3xHealth

Fitness

Use The Power Of Gravity To “Hack” Your Workouts

skyrunner-athlete-runs-uphill-against

If you’re exploring holistic health solutions and looking for alternative ways to enhance your workouts, consider making physical activity an uphill battle – quite literally. While we often think of progressing workouts by lifting heavier weights or running longer distances, the simple act of incorporating incline training can provide total-body benefits and protect against injuries.

Incline training involves utilizing natural hills or the incline setting on cardio machines and can be applied to various activities such as walking, running, cycling, or hiking. There are multiple benefits of incline training, emphasizing its ability to improve cardiovascular health, increase calorie burn in less time, and strengthen the lower body and core.

Studies indicate that incline exercise on a treadmill can lead to a higher heart rate and oxygen consumption compared to exercising on level ground. Moreover, research suggests that walking on an incline may be more effective than walking on a flat surface in preventing and reducing obesity, with fat oxidation being higher at a 6% gradient.

Notably, uphill running or walking puts greater demand on the calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes, offering a unique challenge compared to flat or downhill activities. Simultaneously, it puts less stress on connective tissues, reducing the risk of strains.

However, it’s essential to approach incline training wisely. Popularized on social media, some intense variations may not be suitable for beginners. Instead, start with gradual increases in incline, such as 2%, and build up over time to avoid potential injuries.

Experts recommend a slow and safe progression, increasing the incline by 2% weekly if training at least twice a week. Additionally, varying workout variables, such as time spent on incline and flat surfaces, speed, or percentage incline, can prevent the body from adapting fully to the same routine, leading to improved fitness.

For those training outdoors on natural hills, walking backward downhill is suggested to reduce strain on the quads and minimize the risk of knee pain. Introducing strength exercises, such as pushups or lunges on a hill, adds diversity to the workout, enhancing mobility and challenging different muscle groups.

Incorporating incline training into your routine can be a holistic approach to fitness. Whether using a treadmill or opting for outdoor activities, the variability of natural hills provides a challenging workout. While maintaining control over incline or resistance on machines, the unpredictable nature of outdoor terrain offers a unique fitness experience, making activities like hiking an excellent low-skill fitness option that combines muscle engagement with the outdoors.

To incorporate incline training into your routine, consider a sample hill workout lasting about 30 minutes. Find a hill that takes around 2 minutes to walk up, warm up with a brisk 5-minute walk, do eight intervals on the hill at varying intensities, incorporate strength exercises at the top of each hill, and cool down for 3 to 5 minutes. This holistic approach to exercise combines cardiovascular benefits with strength training, promoting overall well-being.

Do you ever do your training on an incline? Why or why not? What results do you see? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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