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Sprinting.... Does it matter what you do?

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  • Sprinting.... Does it matter what you do?

    I ask this because I am not going to be running anytime soon. I'm too heavy still and I have dodgy ankles already, it's too much of an injury risk for me.

    So, here's what I did. I used my kettlebell. I have a 16kg bell and I did KB swings for 60 seconds with 2 minutes of slow walking around in between. 60 seconds of swinging just about kills me and my HR was up at 90-95% max. I managed 4 sprints before I collapsed.

    Is this ok or am I missing the point? I'm good with the 5+ hours of 55-75% intensity stuff. I lift 3 times a week, plus do push-up and pull-up practice, but till now I haven't done any sprinting because of the running thing (I don't go to a gym btw before anyone recommends stationery bikes or rowing machines).

    So what do you guys think?
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  • #2
    Hard to say.

    Jon Gabriel has a story about his fat housecat who liked to lie in the neighbour's front yard while the dog inside the house went nuts. One day the neighbour let the dog out on the unsuspecting cat, who had to run for its life. Jon didn't see the cat for a couple of days. When the cat came back, it was scratched up and in bad shape. Jon let the cat recover and gave it all the food it could possibly want, and even though it ate all it wanted, it gradually dropped all the extra weight it was carrying around and became pretty lean.

    The idea is that all-out sprints send certain signals to your body that say, "we need to be lighter, and fast, because all this extra fat is a liability!" Running as fast as you can from an imaginary predator or towards some kind of prey is the traditional way this is done, of course. With your kettlebell workout, your heart may be pounding and you may be exhausted, but who knows if your body is getting the same message? Your ability to perform those movements is much less hindered by being overweight in comparison to sprinting. It's probably still very good for you, but whether it's as effective as sprints is hard to tell.
    You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

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    • #3
      Back when I was able to sprint, I was "sprinting" by powering up the steepest hill I could find (verrry steep, in the San Francisco Bay Area). It took all of maybe 2, 2-1/2 minutes to accomplish, but I was spent -- legs were like noodles and I could barely make it back to my place and I was gasping like a dying fish (and I was in the best shape of my life then). Even though I was doing it just once a week, fat was melting off me at such a rapid rate that it actually alarmed me. Nothing I had ever done (and I've done A LOT over the years) held a candle to that in terms of rapid body composition change. SO, Em, it's very worth your while to find something that approximates "sprinting." (And the great thing is you only have to do it once a week!!)

      Do you have any steep hills there that you can speed walk up? (Or maybe you have a treadmill that you can crank up to the highest incline?) Another option is running (or more like thrash your way) across a swimming pool or lake while you pretend a shark is chasing you (which is what I'm doing right now). Got access to a pool or a lake? What about a high school stadium where you can walk the stairs, with a heavy backpack on? I'd say those 16-kg KB swings could be a sort of sprint. You're going heavier and longer than I am, and my legs are trembling when I'm done too! (I can't help it -- I end up grunting like a Russian weight lifter at about the 45-second mark.) How many days are you doing your KB swings? (just curious) I am twice a week on those.
      Last edited by TigerLily; 03-29-2011, 08:39 PM.
      "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates

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      • #4
        I cant do running sprints right now.

        my favorite sprint workout right now is using an aerobics step. Facing a clock......go on the minute

        If you are really out of shape start with no risers or 1 riser. up-up-down-down = 1

        Do 20 reps as fast as you can. Rest until the end of the minute. The first set maybe your interval is 12-15 seconds and you rest for 45-48 seconds. So the faster you go the longer you rest. repeat. Every 3 sets add a riser (time to add the riser is included in your minute you do not get extra rest). Continue until you can not complete 20 steps in 30 seconds. (push yourself to do as much as you can) If you get beyond 12 sets, next time start with a higher step.

        If this is still too hard on your ankles use an elliptical and pick an rpm to hit for 20 seconds.
        MTA: because it is rare I dont have more to say

        "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - my daughter Age 7

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        • #5
          Thanks for the replies folks.

          I guess I thought that the purpose of the sprints was to get you to do something to exhaustion, rest a bit, then do it again. That's why I thought KB swings would do it as they get my HR up so high. I'd never really thought about them in terms of the 'pretend something's chasing you' mindset.

          So TigerLily and Grumpy, are you suggesting that the mental exercise of pretending you're running for your life is part of the reason sprints are effective? It's an interesting thought if that's the case.

          I like the swimming idea and might give that a try, I know a 50m lap of all-out freestyle would have me gasping for air by the end of it!

          Runnergirl, I have a good step I could use for that stepping up exercise, I might give that a try too.

          So general consensus... KB swings are great but not for sprinting, right?
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          • #6
            Originally posted by NourishedEm View Post
            Is this ok or am I missing the point?
            There are other ways of engaging your fast twitch muscles and depleting their glycogen.

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            • #7
              I'm not sure what your point is.

              The article has several points that don't appear to be applicable to me (or anyone following primal to the letter)

              1) Work out hard - I do that, with weight-lifting and body-weight exercises.
              2) Do not eat a 'gluttonous' diet high in carbohydrates - I don't, I eat a primal/paleo diet.
              3) Ensure you have adequate selenium intake - I do, I'm hypothyroid and have to watch this especially carefully.

              I started this thread looking for alternatives to running that achieves the same effect as sprinting. Where in your link does it have suggestions for that?
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              • #8
                I am not able to sprint due to a bad knee - it can't handle the impact; even when i run on my toes i am not able to reach full effort/speed due to pain. So I do stairmaster intervals: 30-40 seconds max effort (as in the maximum level the machine allows), then 60-90 seconds recovery on very low resistance level (level 2 or 3). Repeat 4-8 times. I usually get to 6, rarely to 8. All done. Repeat every ten days.
                42 yo female; 5'8"
                Oct 2009: 205 lbs
                Dec 2010: 167 lbs
                Current weight: 158 lbs (first time under 160 in 17 years!!!)
                Goal weight: 145 lbs

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by NourishedEm View Post
                  So TigerLily and Grumpy, are you suggesting that the mental exercise of pretending you're running for your life is part of the reason sprints are effective? It's an interesting thought if that's the case.
                  That might have something to do with it but it's hard to really simulate that in your mind. I think it has more to do with moving your whole body through space at speed, which excess fat hinders.
                  You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

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                  • #10
                    Please don't do kettlebell swings all-out to failure!

                    Kettlebell swings are one of the best things ever, but they should only be done to a comfortable stop. ...ie. when form breaks down/grip is failing/tension at the top of the swing is lost etc

                    Try this:

                    Get a clock/timer and do 10 swings at the top of each minute. For 10 minutes.

                    That's 10 good swings, which will probably take around 20 sec, then 'actively rest*' for the other 40 sec or so and go again.

                    *walk around/jog/skip rope/hit a punchbag/jumping jacks, planks, whatever. I personally like to do pushups


                    That's 100 swings ...not bad

                    next time, do 12 swings each minute ...that's 120

                    next time, do 15 swings a minute. (You'll notice swinging time increases and rest between sets decreases)

                    Then next time, do 15 swings a minute, but for 12 minutes.

                    Work up to 20 swings a minute for 12 minutes. That's 240 swings and not a bad workout!

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                    • #11
                      If you feel safe doing them (i.e. no fear of injury), how about trying some burpees? If you have access to a mattress or some other soft ground area, you could trying doing them on that. If burpees are too heavy (i.e. painful), how about just running in place, lifting your legs (knees) as high as you can? You can do this at full speed to get nearly the same heart rate as sprinting.

                      Here's a video demo I found:



                      You can alternate between lifting knees high and trying to "kick" yourself in the behind by lifting your feet up behind you.
                      Last edited by norak; 03-30-2011, 03:40 AM.
                      Norak's Primal Journal:
                      2010-07-23: ~255lbs, ~40.0"
                      2011-11-03: ~230lbs, ~35.5"
                      2011-12-07: ~220lbs, ~34.0"

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Grumpy Caveman View Post
                        Hard to say.

                        Jon Gabriel has a story about his fat housecat who liked to lie in the neighbour's front yard while the dog inside the house went nuts. One day the neighbour let the dog out on the unsuspecting cat, who had to run for its life. Jon didn't see the cat for a couple of days. When the cat came back, it was scratched up and in bad shape. Jon let the cat recover and gave it all the food it could possibly want, and even though it ate all it wanted, it gradually dropped all the extra weight it was carrying around and became pretty lean.

                        The idea is that all-out sprints send certain signals to your body that say, "we need to be lighter, and fast, because all this extra fat is a liability!" Running as fast as you can from an imaginary predator or towards some kind of prey is the traditional way this is done, of course. With your kettlebell workout, your heart may be pounding and you may be exhausted, but who knows if your body is getting the same message? Your ability to perform those movements is much less hindered by being overweight in comparison to sprinting. It's probably still very good for you, but whether it's as effective as sprints is hard to tell.
                        THIS, AND ONLY THIS.

                        It's kind of like Mark's blog entry about the house cat and the crickets, did you get to read that one? Basically this cat owner had a cat (or cats?) that seemed depressed, and were having major bowel issues (little suckers couldn't go #2) so the owner got them some crickets to "hunt" around the house. Almost overnight the cats were back to normal, going to the bathroom regularly and just seemed to have their mojo back.

                        We as humans also need this sort of "hunt" periodically, or to escape. We can do this mostly by running/sprinting. Once you're more proficient maybe you can try some parkour style movements, parkour to me seems like the modern equivalent of chasing down prey by figuring out what to do around and obstacle rather than folding your arms and going back home with an empty belly. Obviously parkour has other dangers, but it's something to think about in the long run.

                        So, start slow but don't over-limit yourself thinking about the possibility of an injury. Even if you only do ONE sprint, I think it's better than any other replacement.

                        Sprinting = real turkey
                        kettlebell swings = tofurkey.

                        One of my favorite indoor heart-rate elevation workouts are tuck jumps. Squat down, explode into a jump and bring your knees to your chest, as you come down absorb the fall with the balls of your feet and as soon as you're in a squat position repeat the movement, the point is to do this with no rest, as if you were springing up. I've worked up to 3 sets of 15 that I do maybe once or twice a week if I have NOT done a sprint that week. They work my legs for sure, and I'm certainly out of breath, but my body is just NOT sore like it is after a proper sprint. Also the "feeling" is not there with tuck jumps, after a minute or so my heart rate is back to normal and I feel fine. After hard sprints I need at least an hour, sometimes two for my body to go back to normal. Sprinting works muscles like you wouldn't believe, definitely get out there and try your luck at some faster runs. Wear minimalist footwear (flats, perhaps) because running shoes could lead to a twisted ankle. I JUST got back to sprinting, after a very foolish and long absence from it and I'm working up to 10 again. Last time I did them I only managed five, but my body was kicking my ass for 3 days after. Sprinting is an amazing tool for strength and to shed body fat. Like Grumpy said, it definitely most decidedly signals your body "we need to be light and fast, we have to let go of this body fat" at the end of the day, it all comes down to hormonal signaling, remember that!
                        Last edited by iniQuity; 03-30-2011, 04:35 AM.
                        I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by norak View Post
                          If you feel safe doing them (i.e. no fear of injury), how about trying some burpees? If you have access to a mattress or some other soft ground area, you could trying doing them on that. If burpees are too heavy (i.e. painful), how about just running in place, lifting your legs (knees) as high as you can? You can do this at full speed to get nearly the same heart rate as sprinting.

                          You can alternate between lifting knees high and trying to "kick" yourself in the behind by lifting your feet up behind you.
                          That's a great idea Norak, thanks. That reminds me of something I used to do when I was using the EA wii sports game called firefeet, where you get into a low position with your knees bent and then basically run on the spot for as long as you can. That used to KILL me! That might be worth a try too.
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                          • #14
                            I love my k-bells and use them to snatch / clean&jerk / press usually a few times a week. So I think they are great - but I'm not sure they work the same way as sprints even through heart rate can get up to near max. I'm not an expert here, but the difference may be the fast twitch muscle fibers. The kettlebell exercises use a lot of force through the hip drive but this may not be the same type of motion that propels the entire body off the ground like a sprint which has a more plyometric quality. This matters because according to some sources it is the fast twitch muscle fibers that release the most growth hormone; this hormone literally tells the body to burn fat and build muscle. The reason why sprints are effective is not just because they are exhausting (lots of things can do that) but the movement involves a lot of fast twitch muscle fibers.

                            So if you cannot run, the burpees might be better option if you can do those because of the jumps. If those are out of the question due to ankle I'd say try to learn the snatch because that is a little more explosive movement than the swing so that should release more growth hormone.

                            Usually people snatch with a lighter weight than swings. If you just have one bell now and the swings are challenging enough then stick with those, also learn to press and then later you'll be strong enough to snatch. If you already have a lighter bell around then you can get going on circuits like this: snatch 10, switch arms, snatch 10 more; rest 30 secs (or longer if necessary); repeat etc. This will be quite a workout!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by iniQuity View Post
                              THIS, AND ONLY THIS.

                              It's kind of like Mark's blog entry about the house cat and the crickets, did you get to read that one? Basically this cat owner had a cat (or cats?) that seemed depressed, and were having major bowel issues (little suckers couldn't go #2) so the owner got them some crickets to "hunt" around the house. Almost overnight the cats were back to normal, going to the bathroom regularly and just seemed to have their mojo back.

                              We as humans also need this sort of "hunt" periodically, or to escape. We can do this mostly by running/sprinting. Once you're more proficient maybe you can try some parkour style movements, parkour to me seems like the modern equivalent of chasing down prey by figuring out what to do around and obstacle rather than folding your arms and going back home with an empty belly. Obviously parkour has other dangers, but it's something to think about in the long run.

                              So, start slow but don't over-limit yourself thinking about the possibility of an injury. Even if you only do ONE sprint, I think it's better than any other replacement.

                              Sprinting = real turkey
                              kettlebell swings = tofurkey.

                              One of my favorite indoor heart-rate elevation workouts are tuck jumps. Squat down, explode into a jump and bring your knees to your chest, as you come down absorb the fall with the balls of your feet and as soon as you're in a squat position repeat the movement, the point is to do this with no rest, as if you were springing up. I've worked up to 3 sets of 15 that I do maybe once or twice a week if I have NOT done a sprint that week. They work my legs for sure, and I'm certainly out of breath, but my body is just NOT sore like it is after a proper sprint. Also the "feeling" is not there with tuck jumps, after a minute or so my heart rate is back to normal and I feel fine. After hard sprints I need at least an hour, sometimes two for my body to go back to normal. Sprinting works muscles like you wouldn't believe, definitely get out there and try your luck at some faster runs. Wear minimalist footwear (flats, perhaps) because running shoes could lead to a twisted ankle. I JUST got back to sprinting, after a very foolish and long absence from it and I'm working up to 10 again. Last time I did them I only managed five, but my body was kicking my ass for 3 days after. Sprinting is an amazing tool for strength and to shed body fat. Like Grumpy said, it definitely most decidedly signals your body "we need to be light and fast, we have to let go of this body fat" at the end of the day, it all comes down to hormonal signaling, remember that!
                              Great, so my workout is the vegan equivalent of sprints!

                              Ok, ok, you guys have talked me into it, I'll give it a go. I just got some Vibram KSOs this week so maybe they will be the go for footwear.

                              If I get injured though, ima gonna hunt you and grumpy down... just saying.
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