When anyone mentions anything about sprinting, many of us automatically think about the famous faces of Olympic competitors and winners such as Usain Bolt, Elaine Thompson-Herah, Carl Owens, or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – men and women who have astonished the world with just how fast they can sprint on the track and who hold multiple world records. While sprinting is definitely impressive when done by these accomplished athletes, this sport/exercise isn’t just for them. Sprinting can easily be done at home by both seasoned runners and beginners. When done properly – and safely – this a HIIT sprint workout can even be the quick weight loss workout plan that you’ve been looking for. If you haven’t heard about hiit sprint workouts before, or have heard about them but aren’t sure how to go about making a hiit sprint workout plan, then stick around to learn how to incorporate this simple yet intense exercise to your busy routine, for both weight loss and other health benefits.
What Is A HIIT Sprint Workout?
Also known as sprint interval HIIT workout, this is a subtype of the popular HIIT workouts that have taken over the fitness world by storm over the last 10 years or so (12, 11). For anyone unaware, HIIT aka high-intensity interval training, is a type of interval training that can be done with different types of cardio exercises from running, to jump rope, dancing, cycling, and even rowing.
During HIIT workouts, you incorporate several rounds of your chosen exercise and alternate between several minutes of high intensity movements followed by short periods of lower intensity movements. During the high intensity rounds the aim is usually to significantly increase the heart rate to at least 80% of one’s maximum heart rate.
A HIIT sprint workout works basically the way. Run or jog at a comfortable pace – sprint at your fastest pace for about 30 seconds – reduce your pace and run/jog at a comfortable pace – sprint for another 30 seconds and repeat this process until your chosen workout time has run out.
What Are The Benefits Of A HIIT Sprint Workout?
If you are not sure if this type of HIIT workout is for you, here are some benefits that might convince you to give it a try
- It saves time – One of the main reasons why many people fall out of their workout routine is due to lack of time. A HIIT sprint workout, like many other HIIT workouts, often takes just 20 to 30 minutes and you’re done ready to get back to your day.
- Fat Loss – If you are confused about which one, the basic HIIT or a sprint interval HIIT workout, will lead to more fat loss, we are here to tell you that a HIIT sprint workout is the way to go.
In a study published in 2018 in the Frontiers in Physiology journal, researchers found that after 8 weeks, the women who did all out sprint interval cycling exercises lost more body fat than the women who did simple HIIT (1). Both groups did not make any special changes to their diets.
- Improved running speed – If you are a habitual casual runner or a competitive one who likes taking part in long distance runs like marathons, adding sprints to your training routine will help increase your running speed. Sprinting not only helps your body recover faster, but it also improves your running form, which helps with your speed.
- Improved endurance – If you want your runs to last longer without you tiring out too quickly then HIIT sprint is your answer. In a study published in 2018, researchers took 16 trained trail runners and put them to the test.
These study participants had to complete a 2-week procedure consisting of 4-7 bouts of 30 seconds at maximal intensity interspersed by 4 minutes of recovery, 3 times a week. After the study time, researchers found that taking part in this sprint trial led to improved times when running a 3000 m run. The runners had improved in both endurance and power (4).
- Reduced PMS symptoms – If you tend to deal with severe PMS symptoms, sprinting could help reduce these symptoms. In a study published in 2013, researchers took 40 non-athlete female university students aged 18-25 years, all who were diagnosed with PMS.
The girls were divided into two groups – one experimental and another control. The experimental group was asked to do aerobic exercises for 8 weeks, three sessions per week for 60 minutes. After the 8 weeks, researchers found that the girls in the experimental group displayed significantly better physical and even psychological PMS changes, concluding that aerobics can be used to treat PMS (9).
Seeing that sprinting is basically a more intense version of running, women suffering from PMS could consider adding a beginner HIIT sprint workout to their routines to help combat PMS.
- Sprinting is also good for improved cardiovascular health, blood pressure and blood sugar levels (5, 2, 10, 7).
- Stronger bones – Research has consistently shown that running helps improve bone density (8). However, did you know that sprinting could even work better than basic running? In a study done on older adults, researchers found that the seniors who had been sprinting for most of their lives had greater hip and spine bone density than endurance athletes and non-athletic seniors (3).
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What Is A Good HIIT Sprint Workout?
If you are looking for a HIIT sprint workout for beginners, here’s an example of what to do.
- Ps. for the best HIIT sprint workout, make sure that you warm up before getting into the actual workout. Sprints are very taxing on the body – even before giving it your all in a HIIT routine. Try your best to do at least a 10 minute warmup session before doing this routine
If you are a true beginner to running in general, this option is best for you. Here’s how to go about it
- Do a 10 minute warm up. This should involve both stretching and dynamic exercises like lunges, leg swings, donkey kicks, jogging in place, etc.
- Run for 5 minutes at a comfortable pace.
- After the initial 5 minutes, run as fast as you can for 10 seconds
- Slow down and go back to the comfortable pace for another 5 minutes, then burst into a full sprint for 10 seconds
- Repeat this process over for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remember to add a 5 minute cool down to let your muscles relax and prevent extreme muscle soreness the next day
If you run casually, or have been doing option 1 above for a few weeks, try out this version
- Warm up for 10 minutes with stretches and dynamic exercises
- Sprint at full speed for 10 to 15 seconds
- Stop completely and rest for 90 seconds
- Sprint again for 10 to 15 seconds before stopping fully for 90 seconds
- Repeat this over and over for 20 to 30 minutes
- Finish everything off with a 5-minute cool down session.
Is HIIT Sprint Workout Good For Fat Loss?
Yes, it is. As mentioned in the benefits section above, research has shown that this exercise is great for both weight and fat loss.
Are Sprints A Good HIIT Workout?
Yes, they are. Actually, any cardio workout can be modified into a HIIT workout. Sprints work great as a HIIT workout as they are already high intensity to begin with.
How Often To Perform HIIT Sprint Workout?
We suggest doing a hiit sprint workout 2 to 3 times a week. When looking to lose weight, you need to supplement cardio workouts (hiit sprint in this case) with weight lifting workouts for the best results. You should also make sure to have 1 to 2 days of rest to let your body and muscles recover. Remember that a sprint interval hiit workout is quite an intense exercise plan so overdoing it will very likely cause more harm than good.
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The Bottom Line
A HIIT sprint workout is a fantastic workout for anyone who wishes to lose weight, improve their health or for habitual runners who would like to build up on their speed and endurance. If you are a beginner to sprinting or running in general, remember to first speak to your doctor and once they give you a go ahead, pace yourself to make sure that you remain safe and don’t hurt yourself.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training vs. Sprint Interval Training on Anthropometric Measures and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Healthy Young Women (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Extremely short duration sprint interval training improves vascular health in older adults (2013, link.springer.com)
- Hip and spine bone mineral density are greater in master sprinters, but not endurance runners compared with non-athletic controls (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Six Sessions of Sprint Interval Training Improves Running Performance in Trained Athletes (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sprint interval and traditional endurance training induce similar improvements in peripheral arterial stiffness and flow-mediated dilation in healthy humans (2008, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sprint interval exercise training reduces intrahepatic, visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat despite no change in body weight, but has variable effects on whole-body insulin sensitivity (2017, researchgate.net)
- The effect of a short sprint on postexercise whole-body glucose production and utilization rates in individuals with type 1 diabetes mellitus (2012, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effect of long-distance running on bone strength and bone biochemical markers (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effects of 8 weeks of regular aerobic exercise on the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome in non-athlete girls (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Impact of Sprint Interval Training Frequency on Blood Glucose Control and Physical Function of Older Adults (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 (2021, researchgate.net)
- Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2022 (2022, journals.lww.com)