Let’s get straight to the point, sprinting exercises stand out amongst other body fat reduction workouts you can do. Yep, sprints. Really. It’s an ‘easy’ way to increase lean mass, while losing bodyfat.
Science time: An investigation at CSC gave subjects an calorie maintenance diet for three days. One of the days they did 2.5 minutes in total of hard sprinting.
It was found that the subjects burned off an additional 200 calories that very same day vs the control group.
The study says that the workout:
“involved pedalling as fast as possible on a stationary bicycle at a high resistance for five sets of 30 seconds, each separated by minutes of recovery where the subjects pedalled slowly with a low resistance. During the high intensity sections, the researchers shouted slogans at the group over a speaker, encouraging them to give maximum effort.”
So it was actually a 22 and a half minute workout, but they were only “working” for 2.5 hard, hard minutes.
That’s a very encouraging result.
Have you ever seen an obese sprinter?
Didn’t think so.
Have you ever watched the London Marathon and been shocked to see more than a few fat participants trundling round the course? Definitely.
Many more participants in the same race are ‘skinny fat’ – meaning that their body composition isn’t at all optimal.
They might be slim but too high a ratio of the weight they do possess is fat, not muscle tissue. They don’t appear ‘large’ when you see them, but too much of the (little – not always a good thing) weight they carry is fat, not muscle. This is visceral fat.
While their overall weight may be okay (think BMI scale), the body composition isn’t what it should be. Too much muscle is lost doing that high an amount of endurance training.
Sprinters are built differently. If you want to shed some body fat at a high speed (pun intended!) AND keep your lean muscle gains plus keep your metabolism bubbling, sprint workouts are the way to go.
A word of warning, with a workout level-up solution
As with anything, you have to be careful. Sprinting at 100% effort on the flat can be a great way to injure oneself if you don’t correctly warm up prior to it.
You can limit this risk of injury (it’ll be a much more intense & effective workout) is to do hill sprints. Hill sprints will leave you with a fantastic quad pump and sense of being made of 100% tiger blood.
If you don’t have a convenient hill to hand, a flat place to sprint (a track or field, NOT concrete) will be perfect.
Make sure that you cap your sprints around 85-90 percent of your max effort. It will be more than enough, trust us.
Warmup for sprint workouts
Before your sprint workout, perform a light jog for a few minutes. If you’re on a field like a soccer or football field, you can jog a couple of laps around the outside. Proceed on to perform 2-3 minutes of jump rope. Double unders are preferable if you can do them.
Then it’s time for a few warm-up bodyweight movements like high knees, bodyweight squats, leg swings & lunges for a further 2 minutes minimum.
All this doesn’t – and shouldn’t – need to be drawn-out or at all intense but you want to prepare your body for sprinting. This means getting some blood flowing and properly mobilising your joints, this is key to injury prevention.
The sprinting workout begins with three or four (progressively harder) sprints of about 20 to 30 meters. These are still your warm ups and you should not be bent over, exhausted.
There are plenty of ways to perform not only sprinting sessions, but high intensity interval training in general. You can actively vary: length of work and rest intervals, work to rest ratio, the number of sets, the actual exercises involved.
As well as this, you can also build on your sprint workouts specifically as you improve your overall fitness level. Starting out, you might only be able to do 3 or 4 sprints of 20 meters before calling it for the day.
Your fitness levels will quickly improve when you’re consistent and before you know it, you’ll be doing longer sprints. That doesn’t mean it has to be for a longer time, as your speed will improve as well. Meaning you’ll be covering a longer distance in the same amount of time. Keep a record of how far you can sprint in 20 seconds.
Don’t let these sprint training sessions evolve into endurance workouts. When it comes to HIIT training, less is more.
Sprints are similar in stimulus to intense weight training sessions for the legs so make sure recovery is a priority. Cut down strong leg workouts when pairing with sprints.
If you aren’t ready for HIIT, here’s a simple series of progressions:
- Alternate 1 min jogging with 1 min walking
- Alternate 1 min running with 1 min jogging
- Alternate 10 second sprints with 30 sec walking
- Do sprints uphill then walk back down the hill – extra rest if needed at the bottom
If you don’t have easy access to a decent hill (do you live in Holland?), you can still adjust the parameters like I mentioned above. Start out with around 3 to 4 sprints of 20 meters each.
You will add additional intervals until you are doing 10 sprints of 20 maters, whereupon you can drop back the number of sprint intervals to 4 or 5 and sprint for 30 meters.
Eventually, you may be doing 10 lots of 60 meter sprints for your workout. Yes, it’s a similar type of progression model you’d use to make strength gains while lifting.
During sprint workouts, you don’t need to go all out. Try sprinting around 85 – 90% of a maximum effort.
“Interval training stresses energy systems in the body that aren’t accustomed to being used”
says Jeramie Hinojosa, M.S., director of the East Texas Medical Center Olympic Center, in Tyler, Texas.
He goes on to say:
“The supply of blood to cells increases, cells use their supply of oxygen more efficiently, and the enzymes that help create energy also increase.”
Increase lean mass, decrease body fat
Long story short – sprints improve fitness.
If you’re serious about burning fat, getting ripped abs and want to quickly see results, consider adding HIIT training in the form of sprinting to your regular program. You’ll be surprised at the results something so simple can achieve.