What’s the big deal with sprints? We explore…
I get a lot of questions about sprinting workouts and where the fit into which sorts of fitness goals. Today, we’ll take a look at how to determine if sprinting can help boost your fitness level and the best workouts to help you reach that end.
Is Sprinting Right for My Goals?
One of the best ways to think about this question is to look at the Olympic athletes who best exemplify their respective running styles. If you are a person who is seeking a long slender frame, then distance running and other low impact cardio workouts might suit you better. If you look at most high-level sprinters, they look like body builders but faster.
Sprinting workouts or adding simply sprints to weight lifting workouts in an interval set up can boost the intensity of your workouts significantly. Sprinting studies also state that it’s much easier to burn belly fat verses slow jogging.In a bit, we’re take a closer look at the best ways to actually incorporate sprinting workouts into your fitness routine.
It Comes Down to Output
Part of the reason professional sprinters are so jacked is that a sprint in many ways is like lifting weights with many of your body’s muscle groups all at once. By forcing your body to create more force to propel itself faster, you are adding increased load on all of your muscles.
Think of it this way, if you’re trying to burn calories, sprinting burns more in less time. More than this, if you’re trying to look shredded, sprinting actually builds power and muscle size in addition to burning calories and leading to fat loss. If you want to increase muscularity and definition, sprinting will do much more for you than distance cardio.
When I say it comes down to output, what I mean is that sprinting workouts require your body to do more work in less time. We’re all here on this blog because we’re interested in optimizing our bodies through training. I think we can all appreciate efficiency and sprinting, especially interval workouts, are the best way to get the most work out of your muscles in the least amount of time—far more than distance cardio.
Sprinting, Intervals and After Burn
It is a well-proven fact that when you are working out at a lot higher intensity, your body will create an oxygen debt. Your body then needs to recover from this debt and this state is called as the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Some call this the after burn effect.
By driving your body into a state of after burn, you are effectively continuing to burn calories and fat, after your workout is complete. Sometimes, this effect has the potential to last for as long as 72 hours, even while you are asleep. This means that if you’re going to be working out at all, especially at high intensity, you absolutely must take your sleep and recovery seriously or you’re just wasting your time training.
Another reason that sprinting is always my pick over distance cardio is You need to make sure that your body manages to recover from this debt and it is the aerobic system which will be able to cover the debt. When you choose to sprint, you can get all these benefits padded into one.
advance. It is advised not to sprint with 100% effort, right at the very start. To get the most out of your training sessions, sprint at nearly 80% of the top speed.
Getting Down to Work
If you grew up playing sports, you’ve probably done some sprinting drills at one time or another. If not, don’t worry about it. When it comes down to it, a lot of the drills coaches use aren’t necessarily informed by the best use of fitness knowledge. One thing to keep in mind is that if you haven’t been doing any kind of high-intensity workouts or sprints for some time, keep it to about 80% intensity for your first few workouts—feel free to scale down those detailed below.
The following workouts are just some ideas to get you moving in different directions. The key is to push yourself intensely for short bursts, catch your breath and get back after it. Between sets, tilt your head back to open up your airway and pump oxygen into your body. Don’t rest so long that your heart rate goes back down.
King of the Hill
Regardless of whether you are just beginning or you are a seasoned vet, you should definitely try hill sprints. Gravity adds additional stress on your muscles and it’s almost like running with weights on. This will force you to be efficient in your strides and use of energy.
When it comes to hill sprints, you’re going to have to be your own judge and adjust your repetitions by the intensity of the hill. Remember to use a hill that does not require you to slow down significantly to complete a rep. Use a hill just small enough that it allows you to maintain a consistent speed and intensity from bottom to top.
When you slow down you work different energy systems and will veer towards aerobic training as opposed to anaerobic, the general focus of sprint training.
This refers to a workout where you put in an 80% maximum sprinting effort for 30m and then jog or walk 10m. When you’re just starting out, use a sprinting distance of 10m and you build up to 80% max. Try two rounds of 10 reps (1 rep = 30 sprint / 10 jog).
You can build up your distance but cap it around 100m so that you are maintaining an intense sprint for the whole time. Use the walk to fill up on oxygen and keep your muscles limber.
Corners And Straightaway
This is an interval workout where you sprint for 100m and then keep on walking without stopping for another 100 m followed. When you are on a 400m track, you should make it a point to sprint on the corner and then when it comes to straightaways, you should walk. You also have the option of switching both these styles as well.
You will need an open area and as always make sure to warm up. After that, you should sprint for a minute or followed by a jog for the next 2 minutes. Obviously your sprint won’t be at 100% for the full minute. Push yourself hard for a minute and then think of the jog as your rest. If you can do this for 3 rounds, you’re doing well.
This is one of the favored sprinting workouts of those who like balance between distance cardio and high intensity.
With any workout whether it’s on the track or in the gym, I can’t stress enough how important it is to warm up. This importance is only compounded when you’re talking about getting into high-intensity training. If you think sprinting is lower risk because it’s just running, think again. Sprinting causes huge demands on your body and if your muscles aren’t loose and warm, you’re opening yourself up to major injury.
If you want to reach your fitness goals, don’t sideline yourself by ignoring a healthy warm-up activity before sprinting workouts.
Ease Up on the Gas and Refuel
For some this might go without saying, but it’s always good to jog out of your sprints. Slow your body down gradually and let your momentum naturally subside. A lot of Achilles’ injuries happen at the end of a sprint. Remember, ease off the gas then engage the breaks, don’t just hit the emergency break.
When you finish a workout of sprinting intervals it’s also good to jog slowly, take a leisurely lap and bring your heart rate down.
Lastly, when you finish sprint workouts, you should refuel your body just the same way as you do after lifting weights. You’re working your muscles hard and you need to get plenty of water, sleep and nutrition if you want to maximize your gains from sprinting workouts. Make sure to refuel your body with a balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Get your sleep or your muscles won’t grow, simple as that.
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