Sprinting is one of the purest and most powerful physique-shaping exercises. Though it may seem a sprinter is propelling just their legs as they surge through the track or down a road, a variety of muscles are at work to help make the body as lean as it can be. But sprinting also has many benefits beyond physical ones, such as providing stress relief and building perseverance and discipline.
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Builds strength – Sprints are a type of anaerobic exercise, this means that they will trigger muscle building, increasing the size and strength of the powerful, fast-twitch fibers. A study conducted in 2012 showed sprinting can enhance protein synthesis pathways by as much as 230 percent! With the right nutrition and recovery, this will lead to muscle building, allowing your body to become leaner and enabling you to run faster, longer, and more efficiently.
- Lose fat – Sprint training is one of the most efficient conditioning exercises that can create significant and notable fat loss. Compared to long and steady aerobic training, like running or jogging, sprinting enables you to lose body whereas in aerobic training, you are more likely to lose body mass – which includes fat, but also water weight. When wanting to lose weight and become healthier, you should aim to lose fat. You can definitely do that by doing a sprint training, where you will burn fat faster and preserve or even build muscle. In fact, a Nutrition journal study conducted in 2004 showed that fat metabolism is most effective during during running at intensities between 47 and 64%, depending on athletic ability, while another study by Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews showed that high intensity interval training can improve skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and endurance performance.
- Expand endurance – Doing sprints can help your endurance in long distance running as well. In fact, sprinting is one of the most efficient ways to build your endurance. Going at max speeds on a sprint will improve your endurance capacity, amplifying your maximal oxygen uptake and increasing the time it takes for fatigue to set in. Since sprints train the body to burn fat for fuel, they preserve muscle glycogen and prolonging work capacity.
- Increase speed and power – Sprinting is essentially speed training. Since sprints build muscle and target the fast-twitch fibers, they increase your speed and power, leading to a faster running or cycling speed. With an explosive start, you are putting a load of power in you muscles and the more you repeat this, the more your power speed increases.
- Improves heart health – Sprinting also comes with cardiovascular benefits. It can help lower your blood pressure. The fast-twitch muscles that you are building with sprints can improve your heart function. Doing all those explosions and putting all that extra effort on your muscles, makes your heart work and pump harder which will strengthen your heart. Also like every exercise, you have better circulation. Having a strong heart will reduces your chances of getting a heart disease.
- Builds mental toughness – Sprints are a challenging workout. There may be moments of uncertainty in the middle of your workout that challenge your ability to finish. It is important, however, to not give in. Pushing through the discomfort will enable you to break past records and build your confidence in your emotional and physical abilities.
- Reduce stress – Sprinting, like other forms of exercise, produces endorphins which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and provide you with a “feel good” sensation. The release of endorphins stimulates confidence and relief, especially after having successfully completed a workout.
- Saves time – Sprints are quick bursts of movements, and as such, they are just as and often more time effective than jogging for an hour. If you are crunched for time, sprints are a great way to maximize your workout with half the time!
- Improves glucose control/insulin –A 2009 study by BMC Endocrine Disorders found high intensity workouts substantially improved insulin levels and had could reduce metabolic syndrome risk factors, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and abdominal body fat. Sprints work so well for glucose control because they deplete the body of supply of of glycogen, the sugar stored inside of our muscles. The only way our body can get rid of excess sugar in our blood is to first make it run down its glycogen inventories in our muscles. The only way to squeeze glycogen out of the inventories are exercises that involve intense contractions such as sprints.
- You can perform this workout in a variety of ways/settings: Sprinting isn’t restricted to a 100 meter dash. They can be performed in a number of different settings and ways. From 200 meter dashes with 30 seconds of rest to a full 400 and a minute’s rest, you can sprint and rest to whatever challenges you. Even if you have bad knees, you can get your sprints in by cycling or swimming because they are easier on your joints. You can also run hills, row or even use the elliptical.
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