Sprint training is a powerful tool that gives you back considerably more in terms of health benefits than the effort required.
It should be noted that there is a difference between all-out sprinting (moving at your fastest possible speed for a certain distance) and high-intensity training (alternating bursts of very intense activity with intervals of rest), both in terms of protocols and training outcomes. Luckily, the health benefits and fat loss come from doing either one, though with slightly varied returns that are related to the effort you put into your workouts. Get best results by programming according to your goals, physical limitations, and abilities.
So why sprint?
Reason #1: Lose Fat Fast With Sprint Training
Scientists write that compared to steady-state aerobic training, which produces disappointing fat loss, sprints are much more effective for fat loss in a shorter time. A classic 1994 study is indicative of this: Participants did either 20 weeks of steady-state aerobic training or 15 weeks of intervals (15 sprints for 30 seconds each). The interval group lost nine times more body fat and 12 percent more visceral belly fat than the aerobic group. Depending on training status (trained, untrained, or athlete), initial body composition, and protocol, sprint training can decrease body fat by 10 to 20 percent over a typical 12-week program. For example, a protocol that has been tested repeatedly on overweight men and women that uses 60 all-out 8-second cycle sprints with 12 seconds rest led to about 2.5 kg fat loss and 1 kg muscle gain in both men and women.
Reason #2: Build Muscle & Target Fast-Twitch Fibers
Sprint training will help you build muscle and it preferentially increases the size and strength of the powerful, fast-twitch fibers. Studies show sprinting enhances protein synthesis pathways by as much as 230 percent! With the right nutrition and recovery, this will lead to muscle building, allowing you to look leaner and run faster.
In addition, sprint training has repeatedly been shown to increase anabolic hormones that improve body composition. For instance, male wrestlers who did short-sprint training (six 35-meter sprints with 10 seconds recovery) significantly increased testosterone and decreased cortisol, leading to a favorable ratio between the two hormones for muscle building and fat loss.
Women won’t experience the same increase in testosterone, but sprints will increase growth hormone (GH), burning fat and building muscle for a strong, lean outcome. In fact, some studies indicate that women have higher baseline GH and may get a bigger boost in GH in response to intense training, although more research needs to be done.
Reason #3: Increase Endurance & Work Capacity
Studies show that sprint training is more effective than steady-state endurance training for improving endurance capacity, maximal oxygen uptake, and time to fatigue. This is because repeated intervals at a high intensity lead to the following adaptations:
• They require the body to use energy more efficiently by increasing the amount of glycogen that can be stored in the muscle by as much as 20 percent.
• Sprints “train” the body to burn fat for fuel, preserving muscle glycogen and prolonging work capacity.
• Intervals increase the body’s ability to remove waste products during exercise, leading to a 50 percent increase in what is called the muscle buffering capacity.
• Since sprints build muscle and target the fast-twitch fibers, they increase your speed and power, leading to a faster running or cycling speed. For example, one study found that trained cyclists who did six 30-second all-out sprints increased endurance speed, and decreased time trial performance by 26 percent more than a steady-state training group that did their regular workouts.
Reason #4: Improve Heart Health
Cardiovascular benefits include a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure. Of course, for the elderly who need to prioritize both cardiovascular health and functional mobility, interval training is preferred because it can help them build the fast-twitch muscles to prevent falls and fractures, while improving heart function. Aerobic exercise should be secondary since it leads to a loss in muscle and explosive power in the long term. Combined with Pilates for core work, balance, and endurance is ideal!
Reason #5: Improve Insulin Sensitivity & Energy Use
A number of studies show any time you alternate intense bursts of exercise with rest periods, you will improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar tolerance. This is partly because sprints decrease chronic inflammation and partly because the cells must adapt to more efficiently produce energy to keep you going.
Sprints improve insulin health in the young, old, overweight, diabetic, and people with metabolic syndrome. As mentioned earlier, the increased fat burning during training lead to a measurable post-workout calorie burn (called EPOC). Throw in the fat burning hormone response to training and you have a potent fat loss environment.
Reason #6: Improve Conditioning, Circulation & Lung Function
For example, a 23-minute sprint workout that included five 1-mintue intervals with 3 minutes rest significantly improved lung capacity compared to an aerobic protocol. Sprint participants also lowered cholesterol and improved circulation. Jumpboard and Abs is a great way to experience these benefits, plus of course, low impact, increased bone density, core work, and resistance training!
Reason #7: Improve Cognition, Brain Volume & Prevent Depression
It’s no surprise that sprint training makes your brain work better and can make you happier since just about every form of exercise has been shown to reap some mental benefits, increase endorphins, and promote better mood.
Reason #8: Save Time, While Building Mental Toughness
Sprint training can and needs to be done in a short amount of total training time. You can’t keep up the intensity level necessary for your intervals to be called sprints for much longer than 20 minutes. And you’ll get the best fat loss, muscle building and health results from keeping it short, simple and intense. You don’t need crazy volume here, you just have to train hard and with intention.
Sprint towards better health and wellness!
MPS and Central Core