Top-class sprinters and weightlifters both tend to be in excellent shape, with low levels of body fat, a high degree of muscle definition and sublime levels of fitness. Both sprinting and weightlifting can help you get in shape, lose pounds and tone up, and while neither is necessarily more effective than the other, they each have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Sprinting isn't just for sprinters. If you compete in the 100-, 200- or 400-meter events then it should definitely be the foundation of your training plan, but even if you're just a regular gym-goer or like playing sports and want to improve your performance, sprinting can be beneficial. It burns fat, increases testosterone levels, which further speeds up fat loss and ramps up your metabolism, builds strong legs and is incredibly time efficient, claims trainer Dennis Heenan, author of the "Get Ripped 24/7 Blueprint."
Weightlifting can either refer to Olympic weightlifting -- the snatch and the clean and jerk exercises -- or be used as a broad term to define any type of resistance training. If you're referring specifically to Olympic weightlifting, then it's an extremely effective method for increasing speed, strength and power. General weight training not only builds muscle mass but also boosts your metabolism, burns fat and increases your bone and joint strength, according to MayoClinic.com.
Vigorous weightlifting can burn up to 266 calories in half an hour, according to Harvard Medical School. While this may not seem like a huge number, weightlifting raises your metabolism so you carry on burning calories and fat at a higher rate after the session has finished, claims Dr. Len Kravtiz of the University of New Mexico. Sprinting can be classified as high-intensity interval training -- shorts bursts of very high intensity exercise broken up by longer periods of rest. Interval training is far more effective for fat loss and muscle gain than steady-state cardio, according to bodybuilding and nutritionist Dr. Layne Norton.
Instead of choosing either sprints or weightlifting, why not choose both? There's no reason you have to stick exclusively to one; getting stronger can also make you quicker and vice versa. Set up your training week so you have two to three full-body weightlifting sessions based around free-weight lifts such as squats, lunges, presses and rows and two or three sprint sessions covering a variety of distances, from short 20-meter shuttles to longer 200- or 400-meter sprints.
- Body Fit Formula: Why Should I Sprint?
- Mayo Clinic: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Dr. Len Kravitz: Resistance Training and EPOC
- Simply Shredded: The Nutritional Scientist: IFPA Pro Dr. Layne Norton Talks With Simplyshredded.com
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.