The fitness benefits of sprinting are more than just increased speed. Sprinting speeds up your metabolism, and keeps your cardiovascular system in top shape. Sprinting is also touted as the best fat burner around. So, speed it up and leave fat in your dust.
What's a Sprint?
A sprint is a short, fast run, that lasts less than a minute. Think Olympics -- bring your knees high and kick back to your butt, and speed up as fast as you can go. Incorporate sprints with enough rest to be fully recovered for at least one workout a week.
1. Big Time Fat Burn
Some studies show that sprint workouts burn fat 9 times faster than slow cardio, even when incorporated with easy active rest sets, or short bouts of sprinting, followed by walking to recover. One look at Olympic sprinters and you'll see the chiseled, low-body fat physique that is achievable with sprint interval workouts. Sprint workouts also raise your metabolism, resulting in fat burn when you're at rest as well.
2. Cardio Health
Your cardiovascular system -- especially your heart -- reaps big benefits from sprinting. Long, slow cardio can cause unnecessary stress on your heart, where bursts of maximum cardio output keep your heart working for less time. That increases your endurance and enables you to make even your longest sets more manageable.
3. Less Gym Time
Forty-five minute elliptical sessions are a thing of the past! You'll burn as many (or more) calories, while digging into your fat stores with shorter cardio sessions when you add in sprints. Your time is valuable, so get on with it and dump those long, boring sessions. Add sprints to your outdoor runs as well by sprinting for a specified distance (one block, between two light posts, or for a length of time) and get your workout done in 15-20 minutes.
4. Quick Results
Powering through sprint workouts produce more significant results quicker than the months it would take you to do the same if you are droning through your cardio. Because sprints, combined with active rest like walking, activate both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers, toning happens quickly. Your higher metabolism helps crank up the burn while you're out of the gym as well.
How to Sprint
Two words: All Out. Setting the treadmill at a high speed for 1 minute, then dropping it for a minute is a really great interval workout, but it's not a sprint. Ideally, your workout will take place on the street or at a track, but a treadmill will do! Sprint for at least 10 seconds, or as long as you can, then walk to recover fully before starting again. Be sure to fully recover, since each repetition should be as close to full speed as possible. You'll likely find that you can sprint for a lot longer in your first few sprint intervals, but toward the end, just getting past 10 seconds will be quite a feat. That's fine! That means that your muscles are quickly fatiguing and that the workout is working. If you are able to maintain for more than a minute, turn it up even higher to fatigue quicker.