Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
22 Jan

15 Reasons to Sprint More This Year

SprintA couple weeks ago, I gave you 17 reasons why you should walk more this year, citing dozens of studies in my attempt to convince you that walking is a healthy, effective endeavor for everyone and anyone. But it’s not the only thing you should be doing if you can help it. If you have the ability, I strongly believe that you should also be sprinting – at least (and maybe at most) once a week. The effects of regular sprinting on your health, your body composition, your fitness, your strength, and your susceptibility to disease are so impressive that it’d be foolish not to. I’ve said it before and even enshrined it in the Primal Laws to accentuate its importance, but here it is again: you should sprint more this year.

Why, though? Let’s hear some specific, science-based reasons to get up and move as fast as possible:

1. It preferentially burns body fat.

Weight loss isn’t just about eliminating any old kind of body mass. It’s about losing body fat while preserving or even gaining muscle and bone. Sprinting appears to be excellent at eliminating body fat without the negative impact on muscle mass commonly seen with excessive endurance training. A recent study found that a single sprint session can increase post-exercise fat oxidation by 75%. Not that this is a surprise, but even in young adults with an intellectual disability, sprinting improves body composition by reducing body fat.

2. It’s anabolic (that means it can increase muscle mass and strength).

An acute bout of sprinting increased dihydrotestosterone in healthy young men, while in overweight young men, a sprinting program increased lean mass in the legs and trunk. (In one study, men and women did three 30 second all-out sprint intervals on the stationary bike with 20 minutes of rest in between each sprint. Muscle biopsies were taken from their quads and analyzed for markers of protein synthesis – how muscle gets laid down.

3. It’s even more anabolic in women than men.

Yeah, yeah, you don’t wanna “get all big and bulky.” I know. But ladies, it won’t happen to you unless you’re somehow using an exogenous source of anabolic hormones to reach supraphysiological levels that you’d otherwise never reach naturally. More lean mass for you means more “tone,” less body fat, and more strength. In the previously mentioned study, female protein synthesis was up by 222%, male by 43%.

4. It makes you better at accessing body fat during other types of exercise.

Sprinting primes the substrate utilization pump, so to speak, for other activities. In one study, a two week program of cycling sprint interval training increased the rate of (body) fat oxidation (and decreased the rate of glycogen utilization) during subsequent lower intensity sessions in women.

5. It builds new mitochondria.

The basic function of our mitochondria is to extract energy from nutrients to produce ATP, the standard energy currency of our body. More mitochondria, more power available to our brain and our body, more fuel burned, more energy produced. It’s a generally good idea to have healthy, numerous mitochondria, and scientists are constantly trying to figure out how to preserve or increase their numbers because so many degenerative diseases are characterized by malfunctioning mitochondria. Well, sprinting is one way to make more. A single bout of 4×30 second all-out cycling sprints activated mitochondrial biogenesis in the skeletal muscle of human subjects in one study. Shorter sprints work, too. In fact, a program consisting of three sets of 5 4-second treadmill sprints with 20 seconds of rest in between each sprint, done three times per week for four weeks up-regulated molecular signaling associated with mitochondrial biogenesis.

6. It even works if you go slowly.

Allow me to expand on that statement: it even works if you go slowly because you’re pushing a heavy weighted sled. If that doesn’t sound like an advantage to you, consider someone who can’t run a flat-out sprint on a flat surface because of prior joint injuries. Pushing a heavy sled (or a car) slows the person down, thus reducing the joint impact, without making the exercise any less intense. Research shows that heavy sled pushing is extremely effective.

7. It’s more efficient than endurance training.

Obviously, sprint training takes less time to do than endurance training. But did you know it’s just as effective in many regards in a fraction of the time? Sprinting three times a week (4-6 times per session) was just as good as spending five days a week cycling for 40-60 minutes at improving whole body insulin sensitivity, arterial elasticity, and muscle microvascular density.

8. It takes way less time than you think.

A 30 second all out sprint is “just” 30 seconds, but it’s a hellish 30 seconds. A single hill sprint isn’t too bad, nor are two or three, but when you hit the eight, nine, ten sprint range, it gets rough. You will feel it after. Still better than slogging it out for an hour and half, mind you. I get the sense that most people think for any training to be effective, it has to hurt – even if only for twenty seconds or so. Actually, when you sprint, extremely brief intervals work very well. In this study, for example, subjects cycle-sprinted for a mere 5 seconds at a time and actively rested for 55 seconds in between sprints (that’s where you’re just casually pedaling on the cycle, equivalent to walking after a running sprint); that was enough to increase the maximum amount of work they were able to perform in 30 seconds. Instead of walking down the beach, I’ll sometimes traverse it in ultra-short sprint intervals: sprint for 5 seconds, walk for 20, sprint for 5, and so on. I don’t really even get winded doing this. Or if there’s a short (<10 meters) but steep hill, I’ll sprint up it, walk down, and repeat about a dozen times.

9. It’s a good excuse to get to the beach.

Doing your sprints on sand makes them more effective (and harder). A recent study found that sprint interval training sessions performed on sand resulted in better performances in subsequent training bouts, beating out grass as a training surface. I’ve also found that beach sprints enable post-training water plunges, regardless of water temperature.

10. It works for overweight people.

Sprinting may be the most daunting exercise of all for overweight people. How can moving that fast be safe or healthy? Well, there’s evidence that sprinting is extremely effective in this population. In a 2012 study (PDF), a group of overweight female students followed a 12-week sprint program consisting of 8-16 200 meter sprints done three days a week. After the program, body fat and body weight had gone down significantly, insulin sensitivity had improved by 100%, and V02max had increased. Another study, this time in overweight/obese men, found that a sprinting program (this time on a cycle) increased fat burning at rest while decreasing carb burning at rest – exactly what an overweight person needs to achieve to start burning body fat and become fat-adapted. The men also lost significant amounts of waist and hip fat.

11. It works for elderly people.

Oldsters needn’t stick with 2.5 pound dumbbells and “stretching workouts.” They can derive great benefit from high intensity interval training. Sure, they might go a bit slower than the rest of us. They might do better on exercise bikes than tracks. But they can still do it.

12. It improves glucose control and insulin sensitivity.

Diabetics, take heed. Sprint training improves insulin sensitivity, improves hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes, and lowers the postprandial glucose response in diabetics. You gotta start doing it if you’re not already.

13. It lowers high blood pressure.

Okay, while you’re sprinting, you’ll probably have sky-high blood pressure. That’s okay, that’s just an acute spike – it happens with any type of exercise. Overall, sprint training appears to have the most potential of any exercise modality for the long term resolution of hypertension.

14. It’s safe for people with heart disease.

Heart disease patients interested in improving their cardiovascular health are often told to start jogging or something similarly unpleasant. Why not sprinting? We already know it’s more effective against heart disease risk factors, and high intensity interval training has been shown to be safe in heart disease patients, particularly when they keep the intensity high and the duration low (15 seconds or thereabouts). Check with your doctor first, of course, just to be safe (but prepare yourself for the “jogging” lecture).

15. It comes in many forms.

When people hear “sprinting,” they think of 100 meter flat sprints on the track. Those are effective, sure, but they’re not the only way you can reap the benefits of sprint training. You can run hills (easier on the joints and more intense overall). You can cycle (easier on the joints and proven to work in dozens of sprinting studies). You can do it in the pool (either running in water or swimming). You can row or use the elliptical. Heck, if you loathe “cardio” of any kind you can probably get sprint-esque effects from lifting weights really quickly (think doing a set of 20 back squats or something similar). Upper body interval training works for general fitness in elderly hip replacement patients, for example. There’s something for everyone, which means there are almost no excuses not to sprint.

That’s what I’ve got. There are probably more reasons to sprint, but I think the 15 I discussed are a good start. So get to it!

What about you guys? Why do you sprint? What are you hoping to get out of it? What have you already gotten out of it? Let us know in the comment section!

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  1. YES! There’s a hill by my house, and I love to jog to it for a warm up, and then do 5-8 hill sprints. So many benefits – loved reading this as even more reinforcement :)

    Paige wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • Great post today. I can use the dozen or so reasons I didn’t know already with the various nay-sayers who’ve always got a reason not to take up sprint sessions.

      I get sprints in when walking the dog….who loves it more than I do! I also get them in on “weights day” at the gym, finishing my session with tabata training on the treadmill. I also use the spin bikes and watt bikes to do exactly the same.

      Adrian Keane wrote on January 23rd, 2014
      • Actually – I walk my dogs at least 6 miles per day; am going to incorporate sprints too! Thanks for the tip.

        AnnFlan wrote on January 23rd, 2014
    • I would run up any hill for you…

      Hill Crest wrote on January 11th, 2015
  2. And get off my Primal duff?

    Groktimus Primal wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  3. Does swimming sprint increase muscular mass/rips the same benefits as the dry-land sprint, because of the different way the body works in water/thermic effect?

    And, how do you know you are sprinting, not just trying really, really hard? Is there any objective measure that separates sprint from HIT?

    leida wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • Can’t tell you about swimming but aqua “aerobics” works great for me. Aerobics in parentheses because it is mostly sprints, resistance and flexibility. The instructors call the super fast movement “sprints.”

      If your tongue is hanging out and you are gasping for air, it is sprints, even if you are walking 1.5 mph in your walker instead of your usual 1 mph.

      If you can close your mouth, let alone talk, it isn’t sprints.

      Harry Mossman wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • When body is immersed in water, different muscle development laws act than on land, that causes different muscular profile. So, my question, again, is does swim sprints increase muscular mass more, less or the same as the land sprints do?

        Also, since legs has limited contribution, is that a better way to increase upper body mass only (when you do not want overdeveloped runner quad and calf?)

        leida wrote on January 22nd, 2014
        • Leida,

          Sprinting has nothing to do with which muscles you are using, at least not in regards to the benefits Mark discussed. It is about two things. Intensity and stress. Whether you are doing sprints on a rowing machine, a swimming pool or running a hill, it is the pushing your body with maximum intensity while slurping energy out of your muscles that causes the positive adaptations.


          Adam wrote on January 22nd, 2014
        • I did swimming sprints for several years, and do running sprints today. Its not so much a question of more or less muscle development, more a question of which muscles. Running sprints really work the glutes, quads and hamstrings. Look at any olympic sprinter and you’ll see what gets worked.

          OTOH, swimming sprints is much more shoulder work. Yes, your legs get worked, particularly in breaststroke sprints, but your glutes won’t fire anything like they do when running.

          So if you want to go for upper body mass, swim.

          Sonoran Hotdog wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • I have a swimming protocol which finishes with 6x50m laps, all as fast as possible with 30″-60″ rest between each lap. That’s sprinting!

      Garde wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  4. I agree!

    Humans were not “born to run”, they were born to sprint.

    Imagine how much fewer knee replacements there would be because of
    1. less mechanical wear-and-tear
    2. leaner bodies

    “Born to run” and “carb loading” go together. Both are nice fables.

    paleocrushmom wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • I strongly disagree. There are sprinters and lopers and shufflers, and everything in between — why should any running style be less legitimate than any other?

      Some people are “born to run”, and some are born to sprint/jump/climb/swim/ride/fight/dance, whatever. It doesn’t mean the person “born to run” can’t sprint, or vice versa. It just means he or she is probably BETTER at running than at sprinting as a result of body and personality type.

      I sprint wherever, whenever, because it’s exhilarating, and because I can, but I would never call myself a “sprinter”.

      SumoFit wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • Then why I can run a fair bit at an easy tempo and do not get injured, but if I sprint and run fast, my knee becomes unstable and hurts?

      Sprints, at least running sprints are not inherently safer than the longer, easier runs.

      leida wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • I’ve done a fair bit of middle distance running in my time and have never been any good at sprint running. I have arthritis in one knee from an injury in my teens and the impact from sprinting was unbearable.

        That was until I started bare-footing (VFFs); forefoot striking almost completely eliminates joint impact & I have found that the strengthening of my muscles has enabled me to improve stability and thus my sprint running form.

        I find if I ramp up from a jog in a smooth, gradual manner it’s a lot easier on the joints.

        I still prefer longer easy runs but I quiet enjoy sprinting now too.

        WelshGrok wrote on January 23rd, 2014
    • I believe the generations of hunters who survived by persistence hunting their dinner to death over an 8+ hour timeframe would beg to differ about humans not being “born to run.” If you haven’t done so yet, read the book of the same title.

      Paul wrote on January 23rd, 2014
      • Absolutely! Stealth and patience have always been the way of the hunter-gatherer. Only a lunatic Grok would try to run down his prey by sprinting.

        In my post “Walking with Lions” the video shows African hunters walking up to the lions’ dinner, cutting off a hunk, and WALKING away.

        Because of the effort and energy expenditure involved, I think sprinting was only done when necessary (fleeing a predator, charging an enemy, etc.), or for the sheer fun of it.

        SumoFit wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  5. Do kettlebell swings count as sprinting?

    Paul wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • First – I’ve done my share of KB swings. I just completed Dan John’s 10,000 kb challenge. I enjoy them and think they are an incredible workout tool.

      That said – KB swings do not feel the same as all out sprints. I use running and rowing sprints as that’s what I’m used to and enjoy. KB swings done explosively both from the bottom and the top are hard work, just different.

      KB swings are great. I love them, but try going all out springs intervals or rowing intervals and feel the difference. Airdyne intervals are also evil beasts.

      CoSteve wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • If you really want to kick your glutes and your lungs try adding body weight squats between sets of swings – just do them fast and with form.

        Sue wrote on January 23rd, 2014
    • You can’t really swing much faster than you already do and still keep good, safe form. Think about combining them with sprints if you can. Try the StrongFirst 3 getups and 10 swings left hand, 3 getups 10 swings right hand. Then add a 30 second sprint on the treadmill. My treadmill takes about 20 seconds to get up to speed, so I go for 50 seconds. 8-10 sets is plenty!

      Brad wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • After I was reading, was gonna add that KB swings are a great alternative to running sprints. They improve your recovery time big time. I see brad added in the TGU ( Turkish get up) which engages the whole body. Also great warm up before doing anything.

        30sec swing, 30 sec plank, 60 sec rest, for 20 min is a great workout for cardio and also a good fat burner.

        Look up anything by pavel the russian or Geoff neupert both real good KB resources.

        dchess693 wrote on January 22nd, 2014
        • I haven’t seen any improvement in my recovery time since I added swings to my workout several months ago. It may depend on where you are coming from – I’m a runner, so the incremental improvement would have to be from a fairly high baseline.
          I’ve also read that you have to be swinging fairly heavy to get the sprint effect. I am up to 24kg, one-handed, and that may not be enough to get the anaerobic benefit. I can’t go higher until I can convince my gym to buy a heavier KB :(

          Sonoran Hotdog wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  6. Thank you for this post that focuses on sprinting, Mark! :) Need to get as much info as I can, I think – I want to get more confident. Along with sprint sessions for fitness, I’m also trying to tackle sprint sessions to actually get faster at sprinting, because I’d like to be a sprinter on the track and field team.

    WarriorWolf wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  7. Google images for “sprinter vs marathoner body” and be amazed!

    Jim B. wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • instead of google. Much better search engine and greater fidelity with results.

      LCDR USN Ret wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • And supposedly better privacy.

        Harry Mossman wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • Thanks very much for the link to this search engine. I had no idea it existed and it is a welcome alternative to big brother.

        Garde wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • OK, I am convinced! Definitely going to sprint more this year… Those pictures are frightening.

      Simone wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • So, I googled. I think my favorite comparison was between the cheetah and the tiger. Sprints work in the wild also!

      Rema wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • I was indeed amazed!

      AnnFlan wrote on January 23rd, 2014
    • Thanks for that idea – definitely noteworthy!

      Susan B. wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  8. Every 2 days, I do intermittent sprint on my stationary bike. I cycle for 5 minutes, then sprint for 10 seconds at half strength of the tension, then 20 seconds at full strength of the tension. I throttled back for 90 seconds, then start again. I do until I reach 15 minutes. Is this qualifying as a “sprint” effort or intermittent? I am a bit confused.

    Richard Dufresne wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • I sprint no more than twice per week. Because of winter weather I am currently “sprinting” using a stationary bike as well. I am a 53 year old male and quite fit. In terms of tension / level just select what you’re comfortable with. I warm up for 3 minutes then go all out for 30 seconds followed by 90 seconds of slow cycling repeating this 8 times with a short cool down when finished for a total time of 20 minutes (only 4 minutes of all out effort). I always get my butt of the bike seat during the sprint portion (a couple of inches for sure). During the final 3-4 sprints my heart reaches its maximum rate and a little more for a guy of my age and fitness level. It’s a great workout. I love it! Although when the weather permits I’ll be at the soccer field sprinting in my vibram five fingers.

      Rob wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  9. Willing to look to add spriting to our walking – 24,000 steps in a seven day period,thanks for the foot work if you will – mark.

    aboutcreativity wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  10. Sprinter bodies = caveman bodies.

    I am a marathon runner and while training, I throw in sprints ..from telephone pole to telephone pole…. our term is ‘Fartlek’.

    leida…I believe sprinting is running as fast as you can.

    Jade wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • As fast as you can is by definition subjective. Fear of falling and injury and perceived exertion means it is never going to be a maximum effort. maximum effort is induced by external pressure, like competition and danger… so then you drop to HIT (really, really intense) from the ‘an all out’ definition. Does HIT has the same benefits as sprint, or do our fast runs are always too slow to gain the benefits that were outlined in the studies? Like those participants, where they are doing what they thought were all out, or did they have the researcher standing there and pushing them?

      leida wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • i hate sprints. wouldn’t do them for money. love doing jumpsquats with added weight though. which is just as brutal in HIIT terms.

        einstein wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  11. When it’s cold outside and icy, I like to do burpee sprints.

    Be careful doing the beach sprints…….once you get some sand up there, well……you know.

    Mike wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  12. I like Doug Mcguff’s philosophy on super slow training to maximum fatigue to fulfill some of the same effects. Can this sub for sprinting?

    David wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • My hypothesis: Super slow training will utilize your slow twitch muscles; sprinting, your fast twitch. Not to mention totally different breathing patterns. Either way you can be very tired at the end of either.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • This is not true. Slow and FT do not refer to the speed at which the fibers contract but to their fatigue characteristics.

        A set taken to momentary muscle fatigue engages the high threshold motor units.

        Fredrick Hahn wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • Read “body by science.” HIT slow training recruits all muscle types.

        matthew wrote on January 22nd, 2014
        • That’s what it says in Mark’s e-fitness book too. I just pulled it up to double check. It says “running sprints improves the endurance capacity in all muscle fibers, not just the fast ones, while low-intensity aerobic exercise only targets the slow twitch fibers.”

          Mind you, a bit earlier in the section, it says “Fast twitch fibers regulate powerful, explosive movements—stuff like Lifting Heavy Things and Sprinting Once in a While” So, in theory, one could still be exercising the fast twitch muscles if they lift heavy things regularly. But I’m not sure that you could properly replace all the benefits from sprinting by lifting heavy things and super slow training to maximum fatigue.

          b2curious wrote on January 22nd, 2014
        • Thanks for references, I’ll check it out.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  13. Last fall I found a Sunday morning pick-up Ultimate game with a good bunch of folks. I found that even though I was running at least 5K every day, I was not at all in shape for Ultimate! Tons of sprinting playing Ultimate!!

    So I dropped the 5K & only run a mile to warm up then so 30-40 second sprints till I run outa time. This is all on the treadmill because it’s currently -1F outside & icey.

    Hopefully I will be ready for Ultimate come March (or April).

    Joe S. wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  14. Sprinting is something that I did for a while, kinda quit, but need to start doing again. I could definitely see that it was beneficial. I just need to get back to doing it. Pushing a car or a heavy sled & getting similar results sounds interesting. I might have to try that to switch things up a bit. Thanks again.

    TJ wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  15. I do sprints once a week. What’s the upper limit of sprinting, per week?

    BM wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • Upper limit is less than self induced dry heaving.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • I’ve read that if you’re doing it right, you couldn’t possibly sprint more than 3 times a week because you’re muscles cannot recover fast enough.

      Nicole wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • *Your

        Wow, I couldn’t let that stand.

        Nicole wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  16. Alright Mark you sold me. Time to get back to sprinting, I’ve been slacking!

    The one additional aspect I like about sprinting is that the range of motion used, is hard to get elsewhere!

    Luke wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  17. Love sprinting. Would like to find an equivalent upper body “sprint”.

    TR wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • I agree. An upper body companion workout is a great idea. BTW, I love sprinting!

      Chris wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • Burpees. They hit your shoulders, chest and core. There’s a curve (I’m still on it!) to get to the point where heart-rate not strength is the limiting factor, but they definitely tick the intensity box

        Jon wrote on January 22nd, 2014
        • They also hit your knees and back — and not in a good way.

          Burpees were never meant to be done at high reps or as a regular part of a fitness regimen. They were designed for testing purposes, or, as Bonza Bodies’ Jamie Atlas so succinctly writes: “The burpee is an exercise created and designed to be done as a test for a short number of repetitions to predict a soldier’s ability to prevent lead poisoning.” :)

          SumoFit wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • How about punches?

      paleocrushmom wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • I think that counts. I have been going all out on a heavy bag or a reflex bag for 7 – 10, 30 second intervals once a week for the last year. I sometimes alternate with sprinting every other week. It’s a great way to condition upper and lower body.

        Steve wrote on January 22nd, 2014
        • Especially if someone has any lower body injury – even if they use a wheelchair – punches are an awesome cardiovascular workout.

          paleocrushmom wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • Battle ropes

      Jeremy wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • I think that’s where the “heavy sled pushing” comes into it, although the study mentioned is actually about “towing” rather than pushing — towing/pulling being the easier of the two.

      If you want a good whole-body sprint workout that requires a minimum amount of space — but does require a partner — check out Furious Pete’s attempt at a Sumo drill called “butsukari-geiko”. He makes a good first attempt, but his stance is waaaay too narrow, and he tries to muscle in with his upper body rather than driving forward from the hips.

      He looks pretty decent in a loin cloth though. 😉

      SumoFit wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • How about on a rowing machine? Usually more of a full-body effort, but you can certainly alter your technique if you’re looking for upper-body only.

      The one I use has a 500m with 1 min rest setting – about 2 mins on/1 min rest – a few of those at max effort will put you on the floor quite nicely.

      Stew wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • Try running as fast as you possibly can without moving your arms…

      When I do running sprints my legs, core, shoulders, arms, and back are stressed to the limit.

      Cody wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  18. I live in SD, on a farm, in the country. There has been a blizzard and high winds most of the time for the last month or so. I don’t think sprints are going to work right now for me. Could you maybe repost something like this when I can go out side.

    Debi wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • Debi, I live in the snowy north too. I finally broke down and bought a reasonably priced bike trainer that I can put my road bike on to do sprints during winter. At least I get to do sprints, and when warmer weather returns the trainer is pretty small to store away, unlike a real stationary bike. I like the variety of bike sprints in winter and hill running sprints the rest of the year.

      Rodney wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • Do you have access to a school gymanisum or an Indoor basketball court? Suicides and 17’s are grueling sprint based drills (17’s = run the baseline 17 times in a minute)

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • I live in one of the snowiest places in the world in upstate NY. For my sprinting in the winter I do jump roping …specifically double jumps. Do about 300 of those in different intervals and you will get a good sprint workout.

      John wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • In the w/inter I run up and down stairs (5 x 10 flights up and down) with 45 sec rests in between. By the end you are ready to throw up :)

      Evelyn wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  19. So, how many times per week should we be sprinting?? In the opening, it says “at least (and maybe at most) once a week”. Can you clarify what is best? Thanks!

    Vicki Oldenburg wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  20. I find sprinting to be one of the most efficient forms of exercise I do – a big bang from a time/benefit perspective. It’s been my experience that HILL sprints are much safer and more effective than sprinting on flat ground. Even if you are highly conditioned it can be pretty easy to pull a hamstring or quad doing a 90%+ sprint on flat ground. And most people don’t have much experience with proper sprinting technique to begin with. The steeper the hill the less chance you have of pulling anything and it requires little to no warm-up or stretching beforehand. I also wouldn’t recommend going at much more than 90% effort – just find a steep hill and you’ll get all the “intensity” you could possible want. For me, I find that my sweet spot is about 15 seconds of sustained hill sprinting – anything longer and my speed and form fall off too much. This requires matching up the length, pitch and surface of the hill to meet my objectives. No need to turn it into a science project, you get a feel for it pretty quickly.

    I try to sprint 4-5 times a week. I do them first thing in the morning. A good way to wake my body up and to start the day. I typically run the first couple at half or less speed just to warm up. The key for me is to not try to turn it into a sacred ritual or anything – just get out of bed and onto the hill before I can talk myself out of it. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly I go from sleepy/groggy to balls out sprinting in a matter of a couple minutes. There is no other exercise or activity I can do that gets me at peak readiness so immediately with so little preparation. In the warmer months I run on a hill at the beach (deep sand) and in the winter I run on a golf course hill. There’s nothing like a sand hill, but you have to go with what you have at hand.

    *LB wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  21. I sprint everyday on an eliptical. Not sure if I’m doing too much but feel good about the short time it takes and the results I’m getting. I believe I’m losing fat and retaining muscle a little better. Sprint 15 secs, rest 15 seconds for 8 cycles.

    Frogman wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  22. I hit a weight plateau a few months ago. I’d added some consistent bodyweight training and was walking but just couldn’t seem to get it to budge. I had tried flat sprints a couple months before the plateau and HATED them. They were exhausting and killed my knees and shins.

    After searching around on some health sites I follow, I decided to try hill sprints. They are also awful albeit without all the joint crushing. I’ve been doing them 1 – 2 times a week since and am about 10 lbs. beyond that plateau and still making progress (although there isn’t much progress left to make in terms of fat burning!).

    Joshua Hansen wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  23. I love the endorphins coursing thru my body about a half hour after sprinting. It usually lasts for a few hours too. Perfect post for the day…it’s also my sprinting day. Rain, wind, snow or sun!

    Nocona wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  24. What are some alternatives for people that live in colder climates, don’t have a access to a stationary bike or indoor track? Something we could do at home on days we’re not doing push ups, squats, pull ups, planks, etc. Would jumping rope have a similar effect?

    Bob wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • I second this question: it’s so icy on the roads and sidewalks where I live during winter (thanks to frequent snow and even more frequent freeze-thaw cycles) that it’s dangerous just stepping out the door of a car or building!

      M. wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • That’s my problem, too. I live in the Alps.
      During winter I replace sprints with upstair all out sprints (up to the 10th floor) or other on-place HIIT exercises like tabata burpees and tabata iron mikeys, which I can safely do in my living room (V5F optional but highly recommended 😉 ).

      Primal_Alex wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • Thanks for this response! I had to Google the iron mikes; now that I’ve seen them I recognize them from old Bodyrock workouts and they’re certainly killer. Along with the burpees it seems like a great way to “sprint.” Or to be honest, to start sprinting, since I’m currently not doing anything of the sort.

        Maybe these types of alternatives are preferable for some of us. I have a sketchy knee *and* managed to injure my right foot the last time I tried to engage in actual sprinting activity. Which was three years ago. The injury is long gone, but I was discouraged from doing them again.

        M. wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • How about stairs? I would imagine spriting stairs would be simialr to hill-sprints if you have access..

      Stew wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • I prefer to sprint outside no matter what the weather is like. Found a local park and I’ve been sprinting in the snow or patches of grass. I tried vibrams in the snow and my toes got numb so I switched to trail runners and the sprint sessions are awesome! If you don’t mind the snow flying around, I’d say its worth a try. I just do shorts and a t shirt. I guess it’s comparable to a 20-30 minute ice bath, but the workout prevents the shivering. Daytime temp around here is usually in the 30’s or 40’s this time of year.

      JT wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  25. I sprint because it just feels damn good!

    Kelly Harris wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  26. Hi Mark,

    I am currently doing advanced bodyweight cicuits, full body, 3 times a week. I do 2-3 circuits per session. Every circuit busts my ass and really pumps up my heart rate.

    Is this “sprint-esque”?

    Silvio wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  27. I’ve been having my martial arts class perform Tabata sprints every week (partially to motivate me to do them as well!). The end goal is to work up to the standard 20 sec work/10 sec rest x8 rounds. I can tell you, everyone is sucking wind by the time we’re done, but i’m loving it! Tonight is the first night we do 8-20 second rounds (but with 30 second rests). Wish us luck!

    Jacob wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  28. Just finished tabata burpees: 8 x (20s + 10s)

    Primal_Alex wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  29. I’ve been running 60-80 miles per month for the last couple of years at a pace of 9-10 min/miles. I decided to incorporate sprinting last week and did 2, 60 second sprints separated by 2 minutes of jogging in between at the end of a 20 min warmup run. Result: Super soreness on the second day after the sprint, and lasting almost a week! Mind you I run 6 or 7 miles at a stretch at my usual pace with no ill effects at all. I believe that incorporating sprinting will be helpful in achieving a better level of fitness, but the reality was that I was so sore that day to day activities were unpleasant much less sprinting again. So what’s the solution – starting with even shorter sprints of say 30 seconds??

    Gary Yencich wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • Start off by gradually getting into it – slower the first few sessions, and sprint only 60 yards max. Running endurance as you have for so long takes away from your ability to sprint as much as sitting too much. Start doing some squats – 2x per week, gradually adding weight, until you get at least 6 reps with 1.5x body weight. The soreness will lessen as you adapt, but adapting means less endurance running. Stretch.

      David Marino wrote on January 22nd, 2014
      • I’ll give that a try. I just finished an hour run with 2, 15-20 second sprints in the middle, which was probably more than the 60 yards you recommended. I’ll see how it goes and adjust down if necessary and try doing the squats. Thanks David!

        Gary Yencich wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  30. Does really fast walking work – the sort that leaves your muscles burning? Would be useful if you had joint impact problems.

    Jenny wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • It’s about intensity – you’ve got to be pushing yourself as hard as you can for it to count as a sprint. Though there are alternatives to the stereotypical sprint (simply running as fast as you can). In the article above, if you read under the bold print sections “It works if you go slowly” and “It comes in many forms.” Under the section about slow sprinting, it involves pushing/pulling something heavy so you are moving slowly, but still getting the intensity, and it’s easier on the joints. Under the section for many forms it mentions that sprinting uphill is easier on the joints.

      b2curious wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  31. Hey Primal Pals– Grokkers–

    Sprinting from your car to McDonalds for a Big Mac doesn’t count!

    Mark– Thanks for the motivations– this is what’s been missing from my exercise–once a week is not enough–going to ramp up to 3-4 times/week

    Pastor Dave Deppisch wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  32. Hi Mark,

    if i can’t go outside sprinting can i do those exhausting intervalls with a speed rope too? Thx.

    Nina K. wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • In the last section, under the bold print “It comes in many forms” Mark mentions that there are lots of ways to sprint. He even gives a few examples, which certainly does not include all the ways there are to sprint. I’d say your intervals with a speed rope count. In Mark’s e-fitness book Primal Blueprint Fitness, in the section about sprinting he says “Sprinting is about moving as fast as possible and getting the heart rate high quickly. It’s more about
      effort than speed.” and “Maintaining maximum effort is basically as simple as running (or biking, or rowing, etc) as fast as you can and then stopping when you note a drop off.” This again, to me, supports the speed rope counting as a sprint.

      b2curious wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  33. Love the dig at our future leaders: “…but even in young adults with an intellectual disability, …”

    KenCo wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • Does hitting the “fire” button really fast count sprinting? 😉

      WelshGrok wrote on January 23rd, 2014
    • I’m sorry, but I don’t see the dig at our future leaders in that comment. The link goes to an article with the title “The influence of sprint interval training on body composition, physical and metabolic fitness in adolescents and young adults with intellectual disability: a randomized controlled trial.”

      b2curious wrote on January 27th, 2014
  34. Now you know why Mark moved to southern California, even though he is from Maine. He can run sprints outside all year. He avoids the the cold feet, ankles, and achilles tendons. He avoids the lower leg under use and inflexibilities that come with walking in boots for a long winter.

    In the north unless you have access to an indoor heated building with enough space to sprint you can’t do it. Unless you stay on top of exercising and stretching the lower legs only after they are sufficiently warm (which may talk a sauna) you can’t sprint.

    David Marino wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • Oh, you can try, but you will most likely get injured.

      David Marino wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  35. Just finished Spin Class and it was a sprint class. Felt nauseated most of the class, but I did it! Then, 2 of my crazy spin buddies who are training for a triathlon, got me to swim with them, even though I still felt sickly. (I managed 12 x 50 and cool down.) Glad I did it. Felt so much better than I thought I would. Sprinting works! (I’m over age 50, and getting lots of compliments.) I must be in a spin class to actually “sprint,” however, because I need the instructor to push me past my comfort zone. Our spin instructor happens to be a triathlon coach too, so she really knows her stuff and makes it a blast. Thanks for the reinforcement, Mark–I’ll think of this post when I’m dying in next Monday’s spin class!

    Ann Marie wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  36. During the winter I try to do Treadmill Sprints as I call them at least once a week. Heard Relentless Roger talk about them a while ago. Turn the treadmill off, and push it as fast as you can. Use whatever intervals you like. At the top of the minute, do 10, 20, or 30 counts, then rest to next minute. See if you can do 6 then 8 sets. Once you are up to 8, increase count, which will decrease rest. (I count when my Left foot hits the TM.)

    Good luck, these are very hard.

    Mike wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  37. I disagree that women can’t get big and bulky. I think it depends on how you develop muscle mass. I could be a body builder the way I beef up so fast! LOL

    gena wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  38. The problem is, sprinting can be very hard on the joints, tendons and ligaments.

    A slow and controlled, high intensity resistance training program performed 1-3 times a week will provide all the benefits of sprinting without imparting any of the potential harm.

    Fat loss is best achieved via a healthful diet. There is no need to rely on exercise for fat loss at all if your diet is sound.

    Fredrick Hahn wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  39. I wish sprinting could catch on and be as trendy as distance running.

    I desperately want to setup a Sprint club or something in Austin and see if we can’t get a nice community going.

    Kevin wrote on January 22nd, 2014
    • I am so ridiculously out of shape, and would feel slightly embarassed to attempt sprinting in front of other people. That said, for some odd reason, a Sprint club would be the one kind of workout club that did not terrify me! I’m in ATX, too and would be interested. I think it might attract people to kind of come out of hiding since it seems less daunting than your typical “runner’s club” or trying to join the “more Primal than thou” Tough Mudder types. No offense to either, by the way! Sprinting just seems more….fun?

      RainbowSerpent wrote on January 22nd, 2014
  40. Sprinting, Jogging, Walking any exercise must be good for the soul and body.

    All the best Jan

    Jan wrote on January 22nd, 2014

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