“ The times call for courage. The times call for hard work. But if the demands are high, it is because the stakes are even higher”
Sometimes the most effective strategies are the least used. I’d go as far as to say that most of the time, people avoid the most effective strategies, often because of 3 factors:
Difficulty: The most effective strategy is too hard. It requires too much effort at once or is too hard. People would rather put in a moderate to low amount of effort over a much longer period of time, often for less results. People don’t like getting out of their comfort zone.
Time: The most effective strategy either takes too long for their comfort zone, or it’s too short. People are conditioned to believe that the biggest rewards require long amounts of time, so not only do they avoid long periods of time because of difficulty, but also short effective work because of the absurdity.
Unorthodox: The most effective strategy often takes a route that people aren’t used to. It often requires that people alter their mindset; it requires that someone stands out and becomes unique.
[Looks like the perfect environment for sprint training]
Sprint Exercise will activate each of the above 3 avoidance factors, and it is worth it. A Sprint Workout is difficult. It requires a good amount of effort in an all out burst across a field or on some exercise machine.
Sprint Training takes a short amount of time to be effective.You’re not going to be spending the 60-90 minutes you might usually be spending on steady state cardio. Sprinting only takes a few short sprints to become effective.
Sprint Exercise is unorthodox. If you’re working on a treadmill, everyone’s going to be monitoring their heart rates to make sure they are in the right zone for fat burning. You’re either going to be activating every cell in your body to work hard, or resting while breathing as hard as you can. But your results will also be unorthodox. You’ll get better results faster than any other steady-state gym-goer at the gym.
Why A Sprint Workout is Superior to marathon cardio and chronic cardio: Chronic cardio, or you running on the treadmill or riding the bike for 60-90 minutes or some other set period of time is effective to a certain extent. But the drawback might be just enough to stop doing it. Ever wonder how a marathon runner loses so much muscle when they’re training the most? Ever wonder why you get so sick when you are apparently so healthy?
The consistent resistance produced by training releases a constant stream of cortisol, the stress hormone, which in excess, has some nasty effects such as muscle wasting and fat gain. Additionally, this can damage your immune system which will bring a heap of sickness along, disabling further, especially from a routine that requires constant and long exercise to maintain results.
The difference with sprint exercise, which can be done with bodyweight exercises, bikes and/or running, is that cortisol is only released during periods of work. Sprint training incorporates periods of work and rest until a sufficient workout is achieved. This is a much better situation than created by steady state cardio from a biological standpoint.
Sprints aren’t the only way to avoid cortisol and achieve the benefits of this type of training.Programs like Turbulence Training utilizes bodyweight exercises and sprints to help plenty of people burn fat. If you want more information on the how and why, check it out.
Benefits of Sprint Training:
Sprint training achieves fat loss through its metabolic effects. Following activity like sprint training, what is known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, forces the body to burn calories. That’s just another way of saying that post sprint training, you’re utilizing fuel, and with the right internal environment, that fuel can be fat.
Additionally, exercise, especially high intensity exercise, is know to increase insulin sensitivity. That means that the food you eat has a higher chance of being used to build muscle and for useful body functions rather than just being stored as fat.
In addition (again!) sprint training is a great way to build muscle, especially in the gluts (for you ladies), hamstring and lower body. Muscle has another host of benefits, notably burning more calories. Sprint training utilizes muscles that many avoid to activate, and instead donate their attention to the more anterior (front-side) muscles that are seen in the mirror, regardless of the probably imbalance. This is another reason to start slow, and work with someone who knows proper sprint form and how to exercise a beginner differently from an expert. Sprinting for long periods of time with poor form is NOT a good way to get rid of some fat.
The most important part, sprinting form:
I always like to emphasize form. Increasing intensity without focusing on form is a great way to get an injury, which is why programs, like Turbulence Training, that show you how to exercise are so important. Sprinting form is especially important since their is a lack of people doing it, meaning the knowledge in this area is quite low and not often described in the mainstream fitness magazines, which continue to push people towards carbohydrate centered diets and routines that require less than 20 hours of work a week.
A little advice, if you feel your hamstrings get a little tight or feel weird at any point in time, stop. This is a sign from your body and it shouldn’t be taken lightly, even if it’s just after one sprint, you’ve done enough work. You can work up to more over time, and it’s great knowing you’re avoiding an injury.
Additionally, if you do some reading on sprints, you’ll find that when using sprints, sprinting uphill is a solid way to minimize injury. Sprinting on flat ground increases the chances of injury, and you can get the same, if not better, results with uphill sprints.
Check out the above link or a trusted source for more info on sprint form. Remember, this is the most important part for not only building more muscle, but also ensuring you can stay consistent with your workouts.
Methodology of Sprint Exercise:
I usually partake in uphill sprints to minimize injury, but when I do flat ground sprints, this is how it usually goes:
- Warm-up with various bodyweight exercises (such as air squat, lunge)
- Complete 1-3 50 yard runs
- Sprint 100 Yards and then rest 60-90 seconds
- Repeat 100 yard sprint with rest 3 times
- Move onto 150 yard sprints with same rest
- Repeat 150 yard sprint 3-5 times
- Cool down jog or walk
Now, this will obviously have to be edited to be more or less intense depending on your ability to use proper form and conditioning. I also use this form with bodyweight training and weights if I feel up to it. Like I mentioned above, work your way up, not down. Doing a warm-up and just 1 sprint is much better than 9 sprints and a hamstring that will bother you for weeks.
The key is to keep good form while alternating periods of intense work with sufficient rest.
Fitness Black Book has a great article on sprint training to help you build your own workout. You can see it here.
That’s all for today, I sincerely think if you can incorporate a sprint workout into your routine, you’re going to see that the work you put in pays off very well.