Warmer weather is coming and you’re ready to shed winter weight gain. But the thought of walking on a treadmill or cycling endlessly on a stationary bike can get tedious. Maybe you’re looking for a better way to crush calories, build strength, and supercharge your workouts. If so, have you considered sprints?
The last time you may have sprinted was either back in high school gym class or through an airport terminal to catch a plane. If so, you may want your doctor’s advice first before taking up sprinting. However, you’re good to go as long as you’re healthy and can do a ten-second interval sprint (the fastest run you can do comfortably).
Why you body needs the speed of sprints
The benefits of an all-out run at your top speed are incredible. From achieving an excellent cardiovascular workout to increasing stamina, burning calories, shredding fat, chiseling your abs, and boosting metabolism, so even when the activity is over, you’re still burning calories, the benefits of sprints are endless.
Here’s another reason to consider sprinting as you newfound exercise routine. Most exercise guidelines emphasize working out moderately at least 30 to 60 minutes most days. Yet, far too few of us, actually meet those goals. You may be working long hours, have family commitments and school events or other activities to attend. So, how do you fit in exercise too?
The number one reason most people fail to meet the exercise guidelines is lack of time. So, if you’re short on time, a sprint workout can be a doable and effective way of improving your overall health and wellness fast. You do not need to be a world class athlete to sprint. No one is expecting you to perform at the level of Usain Bolt, a Jamaican sprinter considered the top sprinter of all time. You sprint at the best level you can and you’ll still be supercharging your body in a way walking on a treadmill or a stationary bike can’t do. Here’s why:
Sprinting isn’t all about speed. Anyone can sprint at whatever top speed their body is capable of. Remember, your only competing with yourself. You’re not at a track meet. That means you’ll go all-out expending your maximum effort, moving yourself forward as fast as you can with power and strength. Sprints are intense but within about 15 seconds they’re over with. Even elite athletes would not be able to maintain a sprint for much longer than a minute or so. However, there are certain sports in which a sprint is necessary for the event. That’s because sprints are a footrace over a short distance of an all-out or nearly all-out burst of speed. Sports where sprints are common include swimming, track and field, football (the wide receiver catching the football and sprinting towards the goal), and speed skating.
Sprinting will help enhance your ability to build strength and size in four key muscle groups:
- Back – As you vigorously pump your arm sprinting, you’ll be challenging your mid-back muscle and core strength.
- Glutes – With every stride you take while sprinting, your torso and back leg should form a straight line, propelling you forward. This move is called hip extension and glute muscles are required to ignite your movement. The more you practice sprinting, the more you build athleticism and protect your lower back.
- Abdominal core – As you drive your knees toward your chest with every stride, your body is leaning slightly forward which challenges your entire core – abs, lower-back extensors, obliques, and other muscles).
- Hamstrings – Strong hamstrings are vital for driving your knees to bend, helping lift your back leg to move forward, propelling you along. The hamstrings then work to straighten your legs in line with your torso as you push yourself off the ground.
Game plan for starting sprints
Now that you know the outstanding game changer sprints can have on your body, it’s time to have a game plan on how to get started.
If you already work with a certified fitness trainer, ask their advice on developing a plan for incorporating sprints. If not, here are three examples of sprint workouts to choose from based on your current fitness level or physical limitations:
Start with sprinting about 10 meters or 30 feet. Go at the fastest pace you can. Then walk back to the starting point. Repeat as any times as possible for 10 minutes. Each week, add 5meters to gradually work up to 100 meters or about 300 feet. Do this twice a week.
- Cardio burn
If you are already performing sprints regulalry or have started with the beginner plan and are ready to advance, this workout may be for you. Start by sprinting for 100 meters, then jog very slowly for 50 meters. Repeat this 7 times and then rest for 6 minutes. Repeat the sequence. Do this twice a week.
- To build speed
If your goal is to increase speed, this plan may meet your goal. Start by sprinting 20 meters, and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times and gradually build up to 20 times, and every three weeks, add 10 meters. Do this twice a week.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.