Here’s a basic, “step-one” kind of fitness tip, a sprint routine that can serve as anyone’s foray into the world of sprint workouts. More efficient than jogging or walking, sprinting takes less time out of your schedule but requires that you work at full-effort for the duration of the workout.
Sprinting is the best variation of running-based exercise that there is, better than distance running and better than walking, and is certainly better than any form of machine-based cardio. But to get the most out of any sprint routine you truly must be able to run with 100% effort for the duration of the selected distance. For those of you who are used to your distance runs and walks, making the switch to sprinting can be a daunting task from both mental and physical standpoints.
Sprinting at 100% requires a physical and mental effort that is very different from the kind of effort required to jog. For most folks, it’s been so long since they sprinted – if they ever did – that their body and minds have forgotten how to do it. So in addition to my little endorsement here, I’m going to provide you with the most basic of sprint-based workouts and a few tips to help you make this transition to a more athletic, and ultimately more enjoyable and productive, kind of workout.
One basic rule of thumb that anyone can follow in order to design their own sprint-based workout is that for every second that you spend sprinting at 100% you rest for 6-10 seconds. For starters, keep the sprint duration at a maximum of 6 seconds and use the maximum rest period as well. Now I know you are all smart enough to figure this out for yourselves, but following this guideline you’d sprint for 6 seconds and rest for 60 seconds. Technically, this is called the “work-to-rest” ratio.
After warming up with some light jogging for a couple of minutes, calisthenics and dynamic flexibility work, perform 2-3 sprints at about 75% effort to get your body used to the new “sprint stride” that you will be using. If you’ve been jogging, or just haven’t sprinted in a while, concentrate on, even over-exaggerate, getting your knees high, leaning your body slightly forward and pumping your arms in conjunction with your sprint strides. Stay on the balls of feet, and try to bounce a little as you stride. Don’t be “heavy-footed” and stomp your feet, or come down heels first when sprinting.
For your first workout, shoot for a minimum of six sprints with a maximum of 8, and be strict with the rest periods. Just because you may not feel winded after the first two sprints, don’t shorten the rest period. Be patient. Because of the complex way the body fuels itself during this kind of activity, you want to condition your body to work efficiently along the lines of this work-to-rest ratio. Don’t focus on a distance, but on the time you spend sprinting.
Sticking to the guidelines mentioned above, a workout consisting of 8 sprints of 6-seconds in duration each, with a 60-second rest in between takes 8-minutes to finish. The wear and tear on the body will be much less than it would be if you jogged for 8-minutes – let alone 30-minutes – as the total time spent running is 48-seconds. The intensity level that the body must contend during a sprint workout is more beneficial to improving your overall level of fitness than is the low-intensity exercise provided by jogging or walking. The high-intensity nature of a sprint workout makes this form of running the most efficient and effective form of cardiovascular training. With the added benefit of drastically reducing the amount of stress placed on the body, everyone should incorporate sprint training into their routine.