There are a lot of days that I find myself short on time, and struggling to fit in an effective workout. This can be when I’m swamped with work, family, traveling, or just not in the mood to put in a lot of miles. That said, just because a workout is short, doesn’t mean it can’t be effective. Luckily I have more than a few killer workouts in my bag of tricks for busy days. And today I’m going to share one of my favorites with you, something I like to call the ultimate 20 minute treadmill hill workout. It is not easy, but it sure is effective!
The Ultimate 20 Minute Treadmill Hill Workout for Runners
Below I’m going to show you the workout, ways to scale the workout, and why this workout offers you so much bang for your buck when it comes to time spent working out. I promise if you throw this one in the mix every few weeks, you will become a stronger runner.
The Ultimate 20 Minute Treadmill Hill Workout
- 2 Minutes warm up at 2% incline
- 2 Minutes 5 mph at a 6% Inline
- 1 Minute 5 mph at a 2% Inline
- 2 Minutes 5 mph at a 8% Inline
- 1 Minutes at 5 mph at a 2% Inline
- 2 Minutes at 5 mph at a 10% Incline 10 Minutes
- 1 Minute at 5 mph at a 2% inline
- 2 minutes at 5mph at a 12% inline
- 1 Minute at 5 mph at a 2% inline
- 2 Minutes at 5mph at a 12% Inline
- 2 Minutes at 5 Mph at a 10% incline (or as high as you can hold the pace)
- 2 Minute slow jog / walk cool down at a 2% Incline
Workout Scaling Options
There are a coupe of great ways to scale this workout, making it challenging for any fitness level.
Walk the recovery period – During the workout there are 1 minute recovery sections. Feel free to walk these if you can handle doing the harder blocks at full incline and speed.
Lower the inline – This workout has you going up to a 12% at 5 mph. If you can hold that speed at a lower incline, that’s a great option.
Lower the Speed – If you are having trouble maintaining the speed, feel free to lower. Maybe completing the workout at 4.5 mph. And working your way up to 5 mph over time.
Making it Harder
For those of you looking to level up, there are unlimited ways to make this one harder. Here are some of my favorite options.
Up the Speed of the Incline Pushes – One of my favorite ways to make this one a little more spicy is by pushing the speed on the 2 minute incline sections. Go as hard as you can while maintaining the minimum 5 mph at recovery.
Do all the Incline Pushes at 12% Incline – If I’m looking to smoke my legs all do this workout, making all of the 2 minute push sections 12% incline or more. This is a great leg builder.
Why This Workout is so Effective
There are very few workouts you can do that will build leg strength, increase your hill endurance, and build your base stamina. And that’s why this is one of my favorites.
Building Speed & Uphill Strength
The steep hill intervals are designed to eat your legs slowly while increasing in difficulty. This is going to build a large amount of strength compared to flatter running. And is a classic form of speed work. Increasing the load placed on the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. Uphill running will also require more muscle recruitment from the upper body. Adding the power of your arm swing, leg drive, and kick. Improving both uphill and flat running.
Increase Uphill Endurance
Running at a higher incline at a pushed pace is not just building muscular strength, it’s also building increased V02 capacity while running uphill. By pushing your uphill pace for sustained intervals, then allowing your heart rate to recover and come back down, allows your body to adapt to that faster pace. You will be surprised at what doing this workout once a week will do for you.
Increasing Your Base Pace
A by-product of getting stronger and increasing your overall fitness level will allow you to sustain a slower pace while climbing for longer. That’s one thing the slower recovery intervals are meant to replicate. And completing this workout once a week for 4 weeks, you will typically see a drastic drop in your heart rate while in the 1 minute recovery intervals.
Bonus – Less Impact on the Joints
One of the best things about running uphill on a treadmill is that it takes a ton of impact off of the legs and joints compared to other speed building alternatives. Running uphill reduces impact by shortening the length the foot travels before impact. Combined with the softer landing of the treadmill deck makes for an incredibly low impact workout.
Conclusion – The Ultimate 20 Minute Treadmill Hill Workout
There are very few workouts that can offer as much return for time invested as this one. In only 20 minutes you will build strength, speed, endurance, and reduce the impact on your joints. It’s the reason I like to do this one at least once a month. And this is one of my favorite rainy day treadmill workouts.
If you like this workout or hate it, let me know in the comments below!