Cross Training Ideas for Stair Climbs: Hill Sprints

Disclaimer: Before starting any exercise program, be sure to consult your physician to ensure you are healthy enough to perform strenuous exercise. Performing strenuous exercise when you are not healthy enough is dangerous and could lead to serious injury or death.

One of my favorite cross training exercises for stair climbs is hill sprints.  During the winter months, I will do intervals on the Incline Treadmill at X Gym Alki (note: X Gym’s incline treadmills go up to 50% grade).  During the summer months however, I like to sprint the hills by my apartment in Belltown.  There are three things I like about sprinting hills in Belltown: 1) The hills are steep, 2) There are plenty of hills with varying grades, and 3) There are always people who look at me as if I’m crazy and for some reason I find this oddly motivating.

Sprint hills are very simple.  To get started, find a hill with a challenging grade (see attached map for a recommendation within Seattle) and sprint up it.  Once you’ve completed, walk down and repeat. I typically don’t rest more than the walk down.  The number of reps will depend on how steep the hill is, how hard you are pushing yourself, and your fitness level.  I have two different drills I like to do.  The first is going as fast as I can for as many reps as I can.  When I am no longer sprinting and have reduced to a slow jog, I’m done.  This is typically around 10-12 reps on the steep hills of Belltown.  The second drill involves a more moderate pace and higher reps.  I typically shoot for about 20 reps during this drill.

Recommended Hill Sprints in Seattle

Today I had the pleasure of sprinting some hills in Seattle with Proby.  We decided to do a tour of the hills within Belltown.  We started at the Sculpture Garden and sprinted every hill until Pine St.  This turned out to be about 12 hills and a little over two miles (see attached map).  We are referring to this sprint tour as the “Hills of Belltown”.  This was a fantastic tour and I couldn’t recommend it enough.  Once we completed this, we jogged up Madison St. up to Boylston which is about 3/4 mile all uphill.  Since the workout is two segments, either could be done individually, or they could be linked together as we did in this training session.  Proby and I also discussed linking the Hills of Belltown with a WaMU Tower climb.  We will most likely try this within the next few weeks.