Ever since the escalator was introduced in 1896, fit folks have been grumbling, stuck behind those who embrace moving stairs as the perfect excuse to, well, stop moving. Don’t they know that every incline is an opportunity to incinerate a few extra calories and power up your cardiovascular system?
It stands to reason that doing cardio on an incline is more physically challenging. In fact, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, each 1 percent increase in grade will burn as much as 12 percent more calories per mile. Running uphill was shown to activate 9 percent more muscle in your lower body than running on a level surface, and, according to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, incline treadmill training can help improve running economy — specifically VO2 max (maximum oxygen uptake) and blood lactate response to long-distance running.
These high-intensity incline cardio workouts include indoor and outdoor options and range from hill sprints to cycling climbs to a dastardly device called the Jacob’s ladder. These programs will pump up your fitness level so much that you might even consider riding the escalator yourself for a change.
The extra effort needed to pedal uphill is a body-fat incinerator. “The most fun and enjoyable way to train on a bike is to vary your speed and effort throughout the ride,” says Samantha Clayton, certified trainer, former Olympian and vice president of Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness for Herbalife. “These 30-minute sessions will get your heart rate up and work your lower body.”
Training Tip: Adjust your interval times depending on the size of your hills. You can also use a really long hill, riding up it to the 60-second mark, then going back down.
Ride Like a Pro: “Sit back in the saddle to recruit the posterior chain muscles of the glutes and hamstrings more easily,” Clayton instructs.
Outdoor Cycling Workout
Duration: 30 minutes | Equipment: A road bike with gears
Instructions: Plan a route that includes hills, or use your gears to increase the resistance instead. Repeat this workout — excluding the warm-up — two times through.
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