Sprinting is a very effective and efficient way to improve your fitness level. Over the past several years there there been several studies that support my feeling that sprinting is the only form of running the vast majority of people should do.
In the May 2011 edition of the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, results of a study done by a team of researchers from Australia provides the basis for a fantastic workout. I read this stuff so you guys don’t have to. And rather than bore you with the details, I’ll just hit you with the key points.
The findings of the study are that 8 sessions of repeated sprint training over 4 weeks improved Intermittent Peak Running Speed (IPRS), above and beyond regular training. This breaks down to 10 maximal sprints of 80 meters (87 yards) every 25 seconds, twice a week for 4 weeks; a true 10-minute workout.
The researchers also found that this kind of training can also develop maximum running speed and anaerobic capacity. This is good stuff. This means you are getting into great shape. This kind of workout puts a fraction of the impact on your body when compared to distance running. These findings support the, “Quality over quantity,” approach, in that doing more than 10 sprints did not result in any measurable improvements.
Ten minutes of high quality exercise is superior to 20- or 30-minutes of sub-maximal effort. This is all good, no, great news. However, the bad news is that it is very tough for most people to perform a true maximal sprint of any distance, and even tougher to perform repeated 87-yard maximal sprints with only 25-seconds of rest in between.
Anyone who has sprinted knows this. And when you realize that it will take most people around 15-seconds to finish this sprint, you can see that this is a butt-kicking workout. You will derive a great deal of benefit if you start slow and work up to the full workout as used in the study.
I recommend starting with 10, 40-yard sprints with 25-seconds rest in between and working up to the full, 87-yard distance. There are many ways that you can do this. You can stick with the 40s, you can mix and match sprints of various distances and keep to the 25-second rest periods, or even use slightly longer rest periods.
A good rule of thumb to use is that for every second of sprint, take 4-6 seconds of rest, so if you sprint for 5 seconds rest for 20-30 seconds. Give the sprint workout a try and improve your speed and fitness level.