eventually, you'll get used to running inclines and find those scary hills are not as bad as when you first started.

Invest in the incline

Inclined running might seem daunting when you're just starting out, but it's one of the best ways to build strength, endurance, and speed. Plus, the sense of accomplishment you feel with every hill you conquer is great motivation. Running uphill is hard, but the glorious decline on the other side is one of the many rewards of tackling that incline.

Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.

Written By
Emilia Benton

Contributing Writer

Emilia Benton Running

I'm a Houston, Texas, native who's run 11 marathons and 30-something half marathons, with 3:30 and 1:39 personal bests. I'm also a freelance health and fitness journalist, a USATF Level 1-certified running coach, and a lover of country music, baking, and world travel.