Hill repeats might sound painful, but they are a great way to build your fitness and strength through the off-season. 

Although no one likes the sound of a hill reps session, if you keep them relatively short and sweet then they shouldn’t leave you feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck and—bonus—you’ll gain plenty of run-specific strength, fitness, and power. And all in under an hour!

Begin with a gentle 15 minute warm-up that sees you progressing from RPE (rate of perceived exertion) 5 out of 10, through to 6 or 7/10 by the warm-up’s conclusion. Find a hill that’s about 4-5 percent grade, ideally in a quiet neighborhood so you’re not interrupted by traffic.

There are four different hill reps sections to this workout. The first involves four sets of 90-second hill repeats. Hit these at about 7/10 RPE, so you should feel well in control. Jog back down to your starting point as recovery and then repeat until you’ve done four.

On the second round, the duration gets lower but the effort gets higher: four sets of 60-second hills. Nudge the effort level up to 8/10 RPE, so you’re starting to push the pace. As before, jog back downhill as recovery.

For the third round, you’re looking to hit four rounds of 30-second efforts. These should be nearing maximal effort now, 9/10 RPE. Jog back downhill to recover.

On the final round, have some fun with these: it’s four sets of 15-second hill reps. These are short and sharp but make them count! Effort level should be 10/10.

Your focus should be on form throughout all of the efforts, don’t force it, and as you tire try to hold good form.

Take 10 minutes to cool down and recover.

One-Hour Workout: Hill Reps

Warm-up

15 minutes

Main Set: Hill Reps

On a 4-5 percent grade hill

4 x 90 seconds @ 7/10 RPE, jog back downhill recovery

4 x 60 seconds @ 8/10 RPE, jog back downhill recovery

4 x 30 seconds @ 9/10 RPE, jog back downhill recovery

4 x 15 seconds @ 10/10 RPE, jog back downhill recovery

Cooldown

10 minutes easy