Friday, May 25, 2007

Don't Just Run: Sprint!

If you've been doing long, slow cardio, such as jogging, cycling, or swimming, for awhile without losing much weight or becoming much leaner even though you keep increasing your workouts, there is a simple explanation: too much cardio actually makes you fat. Excessive cardio increases stress hormones and down regulates the hormones, such as growth hormone and testosterone, that preserve muscle. In addition, elevated stress hormones make you insulin resistant, which leads to overeating as well as to eating foods that contribute to insulin resistance, such as sugars and starches.

Despite their appearance, many joggers and cyclists are not really lean. They may be slender because they have little muscle mass, but their body fat percentages are often surprisingly high.. In contrast, sprinters are lean and muscular with low body fat percentages. They have high human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone levels--good for both females and males. Think back to the last track meet you saw. Who would you rather look like: the sprinters or the distance runners?

Benefits of Sprinting

1) Sprinting will reduce body fat and strengthen you far more than long, slow cardio because sprinting requires maximal recruitment of muscle. After about 8 seconds, sprinting sends acid signals to the muscles, which activates the fast twitch fibers. Fast-twitch fibers are thicker than slow twitch fibers, and it is fast twitch fibers that grow in size when activated by the right training.

2) Sprinting naturally increases human growth hormone. Human growth hormone increases muscle mass, thickens and adds flexibility to the skin, enhances the immune system, promotes weight loss through fat redistribution and loss, and increases stamina.

3) Sprinting strengthens your cardiovascular system with brief bursts of high intensity followed by long periods of recovery. You strengthen your skeletal muscles by doing heavy, low-repetition sets with long recoveries. You should strengthen your heart the same way. Sprinting doesn't cause the continuous stress on the heart that long, slow cardio does.

4) Sprint workouts are short and a lot more fun than long, boring cardio workouts.

The Definition of Sprinting

Based on the misleading articles and workouts I've seen posted all over the web, I'd better define what sprinting is. Sprinting is not just running faster than a jog. You cannot "sprint" for 30-60 second or even more with an equal recovery for 6-10 repetitions as some fitness "experts" advise. This is an anaerobic or interval workout. It's far better for you than plodding along the road or on a treadmill, but it's not sprinting and won't give you the benefits mentioned above. Sprint means "to race or move at full speed." Think playing tag or running to first base after a hit. Sprint workouts feature short, high-intensity repetitions and long, easy recoveries.

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Where to Do a Sprint Workout

A track is the best place to do sprints because it's marked (in meters), and its surface is ideal for sprinting. A grass or dirt surface is next best; however, check your course for gopher holes and such before starting your sprints. Twisting an ankle will end your sprint workouts for awhile. The one place not to do your sprint workout is on concrete. Your back will thank you.

How to Do a Sprint Workout

Start your workout by warming up for about 5 minutes. Measure out a course from 50-100 yards (or meters) long. Remember that you need to sprint at least 8 seconds before your body sends the signals that produce human growth homone. Do 5-10 repetitions. The total distance of your sprints should not exceed 400-800 yards or meters. Between repetitions, walk slowly at least twice the distance that you ran. This should take from 1-2 minutes. Don't jog to "keep your heart rate up." You need to recover so that each repetition can be run at close to full speed. No matter what workout you planned, if you reach a point where you can't sprint because of fatigue, quit. Jogging to "finish" the workout won't do you any good since intensity is the objective, not volume.

If you're out of your teens and haven't been sprinting for a year or more, you will probably not be able to sprint at full speed right away. You should allow yourself at least a week for every decade you've lived to build up to full speed sprinting. In other words, if you're 40 and haven't been doing any sprinting in the past year, allow at least 4 weeks of gradually increasing the speed of your sprints before trying to go full speed in your workout. Even then, it doesn't hurt to hold back a little on the first repetition or two of each session.

How Often to Do a Sprint Workout

If you're running, cycling, swimming, etc. in addition to sprinting, limit your sprint workouts to twice a week with at least 48-72 hours between. If you're not doing anything else but strength training, you can go to 3 times a week if you want.

Sprinting is a natural and valuable human activity. If you think back to when you were a kid, how many times did you jog for miles? Almost never, right? On the other hand, you probably sprinted nearly every day on the playground, the athletic field, or just down the street. If you want to maintain a youthful body, you have to continue to do the things that youthful bodies naturally do. Sprinting is one of those things.

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214 comments:

1 – 200 of 214   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

this article was very helpful for me, thank you for clearing up a lot of questions i had about sprinting.

Anonymous said...

what is sprinting???

Michael Paladin said...

Read the article before posting comments. There is a section called "Definition of Sprinting."

David said...

I don't get the whole "8sec" thing. If I punched someone in their face it would take like .5sec and all my fast twitch fibers would light up to punch as quickly as possible. Or if if try to jump as high as I can or if I'm doing a power clean...

Michael Paladin said...

It takes 8 seconds of sprinting to cause human growth hormone to be produced.

Anonymous said...

Very cool, informative article. I learned alot of important things to help me incorporate sprinting into my current program. Thank you.

James CFAddiction said...

Hey Mike, great article. I just linked to it from my CrossFit blog. Keep up the great work. I'll subscribe RSS too, always looking for educated content. SO much bs out there...

Anonymous said...

Quote "It takes 8 seconds of sprinting to cause human growth hormone to be produced"

And how do you know this? whats the source?

Michael Paladin said...

How do you not know this? Here's one source.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to do this on the treadmill? It is too cold where I live to do this outside right now.

Also, I have never been into cardio and prefer strength workouts as a rule. Is it possible to go right into this type of training without first easing into a cardio routine?

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to follow your sprinting program on a treadmill?

If you are not an experienced runner is it ok to launch into this type of program?

Michael Paladin said...

Re-read the definition of sprinting. You cannot sprint on a treadmill.

Michael Paladin said...

Sprinting and cardio use different systems, which have little to do with one another. When I ran track, we did no cardio whatsoever, unless you count a half-mile warm-up as cardio.

Anonymous said...

I have done nothing but heavy weight training for the past few years and jump rope quite often, out of the blue I wanted to sprint today and it gave me one of the best pumps I have had in a while and wanted to know more about it. Outstanding article.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

This is a great article. I am 56 years young and started strength training about two months ago. I want to start running and sprinting has always been a desire of mine. I ran sprints in high school. Are there any special considerations that I should be aware of in sprinting at my age?

Thanks.

Michael Paladin said...

None of these cautions is really unique to older sprinters, but they need to be more religious about observing them.

1) Start slowly. It should be weeks before you try to hit top speed.

2) Don't do sprints on asphalt or concrete. Use grass, sand, or a track.

3) If you feel tenderness, a tweak, or a twinge in your quads or hamstrings, take time to stretch them after the rep. If it's still there after the next rep, quit the workout. Better to cut short a workout, than miss several weeks while a strained or pulled muscle recovers.

Sprinting will make you feel athletic and alive in a way that slow aerobics can never do.

tiro said...

the part about working the heart as one might with lifting weights i don't take to be very intelligent. that is, the point of exercise is NOT always to build a hypertrophied heart; sometimes, in fact, that is a bad thing. the more important part of exercise is to keep your vasculature healthy: to maintain the PHYSICAL limberness of vessels so that they can expand and contract as necessary to appropriately supply their organs; and to maintain PHYSIOLOGICAL limberness, by keeping the (endothelial) cells which cover the insides of the vessels healthy, IE not coated in cholesterol plaque, so that they can do their job (again, signaling to muscles to expand/contract as necessary). to reiterate, the more important point of exercise is to keep your vasculature healthy, not just the heart, because the vasculature, when not clogged, is what directly supplies blood to and thus keeps all of the other organs in the body healthy.

it's long distance running, not sprinting, increases the good cholesterol (HDL) that scavenges/removes the bad cholesterol (LDL) from plaques in arteries. given this, that both sprinting and long distance running each add a unique element to vasculature health, it seems that a mix of both is the optimal workout routine.

aside from that though, peter thought it was a good article that highlighted some good points.

Michael Paladin said...

Between the two, sprinting is far more beneficial than long-distance running. If you can handle the work load, intervals and sprinting might be a good combination. Otherwise, just do intervals or sprinting and ditch the long-distance running. It's bad for you.

VVDV said...

sprinting up hills is a better alternative to sprints on flat ground, as when sprinting on flat ground your bones, knees ect suffer fairly heavy shock force. When sprint up hills you remain on your toes allowing your muscles and tendons to absorb much of the possibly damaging shock.

Anonymous said...

"The total distance of your sprints should not exceed 400-800 yards or meters."

By this do you mean that EACH REP should be between 400-800 yards/meters, or the 5-10 reps added together should be between 400-800 yards/meters?

Also you mentioned 8 seconds is the minimum to get the HGH, how long would be ideal for each rep?

Great article. Thanks!

Michael Paladin said...

From the post: "You cannot "sprint" for 30-60 second or even more with an equal recovery for 6-10 repetitions as some fitness "experts" advise.... Measure out a course from 50-100 yards (or meters) long."

The total distance of repetition should not exceed 400-800 meters. Reps between 8-12 seconds are fine.

whatagrl said...

I too am an "older" sprinter (45.5 y/o female). I'm trying to get in more anaerobic exercise to help burn fat. I am a T2 diabetic with insulin resistance, and my endocrinologist, if I have been consistent with my diet and exercise, is willing to try me on HGH supplementation this June. Can I still use HIIT/sprinting while taking supplemental HGH?

Lisa
Kindergarten teacher
California

Michael Paladin said...

As long as you're checking in with your doctor regularly, you can.

Anonymous said...

i thought this was very informative.my husband just started me on sprints and now this just backed up what he couldnt explain to me :)

also im really sorry you get all the smarta** comments from all the "know it alls". i just appreciate you doing this article.

Michael Paladin said...

Most people can't think for themselves. They simply spout the propaganda they've been force fed about the benefits of aerobic exercise over any other kind.

If they would just stop and think though, they would realize that children almost never run long distances non-stop. It's simply unnatural to human beings. We are made to sprint, jump, and run in stops and starts, speeding up and slowing down.

Basketball and soccer are two sports which fit human abilities well. Is it a coincidence that they're the two most popular sports in the world? Most long-distance runners fare badly when they try either sport. Their vaunted aerobic capacity isn't what's needed on the basketball court or soccer field.

Anonymous said...

"Re-read the definition of sprinting. You cannot sprint on a treadmill." But the source you cited regarding human growth hormone says that you can do sprints on a treadmill? "Sprint means 'to race or move at full speed'"...ok so what's the definition of full speed? Isn't that pretty relative to the person, and if so than why couldn't someone who's full speed is 8 mph "sprint" (by definition) on a treadmill?

Michael Paladin said...

What's the definition of full speed? You must be kidding. Full speed is as fast or close to as fast as you can possibly run. Full speed isn't relative to the person; it's relative to other people or possibly to the distance being run. However, even well-trained athletes can't sprint more than 400 meters (really about 300). Although the speeds at which world class 800 and 1500 meter runners run their races would be many people's full speed, it's not even close to full speed for them for them.

Though the study cited used a treadmill because it's necessary for measurement, I don't know of any treadmill on the market on which a person could honestly sprint. Eight miles an hour (7:30 a mile) is my jogging speed, and I'm not a distance runner. For that to be someone's "full speed," they would have to be very fat or very old.

Why are people constantly trying to re-define slow running as sprinting? Why the resistance to actually running fast? Is it fear, laziness, or something else? I can't figure it out.

leah said...

Great article, thanks. I have been sprinting 2-3 times a week for the last 6 weeks and have noticed incredible results! I'm finally getting rid of the excess belly fat from my pregnancy and my butt and legs have slimmed down a lot too.

Michael Paladin said...

Glad to hear you're getting the results you were looking for, Leah. Other people would, too, but they're either too lazy, or they believe the propaganda that long, slow aerobics burns fat. (It does if you do enough of it, but it also destroys muscle mass.)

Anonymous said...

I found this article very helpful. I have started training to be able to run a 5K (I've never been one for running). I thought about trying sprinting and read this article. I've only had one session of sprinting, but really liked it and will continue with it as an alternative to the interval running I have been doing. I felt much better after the sprints than I do after 3 miles of run/walk and that is important to me as I do this on my lunch hour. Thanks for the great info!

Michael Paladin said...

You're welcome. If you really don't like to run, sprinting is more fun than distance running.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your article which I hope will spread the recognition of sprinting as an ideal exercise. I'm 58, white male orthopedic surgeon, still able to run pretty fast. And still able to run as fast as I can, regularly. I ran pretty much as described by Mr Paladin for dozens of years. I finally had access to a rubber track which I highly recommend (ended the foot and ankle problems). 10 years ago I modified my workout in response to my lack of time to regularly workout, and in response to reading about muscle training and repair.
My workout has been only once a week, although every 5 days would be better. I run progressively shortening intervals, at progressively faster speeds. 4 220's, 3 150's, 3 110's, and a 100. If everything is cool, then I add a 40 for the thrill. I carry a stop-watch, have very disciplined time goals, and only run "as fast as I can" in the 100, and 40. I take plenty of rest between intervals. The workout takes 35-40 min. All starts are "rolling starts" to avoid Achilles, Quadriceps, and Hamstring injuries. I begin at 6-min mile pace and end at 4 min pace. Sometimes I am nauseated at the end -- too much lactic acid -- but that is the definition of a great workout. The muscle building aspects of this workout (even at the 7 day interval) are dramatic. Theory of the program and injury prevention are important topics too involved to leave here.
Sprint For Your Life (name of my book if I ever get around to writing it).

Anonymous said...

hey thanks for the info man. i am 17 and have been working out hard for about 3 years now. i was always running distance for the 1st two years i ran track and did not like it at all. i tried sprinting and loved it. now that i have read this it cleared up a lot of questions that i have about weight loss with running. long slow cardio workouts are boring and just flat out tiring. Thanks so much for the help!!! Great Article!!!

Kevin said...

Hey Michael,

Great article. Back in high school, I was totally suckered into "aerobic propaganda"--which I don't think is too strong of a description. Since then I've broken the spell, as it were, but the whole country is still very much entranced. Walk into any super-mega gym and ninety percent of the women will be on cardio machines and none of them look nearly as fit as the women pushing the iron; the same goes for the men.

Anyway, after reading this article I can't wait to get started on a sprinting routine. I'm so happy to have finally found what I think will be a very enjoyable alternative to plyometrics and straight up weightlifting. Sprinting just FEELS like something my body needs. One quick question I have--though sort of off topic: do you happen to know anything about the relationship between HGH production and fasting? If not, no worries. Just curious. Thanks for posting the article.

Michael Paladin said...

Since the highest levels of growth hormone are released during sleep and during a fast that lasts for at least 24 hours, some experts advocate reduced calorie intake and even occasional fasting as a good way to stimulate HGH production. I haven't posted on the topic yet, but you might look into intermittent fasting.

Anonymous said...

I want to have endurance for my upcoming ball season. Other than sprinting...what else would you recommend to do to increase endurance and how often to do it ?

Michael Paladin said...

"Ball season" means what - football, basketball, baseball?

Anonymous said...

I understand that this whole article is about sprinting (on foot) and moving at full speed.
I wouldn't mind becoming a really fast runner, but my focus is not really that. For a while now I have done a lot of tabata intervals on my stationary bike and they seem to work superwell to get my aerobic and anaerobic fitness up. In a very short time. And I'm just curious; do you think that the tabata intervals gives you almost as good a HGH effect as your sprinting? I guess you could say that your view is that we should move "at full speed" while a tabata interval really only makes you go "as fast as you can". But still, you run really fast 8 times. My guess is that the tabatas are more effective for developing the heart and lungs than the sprints with longer recovery, but what do you think about the HGH effect?

Michael Paladin said...

Tabata intervals are an excellent alternative to long, slow aerobics, but they don't have the HGH production effect of sprinting.

luis said...

Michael;

What do you mean with "fasting"? Is to Fast for the entire day or for just a couple of hours? Thanks for your time and sharing your knowledge with us.

Drew said...

I personally believe that there is two types of sprinting - 100/200m dash sprinting and 400/800m dash sprinting. I'm a 200/400/800m runner in highschool and I've recently been logging some miles in with cross country. From what I can see so far, I've become an all around better sprinter as well as a decent distance runner. There was a time when I believed that distance running would hurt my sprints because building up my slow twitch fibers didn't seem necessary, but I see it actually helps. Before all my distance running I had 7% body fat and I ran high intensity intervals and hill sprints all the time for three years, I became a testosterone freak and I felt as strong as ever. Now I've been running distance for a of couple months and I'm in such good shape that I can complete my sprint workouts with full efficiency, getting more reps in and driving harder. My body fat is now 5%(I've still been lifting so I havn't lost muscle mass) and I don't plan to go any lower. There is a difference between the 100m sprinters and the 10k runners, the 100m guys are just better athletes with better physiques. But I believe sprints mixed with distance creates an elite type of athlete, one that has 400/800m sprinting speed. A short sprint(100m) activates the fast twitch glycolytic fibers which don't require oxygen and is used in throwing and jumping. Professional jumpers are lean, and throwers are just big, but both don't come close to the Adonis physique of a 400/800 sprinter. These guys are carved of stone. Michael Johnson had the most aesthetic physique which balanced muscle and bodyfat in the history of track and field, and he was a 400 guy. Trey Hardee and Bryan Clay are professional decathletes who can balance sprinting and distance running unlike any other man. These guys run the 100m ,400m, and 1500m extremely well and I personally think they have the greatest physiques of any athlete(beside Michael Johnson). The 400 and 800 meter guys have a different type of dominant fast twitch fiber - fast twitch oxidative. It is fair to say that fast twitch oxidative fibers possess the best of both worlds, they have the endurance and metabolic properties of slow twitch fibers(which burn fat for energy), and the power and metabolic properties of fast twitch glycolytic fibers(which burn sugars for energy). The 400 and 800 sprinters are basically burning whatever they put in their bodies like a furnace, creating an extremely lean and muscular appearance. I'm not stating that sprinting or distance running is bad, but they should be balanced as much as possible. With the required endurance, it is easier to complete the required workout, no matter the difficulty of it. I believe that people looking to burn fat out of a sprint program should build a good base of distance running first, and they will find out that they can complete the sprint workouts with more efficiency than the other non-distance running sprinters trying to shed some fat off. After they build a good base, they should keep it by running a couple of miles three or four days out of the week WHILE doing sprint workouts. That is the number one way to an impressive physique. Please post some feedback about what you think, Mike. Thanks

PS: Sprints > Distance running

jammin said...

Yes!! I *love* sprinting, always have but never thought until recently to make it the centerpiece of my aerobic workout. (guess it seemed to easy or fun). Benefits not mentioned include
1. you can/must run on the balls of your feet when sprinting, way we were designed. Heel to toe (necessary for long distance esp on roads) is jarring and requires cushioned running shoes.
2. For me, sprinting helps my spine, ribs and hips to loosen up and helps posture.
3. I feel athletic and graceful while sprinting - no time for form to break down. If form breaks down it means I either didn't warm up properly or I overdid it and I rest and stretch.
4. Who doesn't like the feel of wind in their face?

I *would* like some peer-reviewed source for some of the benefits you mention though to help me spread the word.

Milos said...

"Despite their appearance, many joggers and cyclists are not really lean. They may be slender because they have little muscle mass, but their body fat percentages are often surprisingly high" - What study or source supports this statement? I am asking because I read this study at http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/body-fat-and-running-performance, and I also looked here http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/bodyfatpercentage.html for the average measures, and it seems that it would not support your statement

Michael Paladin said...

Arthur De Vany has the best discussions of the "skinny fat syndrome" and compilations of former world class distance athletes, such as Alberto Salazar, who have developed heart disease. Unfortunately,he has turned his blog into a membership blog.

Former world-class triathlete Mark Sisson, who has repudiated excess aerobics and at 56 has 8% body fat, promotes ideas similar to De Vany's (Primal Blueprint vs. Evolutionary Fitness).

This article discusses "skinny fat" fairly thoroughly.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, I've read your article, and I realize why I got the results I have. I've been sprinting before reading you article, and I was just curious to see why sprinting had such effects albeit the fact it is pretty obvious looking at children running. I ran 3xweek 120 meter sprints on a track for two weeks, and I already had to buy new jeans because I lost so much body fat. I just want to say from experience while running with a true sprinter friend in college, that guy had an 8 pack, and was looked like he was on roids. But the funny thing was all he did was run sprints, and do push ups, pull ups, and non weight things and looked like a lean body builder. Thanks again for this article, it really gave base to my sprinting since my friend is gone. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

hello michael,
first your article is awesome and very informative. I just want to ask a question. I've been sprinting for the past week and a half. Recently yesterday and the day before I ran back to back, doing 5-6 reps of full sprints at around 130 meters, and my legs are totally fine. I was wondering if i could keep running sprints at that amount of reps, since I'm not doing like 9-12 per say, and my body is feeling perfectly functional i.e. legs chest etc. is it really that important to rest a day or two when doing just 6 reps of sprints in a day?

Michael Paladin said...

Not really. High school and college sprinters sprint 5-6 days a week. However, sprinting more would not confer more health benefits, and it could take energy away from your strength training workouts. If you want to sprint daily, go ahead, but don't do the same workout every day.

Anonymous said...

wow, thanks for the fast reply, I actually talked with a friend who ran highschool track after posting that comment, and he said to vary routines you do. He suggested doing sprints one day, and then distance i.e. running at 75% 300meters, about 2 sets of four the next..anyways thanks for clearing that up, I will not do sprints again today

Anonymous said...

This article was indeed very helpful, but one question. If it is too cold to sprint outside b/c of the rest time and body loss heat, what would you recommend as a substitute? From reading some of the posts and your replies, it seems if I'm quoting correctly, "re-read the definition of sprinting. You cannot sprint on a treadmill." I don't want to put your words outa context here, but if that is true, besides the fact that I and many other people don't have access to indoor tracks, what do you recommend? Also I came across another blog with this workout. I see you said it only takes 8 seconds to promote HGH growth naturally. So is sprinting for 30 seconds, active resting 90 seconds and continually doing sprints and active rest for the alloted time of 5 minutes a good thing for you? Thanks in advance for reading such a big comment.

http://www.fitfaq.com/sprinting-for-weight-loss.html

Michael Paladin said...

You could do stationary cycle sprints, or, if you're a pretty good swimmer, swim sprints, but, again, you have to remember the definition of sprinting.

The workout you mentioned is not a bad workout, but most people couldn't sprint the 30 seconds more than once because of the 90 second recovery, so it probably wouldn't trigger HGH production. It would be an interval workout for them. Lengthen the recovery to 2-2:30 and it becomes a sprint workout.

People don't seem to grasp how much recovery is needed to do sprint repetitions because they're not used to putting forth the effort to actually sprint. They think if they pick up the pace a little, they're sprinting.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Great article. I totally agree with you and have been using sprinting to keep in shape for a number of years.

It's great and I never get bored because i'm always thinking of new drills and routines.

Jogging just never suited me and I was never very good at it. I play soccer and as this is a multi-sprint sport, it never made much sense to go jogging for miles and miles when on the pitch i was sprinting near full speed alot.

I do have a couple of questions for you.

Firstly I sometimes find that when I do some sprint work, I find it difficult to gauge how long I should be resting between sets.

For example, I do a set of 3 sprints roughly 25 meters each followed by a short rest of maybe 75 meters. But sometimes I am out of breath starting the next set.

Is this bad? When I rest for too long I don't feel i am training hard enough!

Second question: We both agree that long aerobic exercise such as jogging is bad for us, but I quite enjoy walking every day with my dogs. would you consider this form of exercise the same as jogging and hence also counter-productive?

Personally I wouldn't choose walking as a way of keeping fit (and my heart rate doesn't really get up like when I run)I just enjoy being outdoors with my dogs! :)

Joseph

Michael Paladin said...

Your recovery is about the minimum. Add 25-50 meters and see how that feels. Your heart rate will be elevated throughout the sprint session, but you really should not be out of breath when you do your next repetition.

Around 30 minutes of walking a day reduces inflammation - a primary cause of heart disease - so it should be done regardless of whatever other exercise you do. You can do more than 30 minutes if you want. I don't consider walking to be exercise, just a healthful activiity.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike, Really appreciate you sharing such helpful insights here! Would you mind answering a quick question here - how could I make it possible to sprint on an elliptical machine? Hope to hear from you soon!

Anonymous said...

You wrote, "If you're running, cycling, swimming, etc. in addition to sprinting, limit your sprint workouts to twice a week with at least 48-72 hours between."

This feels like a dumb question, but I just want to make sure I understand... So I should wait 48-72 hours between the sprint workouts?? Or should I take the time off from running/cycling/swimming, etc as well?

So my schedule could potentially look like:
Day 1 - sprint
Day 2 - cycling or running
Day 3 - rest
Day 4 - sprint
Day 5 - cycling or running

Does that sound right or do I need an adjustment somewhere??

Michael Paladin said...

That schedule looks fine. Basically, you can't sprint well if your energy is depleted, so if you do long-distance aerobics, you need to limit both your sprinting and aerobics. About twice a week for each is as much as most people can handle without overuse injuries or excess fatigue. Try to do your strength training on off days if you can.

Archie said...

i'd just like to say well done on a good article. and also, well done on maintaining patience and answering all the messages you have been sent, however tedious they have become. i really liked the point about how kids never go jogging haha it makes sense doesn't it. i also don't understand why people don't understand what sprinting at full speed means. running as fast as tyou can is one of the greatest natural feelings in my opinion.

i only found your website today but will be checking in regularly in the future

best regards archie from scotland

DAVID LOPEZ said...

hey yo can u tell me if i can sprint with 2 pounds wieghts in each hand? what u think about it



thnz for all

Anonymous said...

hey yo ive been doin all the sprint stuff perfect the seconds and 100 m. but know i want to know if i can do it with 2pounds wieghts in each hand what u think about it and the second ive been joggin after ive done the sprints but not too long just to ma way back home joog a little and then walk perfect dont know i shouldnt jogg? thnz ure the man!

Michael Paladin said...

"i want to know if i can do it with 2pounds wieghts in each hand what u think about it"

I don't think much of it at all. Your arm drive and form will be compromised. Run uphill sprints instead. A 5-10 minute cooldown jog is normally done after a sprint workout.

Anonymous said...

sorry but i didnt understand what u mean with "Your arm drive and form will be compromised"
i want to know if do it the springs session with those little weights will cuz injury or something i saw its bad tu run with weights in ur hands so its the same with sprint?

Michael Paladin said...

Then let's say it "ruins" your arm drive and form. Sprinting should be done with the upper body relaxed, including the hands, which should be open, not gripping something.

Anonymous said...

honestly i just have the street to sprint cuz theres no track near or grass i live in the midle of the city so ive doin in the streets and the yellow lines to measure 100 m. its very unrecomended do it on street?
and if im doing nathin but spritns can i dot it 5 days per week?

Anonymous said...

hi there

this is very interesting to me as i have done running in the past and actually hate it. i now do moutain bike riding for about 7 kms each night going pretty hard. i want to incorporate this into it. i was thinking monday and friday do this and other days do the cycling. does this sound like a good idea or would i be pushing it to much? i am 22 btw, also just getting into fitness, i am also training with a personal trainer on tuesdays in boxing

Michael Paladin said...

You could do that or incorporate sprints into your bike ride, going top speed for 10-30 seconds and very slow for 1:00-2:30 min.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to lose this little gut I have. Should I sprint train or jog?

Michael Paladin said...

Sprint.

Anonymous said...

Hi Micheal, I have been running to lose weight but MOSTLY for the psychological benefits. My routine is 4 runs a week of 35 mins duration. I also do 2 days a week of bodyweight exercises - push-ups, single-leg squats, etc. But like I said, I run mainly for psyhological reasons. I really feel great after a run. But my question is, would sprinting help me feel the same? I tried one session of sprinting, but I'm dubious about whether it would give me the same mental 'lift' as regular running. I often lose myself in my thoughts when I run and find it great for stress relief. Can prolonged sprinting do this?

santoshi said...

Hi Michael

It's a very informative article.I am a physiotherapist,hence enjoyed reading this article.I Will definitely suggest my friend who is in sports [basketball] to read this article.

Thanksss!

Kevin said...

Hello Michael,

Thank you for this article, it's great to see such a detailed explanation on the benefits in sprinting.

However, I do still have a question regarding the increased human growth hormone. Basically, I'm wondering how it works in combination with my other workouts (Push-ups, Pull-ups, etc.)

Shouldn't I do these "other" workouts right after my sprinting, because the HGH would still be in my system?

Or does the HGH work at a slower speed? Which would mean I could do the not-sprinting workouts on the next day without losing the benefits of the HGH increase.

Thank you,
Kevin

Michael Paladin said...

Whether you sprint or do strength training first depends on your priorities. You'll get the most benefit from whichever you do first. You want to avoid going over about 45 minutes per session, though, if you include both activities. Do each workout on separate days if they would total 45 minutes plus together.

Charlie said...

Mike, Great article, I am not a fan of jogging and a friend suggested sprinting to lose weight. However, I know you said not to sprint on concrete but I live in NYC. I have been using the streets as guidelines, I run one block full tilt & walk 2 blocks. It has been a great workout but how bad is it on the concrete? thanks

Michael Paladin said...

Most of your sprinting speed is due to the amount of force applied to the ground (stride length), not stride rate as most people think. Concrete has almost no "give," unlike running tracks or grass. The bigger and heavier you are, the worse running on concrete is. If it's not bothering you, fine, but monitor yourself closely or any back pain.

Anonymous said...

I started sprinting 5 days ago and was woundering if it will help me lose my baby tummy! (I had a baby 4 months ago) I carry my weigh in my legs and hips and those are the areas Im focusing on! Will sprinting help improve these areas?

Michael Paladin said...

Yes. You might want to sprint 3 times weekly if you're trying to lose weight. Intensity is what does the job. Reduce repetitions or distance, if you have to, in order to maintain intensity.

Anonymous said...

michael i ran a 10.9 handtime at the beginning of last years season with normal running shoes not spikes and no blocks do you think i would have be able to run the same time or faster during the season. I couldn't find out during the season season because i strained my hamstring during the season 7 at different levels of severity and then tore my quad later in the summer i got back into 11.30-11.20 speed with going to practice only for 2 days then the next week sprained my hamstring again i was also wondering is timing a 40 with the stopwatch in ur hand while running a accurate timing system

Anonymous said...

i ran a 10.9 handtime at the beginning of last years track season with the same person starting the race time by using their voice. i didnt use blocks or spikes, so would it have been possible for me to run faster during the season. I didnt find out because i got injured. I was also wondering if timing a 40yrd sprint by urself with the stopwatch in ur hand while running is accurate timing

Michael Paladin said...

If you didn't use blocks or spikes, you probably could have run as fast or faster later in the season A 10.9 hand-timed 100 converts to an 11.2 FAT.

You can't accurately time yourself on short sprints. Starting, holding, and stopping the watch all affect your running motion.

Anonymous said...

so if holding the stopwatch slows me down what do u think a 4.61 in the 40 would translate running without it

Anonymous said...

You said running on concrete slows you down but by how much and does the same apply for jumping if so how much of a vertical decrease will there be

Anonymous said...

excellent article, i'm 44 been sprinting 3or more days a week..phone pole to phone pole it measures out at 65 yards but i'm on concrete. so i have some adjustments to make thanks for the article

Michael Paladin said...

Running on concrete doesn't slow you down; it hurts your back and knees.

Michael Paladin said...

A self-timed sprint time is simply unreliable. There's no formula to convert it.

MJ said...

hey i don't know if this was asked already and i read everything in here and i understand that sprinting on a track or grass/dirt is best. due to tight schedules and everything else all i have available to me is my school's basketball court. is it okay to sprint there or will it have the same effects as running on concrete?
-thanks!

Michael Paladin said...

If you're talking about the indoor court, it would be okay. Outdoor courts are usually asphalt, which is a little better than concrete, but not much. A basketball court is short for sprints - 30 yards maximum.

Deon said...

Hi Mike

Great article and thanks for being so patient with all the questions.

I am 19, skinny and small but with a bit of a belly too and want to start sprinting and weight training.

I have a program that im going to begin next week and just want to know what you think off it

Monday
In the evening Im going to do the 50-100 meter long with 5-10 reps

Tuesday
in the morning weight training only chest and in the evening 8x25,m 6x40m, 4x60m, 2x80m, and one 100m

Wednesday
The same as monday

Thursday the same as teusday but in the morning ill do biceps and triceps.

friday
in the morning ill do weight traning but legs...

And then one more thing i have a problem with Shinsplints that have always interupted my workouts and required atleast 2 - 3 weeks of rest. Just want to know if you could help me with that.

I am training for rugby and have access to grass training grounds.
Thanx

Anonymous said...

Hi michael great article and thanx for being so patient.

I have a problem with shin splints do maybe know what i can do?

Michael Paladin said...

The primary cause of shin splints is training on hard surfaces. Train on grass. You could hang weights off the end of your foot and flex your ankles to strengthen your shins, but it's probably not necessary.

Deon said...

Hi Mike

Due to financial status i dont have access to weights but i do have access to a grass field.

Will sprinting if done everyday give me muscle mass? Both in the upper body and lower body?

Michael Paladin said...

Nothing done every day will give you muscle mass because muscle needs rest to grow. About three times a week is the most you should do. The sprints should be short (30-60 meters), with plenty of res, and done in sets. That way maximum effort can be given. An example might be: 2-3 sets of 4 x 50 with 1 minute rest between reps and 5 minutes rest between sets.

Anonymous said...

I have began do my sprint workout and is a week and a half in and i am already struggling with shinsplints? Do you have some advice for me please

Anonymous said...

I have began do my sprint workout and is a week and a half in and i am already struggling with shinsplints? Do you have some advice for me please... Should i be stretching more?

I am training on a grass field

Anonymous said...

I have began do my sprint workout and is a week and a half in and i am already struggling with shinsplints? Do you have some advice for me please... Should i be stretching more?

I am training on a grass field

Anonymous said...

Hi michael great article.

I am going to do sprints 2 a week with 48 hour rest period. Would it still be enough rest if I do weight traning in between sprinting days?

Example:
monday spriting
Teusday weight
Wednesday Sprint
Thursday Weight
And friday weight and rest the weekend.

weight traning consist each day of different muscles?

Anonymous said...

If I sprint for 60 m would I make the 8 seconds requiredfor the HGH?

Thanx

Michael Paladin said...

Unless, you're a sub-11 second 100-meter sprinter, running 60-meter (70 yd.) repetitions will take 8 seconds or longer each.

Michael Paladin said...

It's almost impossible to get shin splints running on grass unless your running motion is inefficient. Once you/re out of your acceleration phase, be sure you're running with proper sprinting form - upright body carriage, arms swinging freely from the shoulders, hands open and relaxed, and, most importantly, landing on the forefoot, not heel-to-toe like a jogger nor on your toes like a ballerina. Also, you could take 10-20 seconds of your 2-minute rest intervals to stretch and massage your shins. Don't use shin splints as an excuse to quit. You'll get over them.

Michael Paladin said...

Alternating weight training and sprinting is fine, or you could do as sprinters do, and do your weight training after your sprint workout.

Anonymous said...

Oh thanx.

If I do 2 sprinting workouts a week, will I be burning enough fat? Coz I've got a bit of a cut I want to lose.

and what would be better alternating or to do the weight training after my sprint workout?

Anonymous said...

Sorry but how do I stretch my shins?

Michael Paladin said...

How do you stretch your shins? You pull back on your foot.

Michael Paladin said...

You can put more effort into each workout if you do them on alternating days. For sprinters, the weights are lower priority.

Anonymous said...

will these type of sprints 3 times a week build mass in my calves? also what type of sprinting/interval training do i have to do to get legs like soccer players?

Michael Paladin said...

Sprinting by itself won't build huge muscle mass. Soccer players usually do sprints of from 50-100 yards. They also do a lot of agility drills and plyometrics.

Anonymous said...

well im currently doing sprints of 50-100 yards 3-4 times a week....do you have any tips/drills/exercises (other than calf rasies) that can build strong and muscular looking legs and calves?

Michael Paladin said...

Squats and deadlifts are the traditional mass=building leg exercises.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael,
I am an 36 years old ectomorph with lots of visceral fat and subcutaneous belly fat. I did jogging but it remove too much muscles compared to belly fat. Your great article inspires me to do sprinting twice a week, with just 1 set of 5 X 60 metres, 5 minutes rest between reps. Is the rest too long? Is the exercise enough? Give me your advice, I want take maximum benefits of HGH. I do body weight training also (twice a week). Thanks. Hans

Anonymous said...

Michael?

I just cant seem to get speed? currently im sprinting 3 times a week and doing 2 times a week a litle weight training. But im one of the slowest guys on the field but im also very skinny. Is it true that your leg muscles have to be big to run fast? and how can i accomplish this?

Michael Paladin said...

Leg muscles do not have to be big for a sprinter to be fast, but they must be powerful. If you're weak, a little weight training won't do the job. Within a whole-body strength program, you have to do heavy squats and deadlifts. The 5 x 5 protocol is proven to create strength without adding buik (which slows you down). Also, you will need to do plyometric exercises.

Michael Paladin said...

Five minutes rest between 60 meter sprints is too long. Two minutes would be better. Add 1-5 more reps to make the workout about the same length of time, if you want.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 4 ur answer Michael
Finally I ve found exercise that combats fat rigorously but preserves beloved muscles. Now I love sprint so much cause it makes me feel 10 years younger.Thanks. Hans

Sanjay said...

So I am a singer and basically I can't do heavy weightlifting anymore. But I'd like to still develop great strength/look decently built and lean. Will this help build overall muscle and develop strength that can be applied in other activities? Thanks and great article btw. As a med student to be I back up your claims with an extensive background in physiology. If you want sticky this so people who just spout off nonsense don't confused novices who are actually trying to get fit.

Also to the guy who was talking about the hypertrophied heart and the long distance runners freaking out:

The heart is an endurance organ. It's main ability to adapt is increase beats per minute (BPM). Increasing BPM is like increasing reps, therefore endurance of the HEART is increased. For the skeletal muscle, however, it is anaerobic bursts which build size and strength while burning up fat supplies.
In addition, long distance running (LDR) releases cortisol, a stress hormone that over longer periods of time stimulates fat and protein synthesis. Before you say "Protein synthesis! Muscle mass!", when the body has to synthesize proteins it is to breakdown for more energy. Essentially it burns the muscle for fuel. Your body is going into preservation mode due to elongated exposure to stress.
To make a long story short the body adapts to how you train it. It loses fat and creates muscle b/c in a sprint fat is nothing but excess baggage and muscle is need for the intense speed. In LDR the body saves fat to use as energy for the long stress and muscles are small b/c being lighter is more advantageous when you have to run a huge distance.

Sorry for the epic post but I had to get it out of my system. Michael, if you'd like I can definitely give you stuff to add to your post or future posts. I love this kinda stuff. Thanks again for a great article!

-Sanjay

Michael Paladin said...

Thanks, Sanjay. I probably won't rewrite the article, since it's meant to be a how-to, but your comment adds some of the justification that some readers have asked for. I think sprinting, or at least interval training, is beginning to seep into mainstream consciousness as a superior - and more enjoyable - way to train.

Anonymous said...

i ahve seen a bit on this on the tv and im convinced. going to give it a go now with the missis, here goes

Anonymous said...

I never jogged or ran but this sprinting sounds good,i dont quite understand how to do this,how long do you run ? how long do you rest,and how many times do you do this for a good workout?

Michael Paladin said...

Reading the article will answer your questions.

Anonymous said...

If I would start to do a sprint workout now, when I'm 17 years old, would there be any chance for me to go pro, after 1-2 years of intense trainig?

Michael Paladin said...

Go pro at what sport? If you mean track and field, no. Few sprinters, especially males, are able to compete internationally until their twenties. Secondly, the workout I outlined is not intense training. It is intended for average people to get into shape, not to compete.

Anonymous said...

Will sprinting help me burn belly fat? Because although I have a flat belly I still can get rid of some cellulite/fat between skin and muscle, which is upsetting.

Thanks.

Michael Paladin said...

Yes.

Ahmad said...

hi, i am 37 years old and i was doing slow jogging but was not happy. when i read your things about sprint, i have started few days back but can u tell me how many sprint i have to do and how many days i have to do.. one more thing do i eat something before sprinting. i am doing in the early morning and i feel very uncomfortable. please advise me.. thanks

Michael Paladin said...

The article answers your questions about sprinting. Do not eat before your workout.

Anonymous said...

HI..THANK YOU FOR YOUR ARTICLE. I HAVE A QUESTION
CAN I SPRINTING AND LIFT WEIGTHS THE SAME DAY?

Michael Paladin said...

Yes, but one of the two will suffer. Do the one most important to you first.

Anonymous said...

Hi,Mike Im 43 years old and after almost 2 years of sedentarism.. I have been jogging /running during the last 5 weeks (3 miles -3/4 days at week in 30 minuts, aprox)

I think it will be good for me, to start springting but im concern of my HR. I mean, it will be normal/healty if I get very close to the limit of my HR (177) in the first sprints?
Thank so much

Michael Paladin said...

So what if you do? Remember that this is not a sustained rate; it's intermittent. Your heart rate will rise quickly, and then should fall fairly quickly during the recovery period. Your slow 10-minute miles keep your heart rate elevated far longer than a sprint session will. If you have heart problems, don't do sprints. Otherwise, don't worry about your heart rate.

Anonymous said...

I'm 60 and have been into fitness since I retired at 48. I strength train twice a week and bike, swim, or run the other days (with a day off each week). I DESPISE running and am looking forward to trying sprinting instead. I don't have a track nearby but the beach where I run is very hard-packed flat sand. Is it possible to do sprints without measurement, just using time? If I run full speed for 10 seconds, then walk briskly for 1 1/2 minutes and repeat 10 times, would that work??

Michael Paladin said...

That would work, but from a practical standpoint, it would be easier to mark off 50 meters or so than to try to check your watch at full speed.

Also, don't walk "briskly." That's the aerobics mindset. walk slowly. You're trying to recover so that each repetition is close to max effort.

Anonymous said...

Good article, totaly agree just look at nature, animals that sprint short fast eg tigers lions are lean strong and muscular.

Anonymous said...

OK just did my first sprint workout and liked it very much. Since it was my first time didn't want to overdo so I sprinted 8 times, 60 meters each. I walked 120 meters after each sprint. Decent workout but felt like it wasn't enough. Next time out should I increase # of sprints or distance of each sprint or both?
Thanks!

Michael Paladin said...

You did eight 60 meter sprints at FULL SPEED for your first sprint workout, but it wasn't enough? Enough of what?

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm used to feeling more "worked-out" after a strength training or distance running session. Felt like I could have done quite a bit more. I usually do 40 minutes or so when I work out or cross-train. So if I want to extend the sprints workout, I was wondering whether longer sprints or more sprints is a better way to go. And yes, I did do FULL SPEED and I felt like a bit of an idiot out there speeding then walking back and forth on the beach as people walked by :0) I did love it though, and had lots of energy all day. How long does a good sprints workout usually take??

Michael Paladin said...

A sprint workout is intended to activate fast twitch muscle fibers, increase HGH, and improve speed, not to exhaust you. Longer repetition sprint workouts, such as 400 meter sprinters use, can be exhausting, but they have a different purpose.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael; To warm up for my sprint session, I walk about 10 minutes and during the walk I do toe-to-hand stretches and lunges. I've been doing 700 meters twice a week with strength training, biking or swimming on off days. I love the sprints (10x70 meters, with 210 meter walks in between sprints). So two questions, !) I run on hard-packed sand wearing regular running shoes. Should I be using different shoes and if so what do you recommend. 2)What stretches do you recommend before and after sprinting sessions? I've been getting a mild strain in my right quad. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm a 19 year old female trying really hard to get in shape, as I was never the "active" child growing up and would really like that to change. For the past 5 or 6 weeks I've been going to the gym 3 to 5 days a week running a mile as fast as I can (which is not very fast at all!) and then walking somewhat fast until I've reached an hour altogether. I've also started eating healthier. I don't eat my recommended calories as I'm never really all that hungry. I don't pig out, anyway. I have lost weight physically but looking at me you wouldn't notice the difference. I've been reading about sprinting and came across your article, and I guess I'm wondering if it would be alright to do the sprinting 2 or 3 times a week like you said but then also do my normal cardio routine on the other days, or is that too much?

Michael Paladin said...

Regular running shoes are fine for sprinting, though if you have a choice, the lightest with the most flexible soles would be best.

Since static stretches temporarily weaken the muscle, I don't recommend any before a power exercise, such as sprinting. After sprinting, if you want, do stretches for the affected muscles - the quads, hamstrings, hips, and calves.

Your quad strain is not caused by lack of stretching. It's caused by insufficient warm-up. Walking isn't sufficient warm-up for sprinting, and stretching is not a warm-up at all. Do sprint drills or at least several strides (sub-maximal sprints) before your workout.

Michael Paladin said...

If you're getting in shape at least partly to improve your appearance, skip the cardio routine. A sprint workout would be more aerobic than what you're doing now anyway and less exhausting. For the cardio routine, substitute resistance training - weight training probably since you're at a gym. Keep the weights heavy enough that you can only do 3-5 sets of 5-8 repetitions. Though it's extremely difficult for women or even men to add a lot of muscle mass, that set and rep scheme will build strength and shape your muscles without adding much mass.

Anonymous said...

I have been doing strength workouts for a long time and i do them daily working out a different muscle group each time to allow the other muscle groups to rest. I am incredibly out of shape however and am starting to get into sprinting again. would you recomend i workout on days that i also sprint or should i start working out on days that i do not sprint?

Michael Paladin said...

Both sprint workouts and strength workouts should be intense or they're hardly worth doing. Do them on different days.

Jennifer said...

Sorry, don't have time to read ALL the comments to see if you answered this already and this machine has no search feature :P

Is there a recommended time of day to do sprint workouts? what about recommendations on what to consume (food or drink) before or after the sprints? My goal is general fitness (maintain tone). I typically sprint first thing in the morning followed by a couple glasses of water. Usually nothing for the next hour, then a cup of plain oatmeal with maybe some tea.

Michael Paladin said...

If fat loss is one of your goals, you should work out in a fasted state so that your body burns fat for fuel rather than glycogen. Morning is a good time to do that You should then "feed your muscles" by consuming protein, not carbohydrates, within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I think long distance and short distance are both beneficial. Long distance will increase your stamina and overall health and it has been proven that humans have adapted to long distance due to our anesestors stalking prey all day. It has also been proven that long distance running is and effecient natural form of running while sprinting is a learned technique.
Short distance increases muscles and obviously speed. What I want to know is why long distance running is "bad for you"? I also want to add that speed is genetic. I also want to know how to increase my speed and acceleration. By speed I mean the time in the middle of the race when I am standing straight up or the time at the end of my 40 yard dash.

Anonymous said...

If sprinting is not mostly genetic, why is it that all the fastest people are black, African, Jamaican, etc? Why have all the fastest people in High School been the fastest since elementary school? Strength and stamina is less influenced and they are commonly trained and acheived by many different people. Quickness and speed is mostly genetic and also depend on an individual's body structure.

Anonymous said...

How can I do strength training and speed training on different days? If I squat, the next day is a rest day so It would be better to sprint on the same day. Also, i run long distance once a week to get its benefits without its harms to muscle gains/speed. Is this good? couldn't i do alot of long distance running but run alot of sprints/hills and then do long distace after my speed workout?

Anonymous said...

When are you going to answer people's comments?

Anonymous said...

Isn't sprinting bad for your joints, especially the knees?

Michael Paladin said...

Long distance running does increase muscular endurance, at the expense of your joints and muscle mass. Excessive training can also lead to heart problems. Champion marathoner Alberto Salazar is an example. Sprinting can be aerobic if the rest intervals are kept to about three times the time spent sprinting.

Long distance running is natural, but sprinting is learned? Really? Then why do children sprint, but almost never jog or run for any distance? Walking is natural, not running long distances.

Hunter-gatherers stalked their prey, but they didn't run long distances to do it. They walked long distances, mixing in jogging and sprinting when necessary. They seldom did anything repetitively for a long period of time. Of course, they also did not run on concrete or asphalt.

If speed is genetic, why do you think it's possible to improve it?

Michael Paladin said...

All human characteristic are "mostly genetic," but gene expression is influenced by the environment and behavior. Even your muscle composition (fast and slow twitch muscle fibers) can be modified by training.

You must not follow track and field if you think that white distance athletes are doing better than white sprinters in international competition. East and North Africans have been dominating middle and long distance races for years.

Michael Paladin said...

I answer comments when it's convenient for me.

Michael Paladin said...

Sprinters seldom have joint problems, especially compared to distance runners who almost always have them. Of course, if you insist on sprinting on concrete or asphalt, you might have joint problems.

Aside from the repetitive nature of distance running, running on hard surfaces is one reason distance runners suffer so much from joint problems. If they ran on grass or hard sand, a lot of them would probably be fine if they didn't exceed 25 miles a week or so.

Michael Paladin said...

The only reason to take a complete rest day after squats is if your only goal is to have big thighs. If you sprint after weight training, you won't be able to work out hard enough to get much benefit (unless you goof off on your weight training). If you sprint before, your weight training will suffer.

What would be your purpose in running long distance after sprinting? A short jog afterward gives you some time to cool down and flush some lactic acid from your muscles. However, if fat loss is your goal, walking would burn the free fatty acids released during your workout just as effectively as jogging and without causing excessive fatigue. That way you can be fresher for whatever your next workout is.

If your goals are strength and speed, don't waste your time and energy on activities, such as jogging, which contribute nothing towards your goals.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that I lost alot of weight and had alot of stamina when I jogged in the summer but gained alot of FAT when I started weight lifting/sprinting and got out of shape?

Anonymous said...

How would you recommend I increase my sprinting speed? (football, 40 yard dash,100 yard dash). Also how to increase stamina/endurance if I shouldn't run. You may have already answered these questions but I didn't have time to read through the countless comments

Anonymous said...

First of all, I didn't say "whites" are good at long distance. I said certain people are good at short distance. Secondly, read through this pdf of an experiment conducted at a university concerning the "learned, unnatural technique of sprinting" please explain to me how sprinting isn't a learned technique after reading this please. I am confused by alot of different claims by people :( contentdm.lib.byu.edu/ETD/image/etd634.pdf

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone jog? Why is it such a recommended activity?

Michael Paladin said...

Everyone jogs because it's easy, and you can do it anywhere with no equipment. It's better than no exercise at all if you don't overdo it, but a lot of the joggers I see would be better off walking. Their slow, jarring gait makes MY joints hurt.

Michael Paladin said...

Doing ANYTHING well has to be learned. That even goes for something as relatively simple as sprinting. Many modern day people are simply not athletic. I see people every day who jog poorly.

As I said, children naturally sprint as part of their play, but when they have to go a distance, they walk (or at least they used to before parents drove them everywhere).

Michael Paladin said...

You gained fat because you ate too much and/or reduced your physical activity. You do not get "out-of-shape" with weight training and sprinting. You should be in better shape if you're training properly. Competitive sprinters are universally lean and muscular. They don't have the muscular endurance to race a 10K because they haven't trained for it, but their cardiovascular fitness is quite good, especially if they train to race 200 or 400 meters.

Michael Paladin said...

The difference between a fast sprinter and a slow one is primarily stride length, not stride rate. Since you probably can't grow longer legs, the two primary ways to increase foot speed are to increase power with strength training (heavy weights, low reps) and more efficient form (learned technique).

ALL excessive cardio is potentially harmful, so substituting alternatives is not a good solution, though it could save your joints.

You can use sprinting in certain training protocols to concentrate on aerobic fitness if that's a primary goal. (Competitive sprinters would not usually use these.) Tabata intervals (8 x 20 sec. sprint, 10 sec. rest) and Phil Campbell's revised Sprint 8 (8 x 30 sec. sprint, 90 sec. rest) both improve cardiovascular fitness dramatically, but only if you perform them correctly. Sprint means SPRINT, though your last repetitions are likely to be slower than your first. If the effort is the same, however, you'll still benefit.

Anonymous said...

How do I increase my 1-3 mile time

Anonymous said...

What do you suppose I should do to be good at the 200 meter for next year? Please be specific since I don't even know how to train for it and I want to make big gains in a year.

Michael Paladin said...

Increasing your 1-3 mile times is easy - just don't practice. If you want to improve them, you'll need to do a long run once a week, plus race pace intervals, and faster-than-race-pace intervals weekly. However, training for the mile and the 5K are quite different. You can't be equally good at both at the same time.

Michael Paladin said...

Following your coach's advice is the best way to be good at the 200 meter for next year. The basics of his advice would probably include a speed workout (30-50 meter repeats), a race-pace workout (100-150 meter repeats), an overdistance workout (300 meter repeats), and strength training.

Anonymous said...

Is this a good way to train for sprinting speed? Yesterday I sprinted my hardest the length of a basketball court 3 times (from baseline to baseline and back) and then took about a 20 sec. and then repeated this about 4-5 times. Will this workout increase my speed? will in increase my stamina/endurance?

Anonymous said...

What training would you recommend for 1 mile race-how about 5k race? I noticed that you said they're not the same so I would like to know the specific training for both.

Anonymous said...

What is the correct position for sprinting?(Starting position, transition, ending, etc). Also what would you recommend for intense training, not just getting into shape?

No Nonsense Muscle Building said...

Great article. I just got done running some sprints this evening. I like to do 5 sets of 3 down and backs of 30 yard legs shuttle runs full speed, with a 2 minute rest between sets. Then I like to air it out and do 4-5 60-70 yard sprints. I sprint down, walk back, sip some water, and sprint again. It is my favorite and most effective workout. I highly recommend sprints to EVERYONE that I talk fitness to. Bodybuilders and college trainers all recommend that sprints are an excellent workout. HGH plus they make you look younger and you get that slim, tone, muscular look. Good article and thanks again.

goducks said...

Great article! I was curious what your take on doing sprints on an elliptical is. I've been trying to approximate your suggest sprint workout on one like this: 5-minute slow jog for warmup with the resistance all the way down, followed by 5-6 bursts of 10-12 seconds as fast as I can go with the resistance dialed up almost as high as it will go. Between bursts, i do 2 minute slow jogs at minimum resistance. Do you think this will give me most of the same benefits of actual sprinting? You've inspired me to get back to sprinting after not working out much at all over the last 8 or 9 months since I moved. Unfortunately, there are no convenient tracks or fields here! I do live 2 blocks from my new gym though! Thank you, sir!

Michael Paladin said...

The amount of benefit depends on the speed and/or resistance. The fact that you can do another repeat after jogging 1-2 minutes makes me suspect that you need to go faster or increase the resistance. You should either be walking slowly or resting completely between sprints.

Michael Paladin said...

You need a coach or experienced sprinter to demonstrate good form and give you feedback on yours.

Michael Paladin said...

This article is about sprinting, primarily for health and fitness, not middle distance training, which I don't particularly want to encourage for exercise.

Michael Paladin said...

Shuttle runs on a basketball court will improve your sprint endurance more than your speed. Even an NBA court is only 31 yards long, and junior high and high school courts are only 25-28. With the constant acceleration and deceleration of each shuttle run, you may never actually reach full speed on school or park basketball court.

goducks said...

Thanks for the prompt response! I do slow to a very slow jog (it probably is walking speed -- it's just kinda hard to tell on an elliptical), and after 3 reps or so, i'm usually hunched over the machine's display, and i'm huffing and puffing like a madman. So it's more dependent on the intensity than the speed at which the muscles are moving, right? The thing is when I'm going at max speed on the elliptical, it seems like my steps are teeny and like my legs and arms aren't moving that fast and freely compared to how fast they moved when I used to do sprints on a track. It still wears me the hell out, but it just seems weird that i'd be able to get the same benefits of a full on sprint with these little baby steps. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Mate, thanks for this article. I think like you said, some people are just to dumb, lazy or ignorant to accept how sprinting is likely the most natural of human activities. I just have a question. Do you reckon one could get lean muscle mass and maybe even a bit of mass by only doing hills sprints and sprint training? I for one, do body-weight exercises and stay away from the gyms because I like to keep lean, defined and as athletic as possible. In your opinion, do you think I should add lunges and the like to my legs workout or would it be ok to leave it at just sprints 3-4 times a week?

Michael Paladin said...

Intensity is everything, and you can roughly gauge intensity by how much recovery you need to repeat the same effort.

Michael Paladin said...

Most people are uncomfortable with nonconformity and intensity. That's why you see them jogging and going to the gym to lift light weights for high reps on exercise machines.

Sprinters look quite muscular because they are so lean, but few are actually heavily muscled. For example, Asafa Powell looks muscular at 6'3" and 195 lbs., but an NFL receiver of his height would weigh 20-30 pounds more than he does. For most people, sprinting is not a huge mass-building exercise.

Bulgarian split squats and single-leg squats and deadlifts are calisthenics that can build mass, but remember the slogan, "Go low or go home."

Anonymous said...

If I ran a 5.44 40 yard dash handtimed by someone, what would it be using a motion sensor/technology? Also what would be my 100 meter and 200 meter times based of my 40 yard dash?

Michael Paladin said...

Add .25 seconds to hand-timed results to estimate automatic-timed results. You could multiply 5.69 by 2.5 and 5 to estimate 100 and 200 times of 14.3 and 28.5, but those are just ballpark figures. The 200 especially requires conditioning and technique not needed for the 40-yard dash.

Dave said...

I'll do a 10 minute jog or skipping rope to warm up, then I'll do a calisthenics/plyometric workout to strength and explosive power. At the end of my workout I do sprint workouts, and I have to say I agree with this article completely. I don't do long distance running, almost never. I do 4 sprinting sets at the end of my workout, and I can say my health has vastly improved. Depending how I feel after the last recovery I might do one more, but usually I'm way too tired and can barely walk at that point. It's worth it though.

Anonymous said...

Are there general time ranges for workout durations? For myself, I plan to lift heavy weights 3x p/week and sprint on the off days for purposes of general health and fat loss. Most info states that workout sessions should not exceed 60 minutes. Does this hold true for sprinting as well? Also, can you suggest some sprinting routines?

Michael Paladin said...

Excluding warm-up, 30 minutes is a much better workout length. You can't work intensely for 60 minutes.

A sprint workout is included in this article. If you want different workouts for three days, try 8 x 100, 8 x 60, and 8 x 40 for a total of 1600 meters weekly.

Anonymous said...

Great article, I was wondering, can you get the same benefits using a concept2 rower. I'd like to incorporate both sprinting and rowing if it is a good thing. Also, is it beneficial to do any longer period rows, like 3k, or should I stick to just sprint intervals along with my lifting days.

Anonymous said...

if weather is bad outdoors, what are some indoor options that give the same benefits as sprinting or come close ? And how to structure it? Intervals?

Anonymous said...

as one reader implied, should an upper body conditioner be used in addition to the sprinting? Is it even necessary? If so, what are some good examples - boxing, rowers, swimming sprints?

Michael Paladin said...

Sprinting is just going at maximum speed, so it can be done with rowing, cycling, swimming, etc. Keep the sprint interval at 10-30 seconds with a recovery interval of at least 5 times the sprint interval, and the recovery interval needs to be at no faster than walking pace.

People coming from the aerobic mindset typically don't want to make their recovery interval easy enough to maintain their intensity. They want to "keep their heart rate up." However, with sprints, you need to get your heart down enough that you can repeat at the same speed. Your heart rate will be elevated enough, if you've sprinted at maximum speed, that you don't have to try to keep it elevated.

Michael Paladin said...

Sprinting isn't like jogging. It actually does condition the upper body. However, it won't make it strong the way calisthenics or weight training do.

You can do upper body sprints, but they won't make you tremendously strong either. To be strong, you have to do strength exercises.

killermiller said...

what would u suggest 4 getting faster. weight training(squats and so...) or specific sprint training?
thx in advance

Michael Paladin said...

Heavy weights, low reps of 3-5 x 5 of swuats and deadlifts.

killermiller said...

thx michael for the quick answer! doesn´t that make my muscle fibers slow twitching, or is that good with my sprint training?
thx again

Michael Paladin said...

No, since more force is used, lifting heavy weights recruits fast twitch fibers, the same used in sprinting.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael for the very helpful article. I started sprinting last week and liked it very much. I am 21 years old and 5.8 inches tall. I am not sure if I add few more inches but I am practicing Yoga to correct my posture. You have mentioned that sprinting produces HGH; will it help me grow tall?

Michael Paladin said...

Not at 21, probably.

Anonymous said...

"Sprinting is just going at maximum speed, so it can be done with rowing, cycling, swimming, etc. Keep the sprint interval at 10-30 seconds with a recovery interval of at least 5 times the sprint interval, and the recovery interval needs to be at no faster than walking pace."

Hi Michael, just found this site, I love what you're saying -- always hated jogging, and sprinting seems more natural, as you've pointed out.

I'm going to take your interval and intensity advice and see if I can apply it to running stairs. Where I work that will be convenient. Getting that maximum "sprint" going might be a challenge though, but I'd like to try. Let me know if you think I'll be wasting my time.

Michael Paladin said...

Running stadium steps is a time-honored training method.

Katielase said...

Thanks for this article. I just ran my first attempt at a sprint set, I've done interval training before but this is the first time I've really tried to sprint since I was at school (I'm 25 now). I was shcoked I couldn't do more than 5. The 6th set I wasn't doing a full sprint so I gave up and cooled down since I figured it wasn't worth it if I wasn't able to do it properly. I was worried I hadn't done enough but this has helped me feel better about it! I can try to complete the 6th sprint next time, then the 7th, 8th 9th and 10th... :-)

Michael Paladin said...

What you don't do, eventually you can't do. I can guarantee that if you tried jumping, you'll be shocked at the weak results.

You're at a good age to work on retaining your youthful abilities since people your age set world records in sprints and jumps. It will be much harder and take longer to recapture them later in life.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, Need your advice. I have tried sprint with 100 m course with 5 to 6 repetitions. My average speed is about 21 seconds. Btw I am 29 yrs old with 1.79 m height and 105 kg.
The first time I tried sprint, I felt pain for almost 2 weeks on my right knee. My physiotherapist told me that my ligament was torn a bit.
Anyway I tried to continue to sprint again, but how to avoid injuring my knee?
Thank you.

Michael Paladin said...

Warm up more thoroughly. Walk, jog, and stride. Walk at least five minutes, add jogging for five minutes, and then do 4 x 50 meter strides. Strides are done with sprint form and quick turnover, but without the hard push-off of a full sprint. It wouldn't hurt to do several sprint workouts of just strides instead of all-out sprints until you condition your body to sprinting again.

Anonymous said...

I love this article! I learned about sprinting and I agree. Btw I'm the fastest guy in the school and i can even win against the guys in high school(and I'm only in junior high school). I wonder am I born with speed because I don't even do workouts and stuff. But I'm just weak on endurence, is it normal? I'm a skinny guy tho
What should I do to increase my endurence?

Anonymous said...

there's been a lot of rain lately... but i've definitely fallen in love with sprint training - its lack of boredom, its benefits, etc. how can i incorporate sprint training at the gym? are there particular machines that are better to do sprints on? (besides the obvious, the treadmill. i hate cranking up the speed to like 11 on the treadmill. feels so unnatural) thanks!

Michael Paladin said...

Theoretically, any activity could be turned into a sprint I suppose. I personally don't like machines and never use them. A stationary bike is only one I could reluctantly recommend.

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