Most would say that to develop muscle you have to lift weights. But one alternative that most women neglect is sprinting. Not only does sprinting give you an outstanding cardiovascular workout and a feel-good endorphin rush, it also involves rapid lower body contractions that build muscle. Specifically, sprinting develops the glutes.
When you refer to your glutes, you are usually talking about the largest of the three gluteus muscles, the gluteus maximus. This muscle's sprinting-related responsibility is hip extension. Hip extension involves moving your femur, or thigh bone, backwards. ExRx.net lists glute inflexibility as one of many causes of back pain. When you pull your knee towards your chest, eventually the glute runs out of room to lengthen. When that happens, the lower back will flex. This is fine in most cases, but if this happens in a weighted position, for example when doing squats, injury is possible. This lack of flexibility also hampers sprinting ability.
Sprints and Glutes
Sprinting is an intense workout for your lower body. Obi Obadike, a personal trainer and former sprinter, writes that if you're looking to strengthen your legs and glutes, sprinting can be a great alternative to weightlifting. When you sprint, your glutes are contracting every time you push off your foot. These repeated contractions are pushing your own body weight, which makes it a form of resistance training. The results are stronger and better developed muscles. On top of this, sprinting burns a "boat load of calories" according to strength and conditioning coach Charles Staley and Keats Snideman, Technical Content Director for Staley Training Systems. This extra calorie burn will give you the lean lower body that you're looking for.
Sprinting is a great outdoor workout. High-intensity interval training is one method that personal trainers will use to organize sprint workouts. Pete McCall, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, says HIIT involves short bouts of high intensity work mixed with lower-intensity active recovery periods. For a glute-developing HIIT workout, go to a track or field and do a thorough warm up. After the warm up, sprint for 20 seconds. Walk back to the starting point, wait to catch your breath and repeat for five or six repetitions. Progressively add distance and sprints as your fitness level improves.
Before beginning a sprint program, get medical clearance from your doctor. Stop if anything hurts or if you feel dizzy during the sprinting. Before running, do a full warm up and check the field or track for debris so you don't twist an ankle. Hydrate before and during the workout with water or a sports drink. When the workout is over, cool down for five minutes with stretching and walking. Workout with a personal trainer or strength and conditioning professional for a customized workout.
- ACE: What is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and what are the benefits?
- Bodybuilding.com: Sprint Training Builds Legs, Glutes, Abs, And Burns Fat... Fast!
- Bodybuilding.com: Why Hill Sprints Are The Fastest Way Of Getting Strong, Fast, And Lean.
- ExRx.net: Gluteus Maximus
- ExRx.net: Common Orthopedic Inflexibilities
Carl Galloway is a strength-and-conditioning coach at a high school in Southern California. He is certified as an Olympic lifting coach through USA Weightlifting and as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Galloway holds a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and a master's degree in coaching and athletic administration.