Vertical Training: What And How To Incorporate It

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Vertical training means running uphill to become a strong and fast runner. Vertical Training: What And How To Incorporate It

Running in itself is a self-explanatory exercise, but there are many different workouts to do. This includes sprints, fartleks, interval training, and vertical training.

While many know to hit the track for sprint work and Google then giggle to fartleks, many might not know what the community means when they refer to vertical training.

What Is Vertical Training And Why Is It Important?

Vertical training is runs and other workouts that include an ascension. This could be in real life or a simulated climb.

Think running hills, hiking up a mountain, using the stair master or inclines on a treadmill or elliptical.

Even though running hills is a form of vertical training, depending on the ascension it could still be considered horizontal training.

Horizontal training refers to workouts that are done on horizontal terrain when it comes to elevation. But this also includes small inclines, which is why running, stationary bike, walking, and even rowing are forms of horizontal training.

Vertical training is important for runners for multiple reasons.

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For starters, it helps to avoid injury. Vertical training helps to strengthen the leg muscles. It also helps to promote better running form by forcing the runner to land mid-foot.

It also burns more calorie and increases speed—which is seen when going back to flat roads.

Vertical training is also important for those looking to compete in any kind of race that does not have a flat course.

If a race has hills, vertical training is a must. The body has to be ready to handle the elevation, which requires endurance to ascend and knowing how to use the desecration to gain back from speed.

So expect an increase in heart rate. This also requires conditioning of the lungs to continue to keep up steady breaths.

Vertical Training Workouts


It’s important to incorporate running hills at least once a week. But for beginners who are used to flatlands, start with once every two weeks. Build up that endurance and then increase this to once every one to two weeks.

All the runner needs to fins route with a hill, or find stairs to climb up at a local park. Find a trail that accent or if all else fails, start using inclines on the treadmill.

Vertical training runs is all about working up to that endurance. The overall goal is to be able to run a hilly route without feeling like dying.

Just like training for any long-distance race, think of this too as a new training plan.

On those hilly runs, focus on conserving as much as energy as possible. Don’t sprint up the hill to stay on pace (unless the runner is doing hill intervals).

Instead, slow down the pace to not waste energy and then use the downhill to make up for the lost time.

Make sure to pump those arms and dig into the core when climbing hills. Shorten stride, which also is an efficiency move. Taking wide steps only makes the bodywork harder.

Also, make sure to look up with a straight back. Continue to practice good form with chest out to not limit breathing.

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Strength And Cross Training For Vertical Training

To master vertical training, runners need to build up their calf muscles and quad muscles. This is why it’s important to cross-train.

Focusing on lower body exercises like calf raises, deadlifts, and squats are all key.

Get to those weights at the gym, take a powerlifting class, try CrossFit, or even take a spin class.

While it’s also important to cross-train to work out other muscles, plyometrics does wonders for runners who are vertical training.

Plyometrics are exercises that require the athlete to use as much as force as possible as fast as they can. Think explosive movements. This builds fast-twitch muscle fibers to be able to then power up hills with ease.

Plyometric moves include box jumps, skaters, high knees, mountain climbers and power lunges.

Aim to get at least once HIIT workout in a week.

Treadmill Runs

If there are no courses with gently rolling hills or a massive hill for repeats nearby, the runner is left needing to hit the treadmill.

The good news is that playing around with inline helps to make the miles go faster and keep things interesting while stuck stationery.

Set the incline to 15% and keep a steady pace for throughout a run, descending and ascending again during each mile.

There is also the option to run or even walk at the 15% incline for a quarter of a mile, the put the incline back down and run the rest of the mile. Then repeat.

The real downside is to vertical training on the treadmill is not being able to practice downhill.

The Importance of The Downhill

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Just as important is being able to ascend when running is descending as well.

Going downhill puts a lot for the quadriceps. These muscles are taking the brut of the impact and absorbing the shock.

This is why those squats and deadlifts are important.

So is running downhill and learning the control it takes.

Other Ways To Vertical Train

Those who dread the treadmill can still get in vertical training without being near hills.

This is a good time to use the elliptical with intervals or even the Stairmaster, but the gym isn’t the only place to go.

All the runner needs is a good set of stairs. Go to a local football stadium at a high school or a track with bleachers.

Another option to choose a route that includes crossing a bridge for elevation or use a parking garage for its up and downhills. Getting creative in vertical training workouts also add an extra element of fun.