If you’re a regular runner looking to improve your speed and endurance you’ll know that it’s essential to mix up your training sessions. Sometimes that means short sprint sessions. Sometimes it means getting miles in your legs with a long, easy run. And sometimes, it means hill training.

Few phrases spark fear in a runner’s heart like hill running, but its difficulty is matched by its effectiveness in making you stronger and faster. If you’re struggling to find the motivation to tackle some hills – either on the treadmill or outside – hopefully these four benefits of incline training from Myprotein health and fitness expert Faye Reid will help inspire you.

It Burns More Calories

If your number one aim is to burn calories, find your nearest incline. The extra effort involved compared with running on the flat means you’ll be calling on your body’s reserves at a much faster rate, while also strengthening your muscles

“Uphill running utilises more muscle fibres than flat running and therefore improves strength while burning fat,” says Reid.

It Prevents Common Running Injuries

Regular runners place a lot of pressure on their shins and knees, often resulting in persistent niggles in those areas. Running uphill can help you avoid exacerbating those issues.

“Flat and downhill runs will mean that your weight is shifted forward and have more impact on your shins than on the supporting calf muscles, quads, hamstrings and glutes that are used to propel you forward when running uphill,” says Reid.

“The same can be said for your joints – your knees feel more strain on a flat or declining surface than your posterior muscles do.

“Uphill running is a perfect option for anyone looking to work those rear muscles and avoid excessive strain on your shins and knees.”

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It Improves Endurance

No flat run feels easier than the first flat run after a hill session, and the overall endurance improvements you make will be clear next time you tackle a long race.

“By regularly running uphill, you’ll find returning to your previous flat runs comparatively easy,” says Reid.

“As the incline requires more effort and puts your muscles fibres to work, in time your overall running stamina and form will improve.”

It Increases Speed

Running both up and down hills helps strengthen the muscles in your legs so if you feel the need for speed, incline work can get you there.

“The extra workout to your leg muscles helps increase your running speed,” says Reid. “The same can be said for downhill running, which will build your quads. If it’s a personal best you are training for, add hill running intervals into your routine.”

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