Sprinting can help you burn calories to build a strong, lean body. If your fitness goals involve gaining or preserving lean muscle mass, then spending hours slaving away on cardio machines may be counterproductive. While it is effective for weight loss, aerobic endurance training can also catabolize lean muscle tissue. Sprinting offers many of the benefits of aerobic training without the muscle-wasting effects, and there are several different techniques that can be employed for sprint workouts.
Benefits of Sprinting
Sprinting requires the body to work very hard for short periods of time. A challenging sprint workout can be as little as 10 to 12 minutes long. According to the National Council on Strength & Fitness, the intensity of sprinting requires the body to maintain an elevated level of oxygen consumption after the workout, which keeps the body in a calorie-burning state. Sprinting will also strengthen the heart and increase the maximum amount of oxygen your body is able to uptake, which increases its efficiency during demanding activity.
Hill sprints require short, intense intervals of effort on steep inclines. To perform, begin with a few intervals of about 10 seconds each and gradually increase the number of intervals and the duration as you get stronger. Focus on pulling your knees up high with each stride and power your weight off your back leg as you straighten it. You will notice that hill sprints shift more work to the calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors than running on flats.
Speed endurance drills are commonly used by track athletes during training for 200-meter and 400-meter events. The distances for these drills can range from 100 meters to 600 meters, and the number of repetitions may vary from 4 to 10. As the distance increases, the number of repetitions will decrease. It is important to rest for five to 10 minutes between sprints to let the body recover. Examples of speed endurance workouts are 4 repetitions of 300 meters, 5 repetitions of 200 meters, 6 repetitions of 150 meters, and 10 repetitions of 100 meters.
Fartlek means "speed play" in Swedish, and that's exactly what it is. Traditionally, fartleks are unstructured and involve short surges in speed between different landmarks (like a light post or stop sign) during a longer run. Alternatively, fartleks can be structured by time. An example of a time-structured fartlek would involve running for four minutes at a half-marathon race pace followed by a two-minute jog, then two minutes at a 10k race pace followed by a two-minute jog, then one-minute at a 5k race pace followed by a 30-second recovery, ending with a 30-second sprint at 1-mile race pace.
- The Interval Training Manual; Tom Kelso
- Hal Higdon's Smart Running; Hal Higdon
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.