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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

Short and sweet, but effective! Try this intense 20-minute hill sprint and core workout

Stuck for time? Irish international and Cork football star Saoirse Noonan talks you through an alternative training session.

AS I’VE DISCUSSED at length before, most of my training is done as part of a team.

I really enjoy doing my own sessions in the gym, and going out for longer runs but it comes down to time — or lack of it — at the end of the day.

Cork v Galway - All Ireland Ladies Football Minor A Championship Final In action with Cork. Source: Eóin Noonan/SPORTSFILE

With Cork City, we train three times a week between the pitch and team gym sessions, while we’re also out three times with the Cork footballers so that leaves me with very limited time to do my own thing.

I have a big interest in fitness so it is nice when I get to focus on that myself, but the problem is fitting it into my schedule. It’d normally only be during the off-season that I can do it regularly, or as often as I’d like to.

But today I’m going to share a straightforward workout I’d do when possible. Say you’re stuck for time and have no equipment, here’s a quick 20-minute session that’ll tick all the boxes and keep you ticking over nicely.

All you need to do first is find a hill.

It’s ideal because there’s a huge one near my house so I’d throw on my runners and set out for that. A quick jog around the house and a few static stretches of the hamstrings, quads, calves and groins before I leave, and then it’s down to business.

shutterstock_267163643 Source: Shutterstock/Stasique

I’d sprint to the hill, it takes about a minute to get there. Not 100%, 3/4 pace or so to make sure I’m ready to bust myself when it comes to it.

So, the sprint up the hill is about 60m, and I’d do it ten times — as fast as I possibly can.

Once I get to the top then, it’s a slow jog down — go as slow as you want and take your recovery, but keep moving — and then I’d do some form of core exercise back on the flat ground before sprinting up the hill again.

So for example:

  • 60m hill sprint (followed by light jog to base)
  • Planks
  • 60m hill sprint (followed by light jog to base)
  • Sit-ups
  • 60m hill sprint (followed by light jog to base)
  • Bicycle crunches
  • 60m hill sprint (followed by light jog to base)
  • Russian twists
  • 60m hill sprint (followed by light jog to base)

(and so on)

So a really, really intense, quick workout on the hill and then I’d sprint home as a final blow-out. Here’s a closer look at the core part of the session:


Planks are pretty much the go-to for core exercises, and I’m sure if you’re reading this you’re well aware of what needs to be done.

plank Source: Shutterstock.

The main thing to remember with the front plank is to keep your shoulders, hips and knees in a straight line as you balance on your elbows and toes.

Hold that for 30 seconds, and from there move on to side planks on your left and right for 30 seconds each. So one minute, 30 seconds in total of plank work.


Here’s a full article (and video below) to make sure you’re doing them right if you need to double-check, but a fairly straightforward one here for one minute.


Bicycle crunches 

Another great one for building abdominal muscle.


Russian twists

Best done with a weight or medicine ball, but no problem if you don’t have any. Balance yourself in position with your legs and back raised off the ground, then twist over and back, either side of your hips as below.

rusians Source: Greatist

One things for sure — it’s a short and sweet session, but you’d be fairly wrecked after it.


Things have been going pretty well for myself these days. I’m still training away flat out between Cork City and the Cork senior footballers, and I’ve been finding it easier to balance both sports.

My two managers are very understanding and have no issues with me doing both so it all works out. On Friday nights actually, both squads train in CIT so it’s really convenient. It’s two sessions in-a-row which makes for a long evening but I come home buzzing because I get to do the whole lot.

This weekend is the only of the summer that matches clash, but we realised that well in advance so all is sorted. We’re out against Monaghan in our All-Ireland senior championship opener in Birr on Saturday so all guns blazing for that.

And after the Munster final last month, we can’t wait to get going again.

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