Those of you who know me probably know that I generally believe in investing your energy in what is most effective. In other words, I think you should pick the things that give you the most bang for your buck and get really good at doing them.
This principle works for all areas of life. But since I’m not feeling overly philosophical at the moment, I’m going to apply this rule solely to your fitness and fat loss goals!
So what exercise gives you the most fat burning “bang for your buck”? For most people, the answer is clear. You should be sprinting!
Not jogging, not running on a treadmill, and definitely not following the typical “fat burning protocol” that you can find in just about every fitness magazine.
I’m talking about real sprint training — the type of sprint workouts that I prescribe to my athletes. Obviously the athletes I train are primarily looking to increase their strength, speed and power. However, it’s a nice bonus that they quickly get incredibly lean and develop awesome physiques while they are attaining their athletic goals.
Why sprint? Well, sprinting is the ultimate full body exercise. It literally engages every muscle in your entire body. This leads to greater metabolic demands, which makes sprinting a very potent fat burner.
But the advantages of sprinting go far beyond that. Here are some of the great benefits that sprinting can provide:
1) The intensity of sprinting causes it to activate your type 2b muscle fibers. These fibers have the most potential for growth and strength development. When these fibers are activated in short explosive bursts (which happens when you sprint), muscle building and/or maintenance is encouraged (even during a fat loss routine).
2) Sprinting trains the posterior chain (especially the hamstrings and glutes) better than most “targeted” gym exercises.
Because of this training effect, there is less of a need to load your spine in the gym by performing large volumes of posterior chain exercises (i.e. deadlifts, good mornings, etc). Replacing some of these exercises with a well-performed sprint can actually lessen the risk of overtraining.
3) Sprinting is very time efficient. Sprinting just twice a week can give you the same fat-burning effect you would get if you performed traditional cardio four times per week. And yes, I have observed this phenomenon on a regular basis!
4) Sprinting isn’t boring! Although sprint training can be tough, it feels more like a sport than a mind-numbing workout, which so many cardio workouts feel like.
5) Sprinting is less catabolic than other forms of cardio. Due to the effectiveness of sprinting, a relatively low volume of work is necessary for a great training effect. This helps prevent chronic rises in cortisol. For those of you who don’t know, cortisol is a catabolic (muscle wasting) adrenal hormone that we don’t want to be high for very long, if it all.
On the other hand, a less effective exercise would require you to do more volume of work in order to give you the same fat burning effect. This extra training volume usually leaves you bathing in cortisol, which has a negative impact on your overall results.
6) Sprinting works your joints through a full range of motion. This is a HUGE point. When performing traditional fat burning exercises (biking, treadmill, elliptical, etc.), joint range of motion is only partial. This can eventually lead to loss of mobility, tightness and potential injuries.
7) Sprinting requires you to do some mobility work as part of your warm up. This is almost a continuation of point number 5. If there is one aspect of training that is neglected by most people, it is mobility work. I’m even guilty of blowing it off myself at times. It’s just not a fun or exciting part of a workout.
But if I’m sprinting, I will never miss my mobility work. It is ALWAYS performed during my warm up because I know that the price to pay for neglecting it is a potential injury. This keeps me honest, and is better for my body over the long term. It will be better for yours, too!
8- Sprinting increases athleticism. I think this goes without saying. Even if this is not your primary goal, how can that be a bad thing?
This list of benefits could go on, but those are the main points I wanted to touch on. Before we go any further, we need to address who should and shouldn’t be sprinting.
Basically, the only reason I would dissuade someone from sprinting is if they were at risk of injury. The people who are at high risks from sprinting are:
1) Very overweight people- If you are more than 55 pounds overweight, use other less stressful methods until you reach a more reasonable bodyweight. The extra weight will, at the very least, put excessive wear and tear on your joints.
The ONLY exception to this rule is highly trained individuals. For example, a football lineman may be overweight but can handle short sprints due to his high level of training and conditioning.
2) Very uncoordinated individuals- Sprinting safely and effectively does require proper body mechanics. If your mechanics are poor, you can definitely get injured.
The good news is that most people can develop the skill to sprint reasonably well. The bad news is that you may have to hire a qualified coach, at least at the beginning, to teach you proper mechanics.
3) Very out-of-shape people- If you are completely untrained, you must start off very slow and build your speed/distance up over time.
Another example in the category is someone who is totally detrained. This includes former athletes or anyone who has taken a significant amount of time off.
For example, if the last time you sprinted was on mischief night after “egging” your high school principal, you should treat yourself like you are untrained! Again, start slow and build up over time.
If you are a potential candidate for sprinting, you need to do it properly to maximize its benefits.
How to maximize the benefits of sprinting will be covered in Part 2, where you’ll learn:
? How to properly warm up for a sprint workout
? Exact drills to increase mobility and sprint performance- VIDEO
? At which intensity level your sprints should be performed and why
? Precise sprint mechanics that are easy to implement and pay big dividends
In the meantime, drop me your comments/questions below and tell me about your experiences with sprint training!
Dedicated to your success,