Workout of the Week: Hills for Breakfast

Build your run-specific strength and power with this hills session from Olympian and elite coach Ryan Bolton.

dynamic running uphill on trail male athlete runner side view
Photo: Shutterstock

This week’s Workout of the Week comes from Olympian and coach Ryan Bolton, who works with a number of elite triathletes and runners. It’s a fun and dynamic hill workout designed to build aerobic capacity as well as run-specific strength and power.

Bolton said: “This is a fun hill workout that’ll keep you on your toes, literally and figuratively. The longer repeats at the beginning of the pyramid should be done in slightly lower zones, but are still strong efforts. As you ascend the pyramid to the shorter intervals, the repeats get more power focused with higher heart rates. Then, you descend back down the pyramid as the intervals get longer and efforts get progressively lighter, but not easy.”

Note that Bolton uses a seven-zone training model.

He added: “It’s important to pay close attention to your zones on each interval and make sure you let your heart rate drop as you come back down the pyramid.”

The total workout time is 70 minutes. If you’re looking to shorten it you can drop the first and last five-minute intervals.

Workout of the Week: Hills for Breakfast


15 min. building to high Z2

Main set:

Do on a 4% to 6% grade hill

5 min. @ high Z3, 2 min. easy (on 2% grade or a downhill, get HR to Z1-2)
4 min. @ low Z4, 2 min. easy
3 min. @ mid Z4, 2 min. easy
2 min. @ high  Z4, 2 min. easy
1 min. @ Z5, 2 min. easy
2 min. @ high Z4, 2 min. easy
3 min. @ mid Z4, 2 min. easy
4 min. @ low Z4, 2 min. easy
5 min. @ high Z3


10 min. @ Z1

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