While sprinting has been around since the dawn of man, only in the past few years has it really taken off as true fitness trend. In other words, it was either what we did to kill our dinner in prehistoric times, or it was a modern athletic competition. Only recently have we realized that doing sprint work for our interval training is a tremendously effective way to get/stay lean, enhance mobility, improve athleticism, and prepare ourselves for the demands that life throws our way.
Obviously, if you haven’t even gone for a jog in recent years, it would be unwise to go out and start doing high intensity sprints tomorrow. There are some things you will want to nail down before sprinting: mobility, good tissue quality, and strength.
Be sure that you have no problem completing simple stretches before you begin sprinting. Good examples of this are a hip flexor stretch in a lunge position and a downward dog yoga pose. These both require flexibility either in the hips, hamstrings, or the thoracic spine, which all play a role in sprinting.
DO NOT sprint at 100% intensity right away. This may be common sense to some, but it still needs to be reiterated! Sprint work does not have to be at 100% in order to gain benefits from it. Most sprinting should be in the 70-90% range.
If and when sprinting days become part of your workout program, two days a week is plenty of work to derive benefits. Don’t let the sessions last longer 30-45min, and that includes the resting in between sets. Also, no other lifting should be taking place on these days. One or two days should be set aside throughout the week, on non-consecutive days.
At first, you should avoid sprinting through fatigue in your workouts. Fatigue can cause breaks in form during sprinting that can lead to hamstring, calf, or even achilles injuries. Once you feel that you are using great form and have been conditioned quite a bit, sprinting through some fatigue is necessary. Fat-loss can still be seen when not sprinting through serious fatigue.
Don’t go out and sprint on pavement. Pavement can cause lower extremity injuries because of the unforgiving surface that it poses. Choose between artificial turf, grass, or a track surface!
Here is a great day-by-day cycle of where to incorporate sprinting. This kind of program would only be suitable for athletes or experienced lifters due to the volume of training (6 days), but anyone can get the idea of where sprinting should be placed.
Mon: Lower body strength training
Tues: Upper body strength training
Wed: Sprint work
Thurs: Lower body strength training
Fri: Upper body strength training
Sat: Sprint Work
The benefits of using high intensity interval sprints is undeniable, and as of late, the research supporting this has really taken off. So if you’re looking to build lean muscle and trim off body fat, you may want to ditch the slow, long distance runs and try out sprint work. I believe you will be pleased with the results.
Move to the beat of your own drum.