This workout gives you the best bang for your buck as just about anything else out there.
As an added bonus, you can do this workout on your outdoor or indoor bike, or while walking, jogging or running. It's super flexible, and this format of hill training is a staple in my arsenal of workouts for my clients (and myself)!
If you're new to exercise, go ahead and give it a try. I've given you an easy 1 minute hill effort with a 1 minute recovery. If you feel good, go ahead and increase your duration to a 2 minute hill and a 1 minute recovery, but just complete one set. As you get fitter and stronger, you can move to the intermediate workout, and complete two sets of a 2 minute hill followed by a 1 minute recovery. Again, if you're comfortable with that workout, just increase the duration of your hill repeat to 3 minutes, but complete only two sets. Finally, after a few weeks of consistent training, you should be able to tackle the advanced workout.
The beauty of this workout is that it is perfect as it is, for the individual seeking improvements in their fitness. If you're training for competition, you can adapt this workout to the event distance. For instance, if you're training for a 5K or 10K, the workout should be fine as is. If you're training for a half-marathon, where you're going to be running for about two hours, you may want to adjust your hill repeats upwards of 5-10 minutes. Unless you have a big long hill nearby, you may want to do this on a treadmill and set a desired % incline.
For cyclists, there's an amazing ride called the Assault on Mount Mitchell, where the last 35 miles is straight up for 3-5 hours. To accomplish your training for this ride, you could increase the duration of your hill repeats to 20-30 minutes and complete anywhere from 3-10 repeats, depending on whether you are riding indoors or outdoors, how much time you have available to train, and your motivation. Let's face it, riding an indoor bike for 3 hours can be excruciating and boring, so probably best to ride a century on a hilly course outdoors somewhere.
Good luck, have fun and train for hills!
Kathy is an accomplished Ironman triathlete, marathoner and age group champion in cycling road race, and is available for coaching you for your goal or next event. Check out Kathy's Healthy Active Living Coaching options for health, fitness and sports performance at 365fitt.com.