Top 5 Benefits of Sprinting
If you’re even remotely interested in fitness and training for results, then you’ve no doubt heard people compare sprinters to marathon runners. Why is that? There are a lot of factors to consider when comparing the two, but today let’s look at 5 reasons why short, sharp sprints far outweigh endurance training when it comes to fat loss and hormonal health.
Whether your goal is to improve cardiovascular capacity, to increase muscle size, to lose body fat or to improve power and speed, sprinting is a great tool to have in your kit! Tweaking intensity, duration, and recovery will allow you to target the energy systems and muscle fibres you need for the result that you want. If you’re not sure how, speak to a coach!
2. Maintaining Lean Muscle Mass
We know that more lean muscle mass means more calories burnt each day. We know that more calories burnt each day means less body fat, nutrition pending, of course! So how does sprinting help muscle mass if it’s considered cardio? Well, sprint training not only breaks down muscle fibres to promote both strength and growth, but it also produces large amounts of lactic acid, which encourages the production of growth hormone. Don’t be fooled by the name, growth hormone is a powerful promoter of fat burning too!
3. The Afterburn
In the fitness world “the afterburn” is a term used to describe the number of calories burned after you stop exercising. While strength training trumps all other modalities here, a good sprint session holds a strong second place and is far more effective than a steady-state run (or equivalent) when it comes to fat loss results. The bonus? Sprint training can be over and done with in 20 minutes or less! More calories in less time. Win win, right?!
4. It’s Adaptable
Some have argued that sprinting in it’s most well known form, on foot, outweighs all other methods of sprint training when it comes to the best results. But high-intensity anaerobic training of any kind reaps great rewards, and you can absolutely modify your session to suit different skill sets and bodies. For example, someone who is quite overweight or bearing previous injury may not be able to run a flat-out sprint down at the local oval. However, getting behind a weighted sled slows the pace right down and lessens impact on the joints, whilst still maintaining intensity. Have you ever tried a 10 minute tabata set behind one of those monsters? Ouch!
5 . Reduced Cortisol = Reduced Belly Fat
Did you know that chronically elevated cortisol (our stress hormone) often leads to excess fat storage around your tummy, not to mention nasty effects on your immune system and overall health? Truth! Your body doesn’t discriminate when it comes to stress. Be it physical or emotional, stress causes our body to release cortisol, and that includes the physical stress induced by exercise. This is all part of our natural “fight or flight” response and is super handy if you’re being chased by a lion or need to perform on game day. Not-so-handy, however, when you’re constantly strung out, worrying about work or how to pay the bills!
Research has repeatedly shown that cortisol is significantly higher in endurance athletes, and this exists well beyond their workout. One main reason for this is the lack of growth hormone and testosterone produced through aerobic, steady-state training. Anabolic hormones, including growth hormone and testosterone (both of which are elevated through sprint training) help to negate the nasty effects of cortisol, making sprint training a great tool to have in your kit if you’re looking to up the anti on your results from the inside, out.
Always keep in mind that there is a huge difference between training in a stop-start nature and actually training with 110% all-out effort. As I often say to my clients, if you can talk your way through a work phase, or even within the first 10 seconds of your rest interval, then you haven’t worked hard enough. Simple! There’s no arguing that training in this way is just as challenging mentally as it is physically, but now you have 5 powerful reasons why it’s totally worth the effort.