Is sprinting right for you?

Sprinting is more than running faster. It multitasks by improving cardiovascular health, increasing endurance and burning calories. Including sprinting in an exercise routine can provide many benefits, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all activity, and there are things to consider before embarking on this high-intensity exercise. Everyone should consider technique, risks and other factors before sprinting.

Benefits of sprinting

Sprinting regulates fat-burning hormones increasing their production and maintaining these elevated levels for a longer period of time.

Since sprinting is anaerobic (like weightlifting but unlike jogging), it is also beneficial for people interested in building muscle. The increased load in combination with the use of many muscles at the same time results in: the growth and resistance of muscle cells.

Ideal candidates for sprinting

Adding sprints to a workout tackles many fitness goals at once. The first and most common is the desire to burn excess fat. Sprints are much more geared towards weight loss than long-distance jogging or steady-state running. As mentioned, sprinting is also good for building muscle, so it is often combined with strength training to increase body mass.

People interested in toning or strengthening their midsection should also sprint. In addition to strengthening the thighs and calves, building strength and converting it to speed also engages the core muscles. As result, the belly and back also receive a total workout of sprints.

Prepare for sprinting

Sprints can be intense and people should keep this in mind when adding them to an exercise routine. For beginners, it is common to overdo it and tire the muscles. Beginners and seasoned runners alike should make sure to warm up their muscles through dynamic stretches that target the hamstrings, calves and quadriceps.

The next step is to do a short sprint and measure the level of muscle fatigue. Experts don’t recommend sprinting at full throttle as it can cause complications later on. After a short sprint (5 to 15 seconds), it is best to rest for 30 seconds or more before attempting another sprint. The slow start helps the sprinter to prepare his body for more intensity later on.

Types of sprinting

The sprint training for beginners described above revolves around short sprints and long rest periods. These can range from five to fifteen second sprints with thirty seconds to one hour of rest.

A hill sprint workout requires the runner to sprint up an incline, which improves form and builds more muscle.

Pyramid training consists of increasing the sprint time and shortening the rest time. After increasing the speed, the sprinter does the same process in reverse. This is suitable for warming up and cooling down.

sprint technique

Sprint and running techniques vary. The most important factors to consider are posture and strength production. The correct attitude for sprinting requires a neutral pelvis and for the sprinter to place their striking foot under their center of gravity. An upright stance is essential because leaning forward can push the rest of the stance out of position.

With the right attitude, power production can do the rest. The more vertical force you produce with each stride, the faster your sprint becomes.

Ideal timing for sprinting

Sprinting is best done after the first warm-up of the workout. At this point, the muscles are stretched but not fatigued, as they could be if you did a different type of workout first. This can help prevent painful muscle twitches. In addition, there is less chance of muscle failure at this stage due to their resting state.

Worst timing for sprinting

Many experts advise against sprinting after jogging. This may seem counterintuitive, as jogging warms up the muscles, leading us to assume that a light run is beneficial for a sprint. However, jogging or running can have the opposite effect and put additional strain on the hamstrings. This can be especially problematic for novice sprinters.

Potential Risks of Sprinting

Sprinting requires the fast-twitch muscles of the legs to use their maximum contraction. As a result, this exercise carries a greater risk of muscle strain than running and jogging. Another risk is joint strain. By applying as much force as possible with each step, sprinting creates more impact on the joints. Regular stress and impact can cause damage.

Preventing injuries from sprinting

It is best to sprint every day. Taking rest days or doing other workouts in between intense runs lowers the risk of muscle fatigue and muscle failure. It is also essential to maintain proper sprinting posture to minimize joint injuries. Avoid walking heel-first as it can increase impact on the knee joint.

Complications of sprinting

Hamstring injuries are the most common injuries among the regular sprinters. This type of injury generally requires a long and complex rehabilitation process and can be a source of chronic pain. Joint failure from using the wrong technique is another consideration. Paying attention to every step of the process – warm up, during, cool down and recovery – will significantly reduce the risk of injury.