Sprinting training has been one of the most common training patterns that coaches use to elevate the performance of professional athletes.
Most of the people would be happy to choose jogging over a sprinting session, and why not, sprinting pushes them out of their comfort zone.
Sprint training involves a high degree of physical effort and acute discomfort, that’s the reason most people try to avoid sprint training.
One thing to note here, Sprint training is not only about high intensity running, but you can also use your exercise bike or elliptical for the sprint training.
I have been asked this multiple times, coach, it is worth the effort, 30-minute jogging at medium pace would feel a lot easier. In this article, we are going to discuss 13 reasons that make sprint training special.
Sprint training benefits
If you are worried about the acute discomfort and mental exhaustion, then don’t worry, your body will adapt to the sprint training routine within 3-4 weeks, then you won’t feel those acute acute exhaustion.
1# Boost Testosterone Levels
Want to get lean and muscular naturally? Then this is the hormone that you should focus on.
Testosterone is a male sex hormone that is responsible for many functions. In men, it’s thought to regulate sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm.
High-intensity training has been known to be especially beneficial for boosting testosterone levels.
In one study, boost in testosterone levels has been noted for volunteers who performed a series of very short (but intense) 6-second sprints. The best part is, their testosterone levels remained elevated even after those people had fully recovered from the sprint workout.
Another study conducted at the Department of Exercise & Sport Science, University of North Carolina, researchers studied Testosterone responses to intensive interval versus steady-state endurance exercise. High-intensity sprinting sessions were found to have more profound effects on testosterone levels.
But do you really need to boost your testosterone levels?
Yes, modern lifestyle has ruined our bodies to a greater extent. Low activity levels and bad food choices have made the situation worse.
2# Makes You Agile
Professional athletes undergo sprint training on a regular basis to improve agility and functional capability.
Sprint training majorly targets Type ll (fast-twitch) muscle fibers that are responsible for developing explosive power. On the other hand, steady-state endurance work targets Type l (slow-twitch) muscle fibers that are responsible for endurance work.
Agility will also help in improving physical performance in various functional movements, you will get better in sports.
3# Improves Heart Health
Sprint training seriously challenges your heart to work on its full potential, yes, it has some advantages over the steady-state cardio.
Papers published in the American College of Sports Medicine compared the oxygen consumption in Steady-state training and HIIT bouts. Researchers found considerable improvements in their VO2 max (a measure of oxygen use) and peak power output of athletes who were made to follow HIIT routine.
Also, High intensity sprinting forces your heart to pump more blood into the system which is directly correlated to heart health.
Another study published in The Journal of Physiology compared the sprint interval training with high volume interval training. Researchers found, Given the large difference in training volume, these data demonstrate that SIT (sprint interval training )is a time‐efficient strategy to induce rapid adaptations in skeletal muscle and exercise performance that is comparable to ET (Endurance training) in young active men.
4# After Burn Effects
What makes sprint training so special? It’s the after-burn effect that gives you the best bang of your bucks.
The “afterburn” effect is just a fancy word that is technically known as “Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption” or EPOC. EPOC gives your body the ability to burn calories for several hours after training.
When you follow High-intensity sprint training, it depletes the muscle oxygen reserves at a fast pace. This sudden increase in demand for oxygen (VO2), triggers new adaptation within the body and pushes your body to restore its oxygen reserves and flush out other oxidative stress.
This whole process of EPOC is known as “Afterburn effects”. Additionally, these afterburn effects can be experienced even after 48 hours of the training session, which means your metabolic rate stays elevated for a very long time that definitely helps in burning more calories.
5# Gain Muscle
Ever wondered, why do sprinters look soo jacked and muscular?
It’s because of the two major reasons:
- Boost in testosterone levels
- Development of fast-twitch muscles
We have already discussed the role of testosterone in the human body, it not only promotes lean muscle development but also prevents muscle catabolization.
There are two types of muscle fibers, fast-twitch muscle fibers, and slow-twitch muscle fibers. Slow-twitch muscle fibers do the endurance work and they are capable of delivering sustained energy for a longer period of time. Fast-twitch muscles are responsible for explosive power but they reach exhaustion fairly quickly.
Spring training trains type II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers that the reason sprinters develop stronger and muscular legs.
A steady-state cardio session does not exert extensive pressure on your skeletal muscles, on the other hand, spring training requires full-body efforts to reach the maximum velocity. This full-body effort promotes the development of lean and muscular looks.
While steady-state cardio that is known to break down muscle protein as well, sprint training helps in the preservation of muscle mass due to the production of testosterone.
5# Lower Heart Rate
But, we usually get out of breath while sprint training, so how does sprint training help in lowering down heart rate?
It’s all because of your body’s ability to adapt.
Sprint training evokes an increase in the maximum stroke volume of the heart. Stroke volume can be defined as the amount of blood your heart can pump into the system in a single stroke.
Consistent practice of sprint training strengthens the heart to pump a greater volume of blood in every stroke. Now to keep up with normal supply, your heart needs to produce lesser strokes because of improved efficiency, this helps in reducing blood pressure.
7# You Make More Mitochondria
Mitochondria is also known as the powerhouse of cell. Sprint training forces your body to promote different kinds of adaptation.
Sprinting at full velocity leads to muscle exhaustion and depletion of glycogen reserves, it also sends signals to the brain that muscle requires more energy.
To fulfill the body’s energy demands, your body adapts to the sprint training by activating “mitochondrial biogenesis”, this process stimulates the creation of more mitochondria in muscle cells.
The creation of more mitochondria not only helps in the production of more energy but also improves the metabolic rate which transforms you into a calorie-burning machine.
This is a cell diagram, and as you can see, there are multiple mitochondria present in cells and you can increase the number by optimum training.
8# Get Better Result In Lesser Time
While there are people who deliberately avoid regular workouts, there are others who can’t stay regular at the gym because of lack of time.
An average gym session takes 2-hours, including time invested to get ready, travel time, warm-up, workout, stretching, and changing again. I understand, daily 8-10 hours of job + family, it’s not always possible to spare time for the workout.
A simple 20 minutes of sprint training can help you burn more calories than an hour of jogging. It’s not only time saving but will also boost your declining sex drive, promote improved posture, and keeps you energetic.
9# Stress Buster
Just like any other form of exercise, sprint training also stimulates the release of endorphins that act as natural painkillers.
You may not agree with this benefit; indeed, the first steps are the hardest but your body starts to adapt to sprint training within a few weeks then you will start to depend on it.
Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts — or, at least, the hot shower after your exercise is over.
10# Mental Toughness
We live in a society where constant hustle is an absolute requirement to climb up the ladder of success. Sprint training not only trains you physically but mentally as well.
Sprint training pushes your brain to work out of your comfort zone that brings neurological adaptations and develops mental toughness.
11# Insulin Sensitivity
A meta-analysis conducted on The effects of high-intensity interval training on glucose regulation and insulin resistance by researchers from the UK. The meta-analysis found, HIIT training not only reduces the blood glucose levels but also improves the insulin sensitivity when compared to traditional steady-state cardio.
Those who don’t known the benefits of improved insulin sensitivity:
- It allows the cell to absorb glucose from blood more effectively.
- Improving insulin sensitivity can reduce the risk of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, thyroid conditions, and more.
- No more sugar crash and reduction in a constant food craving.
- It will help you lose weight faster.
- Clearer skin
12# Sprint Training Attacks Stubborn Fat
Sprint training attacks your stubborn fat from multiple dimensions.
- It helps you train the fast-twitch muscle that improves metabolic rate
- Afterburn effects allow you to burn calories throughout the day.
- The production of more mitochondria increases energy production and power output.
- High testosterone levels are directly correlated to lower body fat ratio.
- Improves insulin sensitivity also promotes fat loss.
But endurance athletes look leaner, right? They look lean because of low muscle mass.
Interestingly research compared the body composition of a sprinter and endurance athletes, the study involved 15 sprinters, 16 endurance sprinters, 10 middle-distance runners, and 13 long-distance runners. Body fat percentage, body mass index, and somatotype were also calculated and compared. Researchers found: sprinters tend to have lower body fat percentages because of their training pattern.
In short, those long runs around the city might make you look leaner but they are costing you precious muscle mass and strength as well.
13# Reverse Aging
How does sprinting reverse the aging process? To understand this we need to look at a few factors that determine the growing age.
Obviously, sprinting can not make a 40-years old person look 16 years old but it can surely help you feel like you felt in your 30’s.
How does sprint training reverse aging?
Improves cardiovascular health:
Cardiovascular diseases are one of the major causes of death in all developed countries, one of the reasons behind is wrong lifestyle habits.
As we have already discussed, sprint training will strengthen your heart to work better, it will also help with lowering blood pressure.
Far better energy levels:
Low energy levels are one of the staple explanations for growing age. Training your fast-twitch muscle to perform powerful bursts of movements will definitely make you feel stronger. The creation of new mitochondria also assists in improving energy levels.
Regain your sex drives:
Low-fat percentage and higher testosterone levels will surely help you regain your sex drives that most of the male start to loose after crossing 40s.
Bone and joint health:
Depleting bone mass and poor joint health is another age-related problem that most of the sedentary people experience.
Fast bouts of sprints will help you strengthen those bones and joints. Sprinting is categorized as a weight-bearing training which helps improve bone and joint health.
Last but not the least, sprint training will help you look better and stronger by muscle-wasting effects of ageing.
Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always.