Sprinting

Benefits of Sprinting

Sprinting could be a great exercise to add to any routine that can help achieve many different goals.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle – sprint.
If you’re looking to improve your metabolism – sprint.
If you hate distance running – sprint.
Do you want to increase your endurance? – sprint.
Do you want the same cardiovascular benefits of running without running? – sprint.
Do you need to save time but still get an effective workout? – sprint.
Do you want higher insulin sensitivity? (If you don’t know what that is, trust me, you want it.) – sprint.
Do you want increased lung function? – sprint.
How about warding off depression and boosting your mood? – sprint.

I’ve read articles that suggest 15 second sprints with 30 second rests, 100 meter sprints with a minute rest, repeating 4 times, or repeating 10 times. What does this mean? Sprinting is an incredibly versatile (and clearly beneficial) exercise that can be tailored to your specific likes/dislikes. 

So it sounds great, right? Like, maybe too good to be true…

So  I wondered, and one of the things I wondered about is how much the rest time in between each sprint really affects the performance and biology of the exercise. What I found out is that longer rests compared to shorter rests result in similar off-the-line power, but result in slower speed toward the end of the sprint. But, the overall biology of the sprints were not hugely effected by the length of the rest time. This is great to know, because it makes sprinting EVEN MORE DOABLE. You don’t need to get out there and run 45 second sprints with a measly 30 second rest between each. You can take up to a minute and a half of a break and maintain the same physiological benefits. 

But, by and large, the biggest benefit of sprints is that it’s NOT 30 minutes of sitting on an elliptical… or a bike… or a stairmaster… or a treadmill. Sometimes the cardio section of the gym can be a really huge buzzkill. Am I right, or am I right?

The Results From My Sprint Experiment

(The experiment: sprinting at least twice a week for six weeks.)
One of the major things that sprinting did for me was improve my running stamina. When I started, my mile time was 10:15, and when I stopped it was 9:07 – after just SIX weeks.
Before the sprint experiment I had “run” two 5k’s, and by that I mean I had struggled through two 5k’s and failed to run the whole distance. When I finished the experiment, I ran a 5 mile race with my mom and ran my first 5k without stopping – I got a time of 30:06 which translated to a 9:30 mile time.

That’s something I absolutely never thought I’d accomplish.
I had never considered myself a runner. In fact, I used to hate running. It exhausted me very quickly, it hurt, and I lost my breath and became very uncomfortable after less than 3 minutes of running. I just couldn’t fathom running a solid mile, much less 3 of them.

Now though? My cardiovascular health and running stamina has improved so much since starting the sprint experiment. I actually almost ENJOYED the 5k I ran today. That is huge for me. So, for anyone training for a a race, maybe you should consider adding sprints as part of your training!

As far as the other results go – after doing sprints my calves, hamstrings, and abs were alway sore. Those are three areas that I have trouble effectively training in the gym, so it was extremely beneficial for me to find an exercise that targeted them so well. I was especially happy to find an ab exercise that I actually enjoyed. I know, it seems weird that sprinting would be a good core workout, but it really is. Just give it a try, you’ll see. 

UPDATE:
It's been a few months since the close of the experiment, and I'm sad to say that I have unfortunately stopped sprinting as frequently, if at all. What I've noticed is that my running stamina has gone back to where it was before, and running and I are no longer friends. 

So, this goes to show that if you would like to maintain the benefits you receive from sprinting you should either keep up with doing your sprints or keep up with running.

This picture is from week 1 day 1 of my sprinting experiment back in 2013!! :O

UPDATE AGAIN:
The original post date of this article was in November 2013 (back when Katelift was still fit4review -- I'm impressed if ANYONE remembers that name!) before I started powerlifting!! I was working out regularly, but I hadn't yet found my passion for heavy weights. So, to say that I haven't sprinted in a while is probably an understatement... :O The last time I can remember sprinting was in Boston in 2015 for a few outdoor workouts. But my legs have only seen squats, deadlifts, and kickboxing since then!

I do remember the immense impact that sprinting had on my running stamina, though, and it was honestly quite staggering. It didn't take long at all for my running to improve, and if I hadn't found powerlifting I might have gone on to continue my growing taste for it. 

As listed above, sprinting has some seriously badass benefits. So, if heavy weights aren't YOUR thing give sprinting a try! It's efficient, effective, and it was fun for me when I tried it!
 

Sources:

"Speed Training." J Anderson. Sport Fitness Advisor. – LINK
“Eight Reasons Everyone Should Do Sprints.” Poliquin Editorial Staff. Poliquin Group. – LINK
“Maximal-Intensity Intermittent Exercise: Effect of Recovery Duration.” P. D. Balsom, J. Y. Seger, B. Sjödin, B. Ekblom. International Journal of Sports Medicine. Thieme. – LINK
“Regular Sprints Boost Metabolism.” Science Daily Editorial Staff. Science Daily. – LINK
“Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males.” Babraj JA, Vollaard NB, Keast C, Guppy FM, Cottrell G, Timmons JA. BMC Endocrine Disorders. PubMed Central. – LINK
“When it comes to cutting you up and promoting a nutrient-partitioning milieu conducive to building and maintaining a lean, muscular physique, sprinting simply cannot be beat. A simple look at competitive athletics demonstrates this pretty clearly.” (Part One). Loki. Bodybuilding.com. – LINK