While many women opt for a half-hour elliptical workout or go for a light jog when looking to tone and lose weight, this may not be the best use of your training time. Steady-state cardio is ineffective, and the so-called fat-burning zone doesn't exist, according to Rachel Cosgrove, author of "The Female Body Breakthrough." Ramp up your training intensity and see faster results by switching to sprint training.
Warm up thoroughly for five to 10 minutes prior to starting your sprint workout. Perform some fast walking and steady jogging, with high knees and butt kicks thrown in. Perform dynamic movements such as squats, lunges and arm swings and add in stretches for any tight muscle groups, such as your hip flexors and calves.
Sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds. Increase this to 60 seconds for your second sprint, followed by 60 seconds of recovery. Take this up to two minutes of each, then four minutes of each. If your fitness levels allow, come back down in reverse order, advises exercise physiologist Jason Karp in "Shape Magazine." Your speed should be quickest in the short rounds, and slower in the two- and four-minute rounds, but the intensity should remain high throughout.
Perform your sprints twice a week, leaving at least two days of rest between each session. Ideally, you should do these sessions outside on a running track, though you can switch to a treadmill if outdoor training isn't an option.
Swap the track or treadmill for a hill if you really want an intense challenge, advises strength coach Nia Shanks. Hill sprints are much harder than running on the flat, so you may wish to change the training protocol slightly. Sprint up the hill for 40 to 80 yards, then walk back down and repeat six to 10 times.
- Ask a qualified athletics coach or trainer to check your sprinting technique when you start your program. For optimal results, combine sprinting with a calorie-controlled diet and a resistance routine.
- Consult your doctor before embarking on a sprint training program.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.