It is unfortunate when someone does see the need to increase their speed since they are not athletes. The assumption is that a fast pace is only beneficial for athletes. However, recent research shows that sprint workouts are great additions to exercise programs for weight loss and muscle development. This might explain why they have suddenly become popular among celebrities.
What Are Sprint Workouts?
Sprints are explosive exercises that are considered a total-body workout (1). They are a staple in the workout plans of many athletes as they increase athletic performance, compared to traditional running. Generally, these exercises target your hips, butt, quads, hamstrings, calves and abs.
There are different sprint workouts, depending on the intensity and fitness goals. Some examples include (1):
- Beginner Sprint Workout. These exercises are the foundation of the more advanced workouts. They are easy to follow, with most requiring you to sprint for 30 seconds.
- Hill Sprint Workout. As the name implies, this exercise requires you to sprint on a steep hill for at least a third of a mile. It is very challenging but effective in building leg strength.
- Endurance Sprint Workout. This workout involves sustaining your maximum velocity for an extended duration.
- Power Sprint Workout. As the name suggests, this workout is mainly performed to improve anaerobic power and capacity.
How To Maintain The Correct Sprinting Form
Like any other workout, you must focus on the correct technique to avoid injury risk. Here are some key pointers to help you practice and maintain the proper sprinting form (3), (1):
Keep Your Knees High
You need to keep your knees high because your feet should hit the ground directly beneath the center of your mass or around your hips. It also increases your power and raises your maximum speed.
Make sure you are leaning forward slightly to avoid injuring your back. Remember also to relax your shoulders during the movement.
Read More: Running In Place: Is It A Good Workout?
Maintain The Correct Arm Movement
When sprinting, you have to move your arms back and forth while simultaneously making your strides. Coordination is critical because it helps with momentum and acceleration (3). Be sure to maintain the correct arm movement, which is not in or out of your chest.
What Are Sprint Workouts Good For?
Sprint workouts are a great addition to any cardio or strength training workout plan due to their long list of benefits. Some of these benefits include:
Better Heart Health
Sprint workouts are considered cardiovascular activities, meaning they raise your heart rate. As a result, they promote better health and reduce your risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, the fast-twitch muscles that you build when performing sprint workouts improve heart function (1). Blood circulation in your heart also improves because all the effort goes into making your heart pump harder when sprinting.
Reduced Stress Levels
Like other exercise forms, sprint workouts reduce your stress levels. When sprinting, your body releases feel-good endorphins that make you feel good. As a result, your body stops releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
It is worth noting that your body releases the highest endorphins at the end of your exercise regime. This means that besides being happy to complete your workout, you also enjoy a sensation of relief and confidence.
Increased Muscle Mass
Sprinting is also efficient by increasing hypertrophy. This is because when you sprint, your fast-twitch muscle fibers are broken down. When your body repairs them, it makes them stronger and increases their mass (1).
Additionally, sprinting increases muscle mass by targeting many muscle groups simultaneously. This makes it a complete or full-body muscle training exercise. Several studies show that sprint workouts could promote muscle building and help you become leaner with the proper nutrition (1).
Sprinting kick starts your metabolism to high gear, which helps you burn more calories even if you stop sprinting. In addition, WebMD states that these workouts increase your metabolic rate and promote fat loss based on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect (2).
The EPOC effect, better known as afterburn, allows you to burn calories long after you are done performing these workouts (2). What is great about an increased metabolism is that you burn more calories. In addition, if you burn more than you are consuming, you may shed pounds.
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Increased Athletic Performance
Sprint track workouts are very effective in improving athletic performance of trained athletes. Track sprint workouts are aerobic activities. This means that each time you push your muscles to the maximum, you increase the speed and eccentric loads which would not be achieved with any other training activity.
Additionally, track sprinting workouts increase your aerobic threshold. That is because they allow your body muscles to work harder for an extended duration (1).
Increased Speed Reserve
Sprinting also helps athletes increase their speed reserve because the workouts help you maintain a quick pace with lower energy expenditure and at lower velocities. The athlete can manage this by running at the required speed and even maintaining a lower percent of their maximal rate. As a result, they experience significant efficiency and energy conservation.
Is Sprint Training Good For Weight Loss?
Many are on the quest to discover the best weight loss workout plan. You may have seen several search results online about the effectiveness of sprint workouts for weight loss.
Evidence shows that you can practice sprint workouts as part of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program for weight loss. Such a routine increases your heart rate, making your heart work harder during the movement (4), (1).
As a result, it encourages your body to burn more calories even after you are done with your regime. Additionally, sprinting can promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism.
A high metabolism translates to weight loss because you burn more calories even when at rest. These workouts can improve your body composition by decreasing your fat ratio and increasing your muscle ratio (3).
Read More: Running While Overweight: Tips, Tricks And Debunking Myths
How Long Should Sprint Workouts Be?
If you just started sprint workouts and are impressed by their results, you may desire to perform them every day. The notion is that the more you perform them, the faster you attain your fitness goals.
But unfortunately, that is not the working theory of sprint workouts. You cannot exercise daily because you need rest days during which your body muscles recover and repair.
Additionally, sprints are explosive exercises that require maximum effort. If you perform them every other day, you may experience extreme fatigue and damage to your body muscles. Additionally, you risk injuring yourself because you are less alert when working with a sore body. So, fitness gurus recommend a sprint workout plan three days a week (2).
How To Design A Sprinting Workout Plan
To get a personalized sprint workout plan, there are several factors that you have to consider. They include (3):
It is highly advisable to consult a professional before starting a new regime or changing your workout plan. These experts must validate that these workouts are right for you and safe to perform, especially if you have an underlying health condition.
It is no brainer that the first step you need to take is to develop your fitness goals. They are imperative because they form the foundation of the exercises you choose.
The sprint workouts you choose must be practical and help you attain your goals. So, for example, if you want to build athletic performance, you need to do sprint exercises that help with this goal.
Increasing the intensity of any workout helps to challenge your muscles further. However, exercise with a higher intensity may not be appropriate for individuals with improper sprinting movement patterns, musculoskeletal injury, or a poor musculoskeletal foundation (2).
Consult with your trainer if you want to increase the intensity of your sprint workouts. However, this does not mean that such individuals cannot benefit from low-impact sprints. They can, primarily when done on an elliptical trainer, indoor bicycle, or pool.
It is advisable to start with low-impact sprint workouts and gradually increase the intensity and speed over time.
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Maintaining the proper technique is always advised as it highly influences the safety and effectiveness of a regime.
It would be best to work with your trainer if you need to modify an exercise or learn its proper form. Please cease any activity if you experience pain or constant discomfort and consult.
A Sprinting Training Program For Beginners
Crafting a personalized exercise program is pretty challenging, especially for beginners. Choosing the right sprint workouts for beginners is equally challenging due to increased choices and a lack of knowledge on what suits you best.
So, it would be best to talk to your trainer if you are interested in a particular sprint program. Remember to choose one with rest days, exercises fitting your fitness level, and aligning with your fitness goals.
To better understand how to design a personalized sprint program, let us analyze a sample provided by WebMD. According to WebMD, this program can help you burn 500 to 700 calories a week while still building muscle mass (2). So, it is an effective program for weight loss and muscle development. It is as follows (2):
Perform eight 100 m sprints at 50% to 60% of your top speed. After each sprint, walk to the starting position and perform 5 burpees before performing the next sprints. Perform 40 burpees.
Repeat the Monday workout, but increase the 100-meter sprints from 8 to 10. Similarly, increase the burpees from 40 to 50.
Repeat the workout, but increase the 100-meter sprints to 12 and burpees to 60.
The Bottom Line
Sprint workouts are great exercises to perform to burn fat, build muscle, and increase athletic power, strength, and endurance. There are different sprint workouts which vary depending on your fitness level.
Regardless of the exercises you perform, you can increase metabolism, athletic performance, speed reserve, and power if you do these workouts in the correct form. With this in mind, take time to master the proper technique of the sprint workout variation you choose. Additionally, consult with professionals before making changes to your workout plan.
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!
- Research into the Health Benefits of Sprint Interval Training Should Focus on Protocols with Fewer and Shorter Sprints (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sprint Burpees (2022, webmd.com)
- The Training and Development of Elite Sprint Performance: an Integration of Scientific and Best Practice Literature (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Want better exercise results in less time? Try interval training to boost your workout (2018, health.harvard.edu)