Thursday, March 01, 2012

Sprint Training : Less Time, Better Results

Everyone is busy. From elite athletes to weekend warriors, everyone has demands on their schedule that make fitting in a regular, 60 minute cardio workout difficult. If you are tight for time, but still interested in getting a full workout, sprint training may be right for you. As an added benefit, it also improves your physical conditioning. In fact, some athletes actually prefer sprint training because they see greater results during intense sprint training sessions, in less time than their traditional ones. And, frankly, who wouldn’t love more results from less time and effort?

But, What Is Sprint Training?
Sprint training involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest and recovery. If the weather is nice, this intense workout can be performed outdoors, but a treadmill works just as well. Individual programs may vary based on your current level of fitness and conditioning, but usually include 30 seconds of all out sprinting and 60 seconds of resting. This 2:1 ratio of fast, explosive energy followed by a resting period is essential to allow the body time to recover before the next set. This cycle can be repeated 6 – 8 times and should include a warm up period as well as a cool down period at the end. The goal is to develop explosive power, which can’t be achieved from a cardio activity like jogging. Elite college, Olympic and professional athletes use sprint training to help them with everything from getting off the blocks a split second faster at their next race to being able to pull away from the defender and make that amazing catch on the football field. Even if your glory days are behind you, sprint training still has many benefits to offer.

5 Added Benefits
In addition to time management, sprint training can have numerous beneficial health effects.

  1. EPOC: Otherwise known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, EPOC is the amount of energy it takes for your body to return to normal after an exceptionally challenging workout. In other words, your body is continuing to burn calories long after you finish your session. Researchers originally discovered this phenomenon in 1922, dubbing it oxygen debt, but these days they are aware of the positive effects of EPOC on a body from weight management perspective due to the large caloric burn associated with it.
  2. Upregulate: When your body becomes accustomed to this type of workout, it produces more of certain enzymes that increase the storage capacity of the muscle for energy substrates, such as ATP. Not surprisingly, this, in turn, allows you to work both harder and faster for longer and longer periods of time without tiring. ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is the most-used energy source in a body. In fact, if DNA is the building block of life, ATP is the building block of energy, powering almost all cellular activities.
  3. Phosphate Metabolism: Basically, this phosphate works at conserving and transferring energy at a cellular level and phosphate creatine stores comprise a major component of the body’s fuel source for muscular activity. Obviously, anything you can do to improve your phosphate metabolism is going to assist you in other areas of training and performance. Most notably, myokinase, which is an enzyme that is responsible for resynthesizing the energy from phosphate creatine, it will increase its concentration within the muscle tissue by up to 20% after sprint training.
  4. Glycolysis: This occurs after you’ve been doing sprint training for a period of time. The basic biology lesson is that glycolysis is the primary form of metabolism used during a 10 second all out sprint and contributes between 55 and 75% towards energy production during exercise.
  5. Buffering Capacity: Another adaptation that’s experienced with sprint training is the buffering capacity of the muscle. Many byproducts are created during glycolysis, including lactic acid. When these accumulate in the body, it generates extreme feelings of fatigue in the muscle tissues, which, unfortunately, forces many athletes to stop exercising as this fatigue sets in. Luckily, sprint training increases one’s ability to buffer these byproducts and this increased buffering capacity allows an athlete to extend both workout length and intensity.


Sprint training is not for everyone however. Beginners should concentrate on getting a strong base of fitness and gradually build up their volume of training, intensity and endurance. In fact, starting a sprint training workout without advance preparation can cause muscle soreness and may even cause injury to those ill-equipped. Taking the time to work towards a sprint training goal is important, even as long as a month or two. Being prepared only makes it that much more effective in the long run. As with any new exercise regime, check with your physician before starting any program.


Sprint training is a great way to improve your overall health and conditioning. The short, explosive bursts of intense physical activity help at a cellular level by upregulating enzyme production that aids in energy storage and, in turn, by increasing phosphate metabolism that assists in both energy storage and transfer. Furthermore, the body’s overall buffering capacity is improved, which prevents the by-products of intense workout activities, such as lactic acid, from causing fatigue. In fact, athletes who incorporate sprint training into their regimes see a dramatic improvement in their endurance and general cardiovascular fitness in a very short time, which is extremely important to serious athletes, both professional and amateur alike.

Sprint training is also a great way for busy athletes to cram an intensely physical workout into their hectic schedules. For those who have no intention of setting foot on a football field, a race track or in a swimming pool but still have a competitive spirit and a desire to improve their performance, sprint training is a great choice. The fact that it can push one to new levels, with greater benefits in less time is a tremendous benefit. The next time you’re tight on time and schedule-challenged, choose sprint training over a longer, less effective 60 minute cardio session.


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