The Benefits of Adding Sprints To Your Workout Routine

In a previous post I talked about the Primal Essential Movements; Push-up, Pull-up, Squat, and Plank.  In addition to these movements, it is recommended to have a session of sprints every 7-10 days.  Don’t let the idea of sprinting turn you off if you haven’t done them since the 40 yard dash back in grade school!

Sprinting is an occasional short burst of maximum effort.  Just like with diet, sprinting will look different for each of you.  Sprinting triggers a cascade of positive neuroendocrine, hormonal, and gene expression events that promote muscle development, fat loss, increased energy and alertness, and delayed aging.  Some other key benefits include:

  • Enhanced insulin sensitivity
  • Improves lipid profiles
  • Boost levels of adaptive hormones, such as testosterone and human growth hormones (HGH)
  • Promotes mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondric size
  • Improves cognition and elevates mood by decreasing inflammation in, and improving oxygen delivery to the brain

Modern research confirms that the health and fitness benefits of sprinting in many ways surpass the benefits of cardiovascular workouts that last several times as long.  Sprinting helps increase the fat-burning potential of muscle, enhances oxygen utilization and maximal oxygen uptake in the lungs, improves the ability to store and preserve glycogen, improves muscle buffering capacity, and extends the “time to fatigue” marker at all levels of intensity.

Developing your sprinting fitness allows you to perform better at both high-intensity and in longer duration, lower intensity exercise.  High-intensity sprinting is the most effective form of physical exercise to promote fat reduction.  Sprinting also enhances protein synthesis by as much as 230%, helping males build or maintain lean muscle mass, and helping females to achieve lean, toned physiques.  Sprinting doesn’t just have to be running, it can be done on a stationary bike, elliptical, rowing machine, or a swimming pool.  An added benefit to these movements is they are lower to no impact on your body.

Sprint sessions should last between 8-30 seconds.  All types of sprinting will stimulate your fat-burning system and promote lean muscle development and beneficial hormone flow, particularly the release of human growth hormone (HGH).  Sprinting intervals should be long enough to where you catch your breath and are ready to take on another burst.  Work on increasing the speed of your sprints and not the number of reps.  High-intensity workouts should never be done if your body and mind are fatigued and not up for the challenge.

Performing intense exercise in a fasted state and continuing to fast for as long as comfortable after exercise increases the amount of fat burning potential.  Due to the stimulus of the intense workout, your stored energy can be burned at an accelerated rate after exercise, speeding body fat reduction goals.

When you are ready to refuel after the intense workout, adhering to conventional wisdom to refuel with carbs and amino acids immediately after exercise will indeed replenish your glycogen stores.  This kind of refueling prompts the release of insulin, which quickly removes the adaptive hormones and fatty acids from the bloodstream and shuts off ketone burning.  Those with excess body fat may experience difficulty losing fat with this habitual refueling practice, because they are never creating a demand to access stored body fat for use as energy.

Gradually acclimate yourself to conducting intense workouts while fasted.  A low-insulin producing eating pattern must be adhered to for at least 3 weeks or longer, to ensure that fat burning genes are down-regulated.  After an intense fasted workout, you can wait as long as possible before experiencing true hunger sensations, at which time, you can enjoy a nutritious meal.

My Sprinting Workout:

  • 20 minute warm-up on treadmill, usually walking (4-4.2mph), but I will sometimes do a light jog (5.2mph)
  • I begin my sprints at the 20 minute mark
  • 1 Sprint Rep:
    • 30 seconds of sprint at 8mph (tip: I hold the siderails when slowing down after the sprint to reduce the amount of compression on my knees)
    • 90 seconds to catch my breath at 4mph
  • Repeat 5-7 times

This is just an example of what I do.  If you don’t have a treadmill, you can do them at the free fitness center out your front door!  Your speed, time, and reps will be different.  The key is to work in some form of sprinting in your routine.

Here’s to good health and an active lifestyle!!

10 Ways to Make Movement Part of Your Daily Routine

I read this article in my current issue of PALEO Magazine.  The article speaks directly to what I did for so many years, which was to run on the treadmill once per day for 30-45 minutes and then not worry about the rest of the day.  I have changed my routine drastically over the last few years as a result of what I’ve learned.

In a study looking at minimal-intensity physical activity, researchers concluded that “one hour of daily physical exercise cannot compensate for the negative effects of inactivity on insulin level and plasma lipids if the rest of the day is spent sitting. Reducing inactivity by increasing the time spent walking/standing is more effective than one hour of physical exercise, when energy expenditure is kept constant.”

Don’t over complicate how you incorporate movement into your day.  Read the short article and learn how you can start making subtle changes today that will absolutely make a difference!!

PALEO Magazine: LINK TO ARTICLE