Hill Sprints - Single Best Exercise for Conditioning and Toughness?
Anyone who knows me, or follows me on social, is aware I’ve been dealing with a herniated disc injury courtesy of Jiu-Jitsu.
Obviously, I’ve had to scale things back and work within the confines of my injury. I’m slowly getting better and slowly adding more back in as the weeks pass.
Related - The Six Most Brutal Conditioning Exercises
One of the things I have yet to be able to add back in is hill sprints. I’m a huge fan of hill sprints.
There’s a multitude of reasons for my admiration, but the biggest being it’s free. Hill sprints are brutally tough and you’ll struggle to find something more effective in terms of conditioning.
Those who frequent the hills understand just how important they are.
The Mental Aspect
Personally, one of the biggest things I’ve noticed from a lack of hill sprinting is the mental side of things.
Very few things build mental toughness like sprinting hills. It’s a very humbling experience. There is simply no way to win.
You hit PRs on barbell movements and then move up a weight. The hill, well it’s always just a hill.
It’s always uncomfortable, always painful and always going to beat you down. You’ll feel your lungs breathe fire with a heat that sears your throat.
It Never Gets Easier
It will never become easier. You simply push harder and harder. Each time you sprint, you do so with a greater urgency.
There’s a wonderful metaphor for life in the hills.
The good stuff is at the top and to get there: One you have to show up (more than 99% don't) and two, you have to bust your ass through the struggles to get there. This is what makes great things happen.
It may never become easier, but you’re getting better. Conditioning, much like the hill, is unbeatable.
Eventually, you will tire. Everyone does. There are no exceptions to this rule.
I know it’s an overused quote by Vince Lombardi, but it is for a reason – “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
Conditioning is a funny thing really. Whether you’re a complete beginner embarking on your first day of training, or an elite athlete who is gifted in every possible way – you’ll tire. You give everything you have and you’ll tire. This reigns true for everyone.
Sprinting a hill has a way of forcing you to give your all. It’s truly relentless.
Frequent exposure to a hill will push you out of your comfort zone. You’ll have to deal with a whole new level of fatigue, mental conflict, and muscular tiredness.
In facing the beast though, you’ll come to realize it’s not as bad as it could be. You’re tougher than, stronger than and fitter than you thought you could be.
All other areas that fatigue you won’t seem as bad as the hill.
Social Style over Substance
Sadly, the world we live in now is all about style over substance. “Coaches” seek to create new exercises to entertain the masses and appease the social standing they have.
Champion caliber athletes from all walks of life have used hill sprints to take them to the highest level.
It may not be new and/or exciting. It may not look good on a social profile, but I urge you to find yourself a hill and bust your ass on it time and time again.
Keep going back. Keep getting punished by it and I promise you, you’ll be fitter, leaner, stronger, mentally and physically tougher than 99% of people who walk this planet.
As always, just my two cents!
I can’t wait to get my ass back to the hill – I hope you find the same enthusiasm for your own.
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