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Book review: Hillfit – Strength

Written by Fiona February 14 2012

I have never been a big fan of the gym. I’ve also tried numerous fitness gadgets at home but inevitably thrown them to the back of a cupboard, or sold them on eBay. I like straightforward training programmes that use the most basic of tools and do not require me to remember too many sequences and formats. Perhaps I’m a bit dim, but I like things to be simple. And this is exactly what Chris Highcock is suggesting in his new downloadable book Hillfit: Strength.

There is no secret to his type of training. He simply advocates using basic strength training techniques in the comfort of your own home… using mostly your own body weight, or the odd towel or door frame as extras… to become fitter for hill walking (and running and pretty much any sport).

Chris seems to know his stuff and his knowledge of sports physiology is as good as I’ve read, especially as he says it in a “it does what it says on the tin” kind of way. It’s easily understandable, even to someone like me who doesn’t know masses about the human body. The other great advantage of his simple strength-conditioning programme is that it fits into just two 15-minute slots per week.

How brilliant! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started out on a new training regime, determined to do a daily 20-minute strength session, only to give up after the first dull and repetitive week.

So Chris reckons that 15 minutes of simple strength training twice a week will create stronger, more efficient muscles that will lead to far better and more enjoyable days walking in the hills.

The oh-so-simple Hillfit Programme

Basic equipment required includes: Your bodyweight, a towel, a door and occasionally a rucksack and a few bottles of water.

The aim is just ONE (yes one!) set of each exercise following Chris’s guidelines – close, controlled and concentrated – and for a total of only 15 minutes. Twice in a week. Five basic patterns – two upper body (pushing and pulling), two lower body (squatting and hip-hinging), and one whole body (running/hiking) add up to a programme that can be done indoors in your own home without any shop-bought equipment – and all with the aim of building strength step by step.

I didn’t see any exercises that were new or took me by surprise. They are the usual kind of wall-sits, planks, squats and lunges. Adding in the weighted rucksack adds extra weight as you become stronger. It’s as simple as that!

The most ingenious part of the programme was utilising an ordinary towel and door to create a “modified row” exercise.

Anything else to learn from HillFit book?

Static stretching gets booted up the backside. Chris doesn’t rate it for helping to stretch out muscles. Fair enough… That’s his opinion, although I do find that static stretches after a run help my body a great deal.

He also reveals the link between hormones and their affect on hunger and fat loss, some interesting stuff about bone density and  some evidence-based strength training.

But the main emphasis of the book – and something I wholly agree with – is that exercise itself is not the point. Living and enjoying life are the point… and exercise is your biggest aid to this goal.

To download the book costs £10. More details at

* I was sent a free download of the book for review purposes.



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