Sprinting is a great form of exercise for many reasons, and it’s something almost anyone can do one way or another. Today, I’m going to talk about the BENEFITS OF SPRINTING AND SPRINTING TRAINING and why YOU should incorporate it into your life.
Benefit #1: Sprinting and/or interval training is better at burning fat than continuous “steady state” aerobic activity. Now, let’s clarify this a little. It’s not that it’s better at burning fat necessarily (although some studies may suggest it – we need more to be conclusive though), it has more to do with the VOLUME of work accomplished during each type of training. With the higher intensity intervals, a person can do MORE work (read: MORE volume) in a shorter amount of time, making it MORE likely you will get MORE done, and reap MORE of the benefits. You would have to spend a lot more time to get the same result from steady state aerobic activity (1, 2). Which leads us to the next benefit…
Benefit #2: It’s a more efficient workout. Think about it, you could go for a forty-five minute jog, or you could run six, thirty-second sprints with a two minute rest in between – it’s still less than fifteen minutes – to get the same result or do the same VOLUME of work. This is just an approximation, but you get what I’m saying here. If you do the sprints, you will have more time to spend doing other things, like strength and mobility work, which you also need to stay healthy and fit.
Benefit #3: It helps train and increase the proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers in your body. Fast twitch muscle fibers are responsible for developing the size and definition of particular muscles, and are great for sports AND activities during which you may need to move fast and with power, sports like football, hockey, soccer, etc. and activities such as running for the bus or lifting a heavy box off the ground. When you slip on the ice or turn your ankle on the sidewalk, your fast twitch muscle fibers are also the ones activating so you don’t fall. You never know when you might need them.
Benefit #4: It increases lean muscle mass in both men and women. And having more lean muscle mass means having a higher metabolism, which means burning more calories even when you are NOT exercising. Note that it takes more energy to maintain muscle than it does fat. But don’t worry ladies, you are NOT going to get all bulky (if you were worried) unless you are adding some “extra-curricular something or other” to your body. Sprinting will simply help you tone and shape your muscles better (2).
Benefit #5: It’s also great if you older, overweight or even diabetic. Sure, your “sprints” may be a little slower than average, but that’s OK. Interval training a few times a week can be a time-efficient exercise strategy to help control blood glucose in diabetic patients and improve insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic adults (3). MAKE SURE TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING ANY NEW TYPE OF TRAINING, INCLUDING THIS ONE.
Benefit #6: It lowers blood pressure. Sure, your heart rate will go up when you do it, but that’s only for a short period of time. Overall, studies have shown that interval and sprint training appears to have the most potential of any exercise modality for the long term resolution of hypertension (4). That’s great news!
Benefit #7: There are LOTS of sprinting options. So if you don’t like running, or simply can’t manage the impact, there are lots of other ways to incorporate “sprinting” into your life. You can sprint on a bike, in the pool, or on a rower. You can even walk sprint. It’s just a matter of varying the intensity of any activity. Sprint stair climb. Sprint mix the muffin batter – seriously. Work hard (whatever that means for you), go easy, work hard, go easy. It’s really that simple.
Happy sprinting. Remember, while you always want to practice good form no matter what activity you are doing, try to have fun with it. If you are running, race a friend or family member. Go best two out of three, or three out of five… [insert start of sarcastic tone]. And even if you are twenty years older than that person, tell them you will kick their butt. Instilling fear in the younger generation is sometimes a necessary evil. It doesn’t always work, and you probably won’t win, but at least it’ll make you feel good for a few seconds, or until you lose. 😉 Want to see me race my son, Dustin? Watch the video below!
So there you have it: a few of the BENEFITS OF SPRINTING AND SPRINT TRAINING. I hope this information helps you on your journey to a healthier, more mobile and injury-free life.
That’s been a word from me (Dr. Chris) – #notyoureverydayortho
- Zhang H, Tong TK, Qiu W, et al. Comparable Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training and Prolonged Continuous Exercise Training on Abdominal Visceral Fat Reduction in Obese Young Women. Journal of Diabetes Research. 2017;2017:5071740. doi:10.1155/2017/5071740
- M. Heydari, J. Freund, and S. H. Boutcher. The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males. Journal of Obesity, vol. 2012, Article ID 480467, 8 pages, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/480467
- Francois ME, Little JP. Effectiveness and Safety of High-Intensity Interval Training in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Spectrum : A Publication of the American Diabetes Association. 2015;28(1):39-44. doi:10.2337/diaspect.28.1.39
- Ciolac EG. High-intensity interval training and hypertension: maximizing the benefits of exercise? American Journal of Cardiovascular Disease. 2012;2(2):102-110
Fast Twitch Vs. Slow Twitch: What Kind Of Muscles Do You Want? from Nerd Fitness
3 Ways To Develop Fast-Twitch Muscles from Stack Fitness
Eight Reasons Everyone Should Do Sprints from The Poliquin Group