Head for the Hills!

by Mackenzie M. | February 21st, 2013 | Cardio, Outdoor

hillAs part of my weekly exercise routine, I head to the Mississippi River Levee system that encloses the New Orleans area from the lakes, rivers, and bayous that border the city. These steep levees make for a great tool for cardio workouts outdoors. For example, lunges, sprints, and even stretches up the side of the levee are met with great resistance.

This resistance provides for an intense and effective cardio workout. As not many cities are surrounded by these convenient levees, athletes anywhere can utilize hills or other natural steep inclines as part of their weekly workout routine.

To start out my levee workout, I ride a bike two miles from my home up the steep crest of the levee. Then I follow the bike road on top of the levee for a few miles along the edge of the river. This is very effective as both a cardio workout and as a leg workout. Once on top of the hill, park your bike or your car, and get ready for the workout with multiple stretches. I usually start off the workout with a couple of sets of lunges up and down the levee. At about twenty feet down and twenty feet back up, the levee is the perfect place to do intense and effective lunges. This not only builds up the legs and glutes, but by the end of a few reps, you will be panting from the cardio workout.

For runners, just as if running up and down stairs, begin at the top of the hill and take a careful walk down. Watch carefully over your ankles, as they can roll quite easily on hills. Once at the bottom, sprint to the top. Repeat this several times; this is an incredibly effective cardio exercise.

To disperse the stress of the intense exercises, it is helpful to take a break by walking or jogging along the top of the hill. This space between the intense cardio workouts is proven to burn more fat and have a greater effect on the body. After ten minutes of walking or jogging, stop at a new place along the hill, and repeat some of the exercises that utilize the side of the hill.

At the end, simply ride the bike home. Be prepared for this ride to burn, however. The cardio exercises on the hill are quite intense and will leave your legs and core sore after the first few occasions.

Training using levees or hills can be very helpful when trying to build up cardio strength for marathons or other long races. Think about the incline settings available on some treadmills. Why use these when you can get out and enjoy the warm spring breezes on a real incline? Combined with healthy eating and devoted repetition of these exercises, these are a great way to lose weight and gain cardio capacity. This season, be sure to head to the hills and take advantage of inclining cardio workouts.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.