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PRMC – Are hill sprints essential?

Sean Lerwill in action with the Royal Marines

I recently received a question about hill sprints from someone training for their PRMC. They asked why the programme in my Pass The PRMC ebook didn’t contain any hill sprints, as they had been told these are very important to utilise during pre-PRMC training.

The simple answer is that I want people to be able to follow the programme as easily as possible to enable them to get a pass. The programme in my ebook revolves around Gainers for press-ups and pull-ups, and general LISS and HIIT running training to improve running ability. The idea being that these training aids are specific for the specific tests for passing a PRMC and that anyone should be able to train these elements without needing a gym, running track or hill. Having said that, there are advised swimming sessions in my ebook (which obviously require a pool), but these aren’t necessarily a “must” as the swimming on PRMC is not a pass/fail criteria.

In my ebook there are a number of HIIT (high intensity interval training) sessions to get you ready for the bleep test and the mile and a half best effort. To perform these interval sessions is easy: step out onto the street and use the pavement somewhere relatively quiet, use the local park or sports pitch or use a treadmill in a gym. Anyone should be able to do these. They are paramount to success at the PRMC so must be performed religiously by anyone who wants to succeed.

Hill sprints are a great training tool. I use them myself to this day. However, the reason I didn’t make every other session a hill sprint session was two fold:

  1. Apart from a couple of areas on the endurance course, assault course and any warm-up drills of the bottom field element of the course, there are no real “hill sprint” elements to the PRMC. Having said that, each PRMC instructor has their own methods and there are always hills/mounds around for use if necessary.
  2. I want someone training for the PRMC to be able to make training happen. If you have to jog/walk/drive/cycle to the nearest hill, then perform the sprints and then come back, that is going to take time and be more difficult before or after college/work. Unfortunately human beings (until they have passed RM training) like to find the easiest way to make things happen, or they are just less likely to happen. If you can simply step out onto the street and sprint between two lampposts, that really can happen anywhere.

To summarise, hill sprints are an effective training tool. If you can add them into your training they will certainly help improve your cardiovascular fitness and make you more functional at moving up hill quicker, which may well help improve you overall PRMC chances. However, if you perform all the CV elements of the training programme in my ebook, even without performing a single set of hill sprints, I don’t think you’ll have a problem with any part of the PRMC from a CV point of view.

The answer then is up to you. You could perform one of the HIIT sessions a week up hill instead of on the flat so you get used to running/sprinting up a gradient. There certainly wouldn’t be any harm in doing that. If you live in the Highlands or Brecon or next to Glastonbury tour, then do your HIIT up a hill just because you can. However, if you live in central London and the closest thing you have to a hill is the escalator at Angel station thendon’t worry about it and stick with what the ebook advises. Train hard and with purpose and you’ll be fine.

Sean Lerwill - Author

Sean is an former-Royal Marines Commando Officer & Physical Training Instructor. He has been published as a writer five times, has a BSc in Molecular Genetics and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He is also a Maximuscle ambassador.

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