By Jenna Anderson
With summer here for what seems like only a short time, the idea of having to spend any time inside for a workout is horrifying. If you’re active, then you might already be outside biking, hiking, or trail running. If you’re already out, who wants to head back inside a gym for another hour while you lift weights? Yes, cross training has proven benefits for every activity, but, let’s face it, when the sun is out in the Flathead Valley, it means we need to be outside enjoying it.

This issue, I’ve made it my mission to get you an outdoor workout that will whip your glutes and legs into shape, but also leave you feeling strong. All with one super ingredient you can find in abundance around the area: a hill.

Now, before I get to the excitement of the workout, I just want to drop a quick reminder. Make sure you get over to the Inner Power Training Facebook Page and find the Fit Flathead Spring Event and join up. It started in May. Here you can tell me what is and isn’t working for you, and you can post pictures of your workout. I can answer questions, and you’ll get some great links to articles, recipes, and even personal training specials. Let’s make this the healthiest year yet. With all that said, on to the fun stuff … hill workouts.

You’re going to start with a warm-up of your choice, whether this is power walking or jogging to your hill, biking, 5 minutes of jumping rope, or another form of calisthenics. I prefer a walk out to the hill and some active stretching and bodyweight movements (jumping jacks, standing straddle reaches, high knees, etc.) to get ready for hill work.

POWER SPRINTS Start at the bottom and charge up the hill. Knees tracking forward, make sure you’re pushing all the way through the glute, and exaggerate your arm swing. Really think about driving the knee up and forward. Push with the ball of the back foot and pull with the ball of the front foot. Maximum intensity. At the top, walk back down at a brisk pace to recover. Repeat 3x. After the third, take a 2-minute recovery.

FROG JUMPS Yep, this is just what it sounds like. You’re going to do jump squats up the hill. Now, make sure you’re jumping from the bottom of the squat, pushing through your toes, pulling your knees forward, and landing soft. This doesn’t have to be a huge forward leap. What you’re focused on is power from the hips and glutes, making sure you’re bending your knees to 45 degrees or more for full power. When you make it to the top, jog back down easy for recovery. Repeat 2-3x. After the last round, take 2 minutes to recover.

WALKING LUNGES When working on a walking lunge uphill, it’s about balance and strength. Keep in mind that you still need to get the hip crease of the front leg to at least 90 degrees with each lunge, with your hand behind your head and keeping the back long and slightly hinged forward. The more upright your torso, the more your lunge effects the hamstring and quad, and the more forward incline of the body, the more glute you’ll activate. On your rear leg, make sure you’re coming all the way to the top of the lunge and driving forward with the glute. At the top, walk back down to recover. Repeat 3x. After the last round, take a 2-minute recovery.

HIGH KNEES For it to be a high knee, the knee has to come past the hip crease. You’ll lean slightly forward on this, making sure your core is engaged to help lift the knee. Take small, fast, high steps up the hill. Walk backward down. Repeat 4x. Take 2 minutes to catch your breath.

SUPER SLOW SLIDE SHUFFLE You’re going to turn as though doing a side squat, stepping your right leg up the hill and staying low in your squat, then shifting your weight. Pull with the right leg and push with the left. Keep an eye on your knees – they should always be behind your toes as you climb sideways up the hill. Keep your hands stretched out in front of you, and chest high. At the top, jog back down. Switch lead legs and start again. Do this 2x on each leg. Take 2 minutes to recover.

CLIMBING SKI JUMP When skiing, you go side to side coming down the hill. This time, you’re going to go side to side up the hill. Now, these aren’t deep squats like the frog jumps. Instead, these are smaller and faster, more toe push. Have a little bend in the knees. Jump forward and to your right. Then put a little bend in the knees and jump forward to your left. All the way up. Easy jog backward down. Repeat 4x.

Phew! At this point, you should have a great burn in your legs and glutes. If you want to make it a full body workout, then just add push-ups, crunches, shoulder taps, up-downs, and lying back extensions in place of the 2-minute recovery.

Jenna is a trainer and competitive physique athlete with a passion for yoga. She also offers personal training. Contact her at www.innerpowertraining.com.