When most people think of running, they assume that distance training is the only way to be a successful endurance runner. However, sprinting is important for more than just entertainment during the summer Olympics. Sprinting, whether you are training for any distance race or run simply to keep in shape, can be a great way to add variety to your workouts, work on your speed and endurance, and can have a variety of different health benefits. This article will discuss all of these benefits, as well as give suggestions on how to get started on sprint interval training.
Benefits of Sprint Interval Training
- Sprint Interval Training Strengthens Core
- Sprint Interval Training Promotes Lean Muscle Growth
- Sprint Interval Training Helps Boost Metabolism and Fat Burning
- Sprint Interval Training Promotes Mental Stamina
- Sprint Interval Training For Beginners
Sprinting is great for building a tight and toned core. Beyond the aesthetic appeal of a toned six pack of abs, a strong core is important to keep the rest of your body working correctly. A strong core helps prevent injuries, protects your internal organs, protects your spine and nervous system, and promotes better posture.
Beyond a sexy core, sprint interval training promotes lean muscle throughout the body through quick and efficient movements. Lean muscle helps to increase your speed and your endurance throughout your training.
No matter how strong and defined your muscles are, if your body does not burn excess fat covering muscles, you will be unable to show off your muscles. Sprint interval training uses energy stores efficiently during the workout, burning more fat than a walking or jogging for the same amount of time. Additionally, sprinting continues to benefit you long after your workout is over by increasing your metabolism, helping you to lose weight and stay lean.
Many people who avoid sprint interval training do so because how difficult they believe that it will be. However, after completing sprint interval training workouts, even if they were difficult at the time, will help you tackle more of these workouts in the future. On top of physical stamina, your mental stamina after regularly sprinting will help you get through your longest races and toughest challenges.
Here are a couple of different options for beginners looking to start sprint interval training. If you are more experienced at running or specifically speed interval training, simply up the difficulty or distance, or decrease the time in between sets.
It is important to warm up and cool down sufficiently prior to and after these workouts. Walk briskly or jog ten to fifteen minutes before these intervals, and do the same ten to fifteen minutes after. Make sure to stretch to prevent injury and soreness as well.
- Interval One: One minute running at race pace, followed by one minute easy jogging or brisk walking
- Interval Two: Two minutes running at race pace, followed by two minutes easy jogging or brisk walking
- Interval Three: Three minutes running at race pace, followed by three minutes easy jogging or brisk walking
- Interval Four: Two minutes running at race pace, followed by two minutes easy jogging or brisk walking
- Interval Five: One minute running at race pace, followed by one minute easy jogging or brisk walking
To increase the challenge, repeat these intervals or make your way up to five minutes running at race pace before climbing back down the pyramid.
The ladder is similar to the pyramid, just a slightly different structure. In order to do this type of sprint interval training, find a track or other measured area and start out with one hundred yards.
- Interval one and seventeen: run at 90% capacity for 10 yards, walk or jog for 90 yards
- Interval two and sixteen: run at 90% capacity for 20 yards, walk or jog for 80 yards
- Interval three and fifteen: run at 90% capacity for 30 yards, walk or jog for 70 yards
- Interval four and fourteen: run at 90% capacity for 40 yards, walk or jog for 60 yards
- Interval five and thirteen: run at 90% capacity for 50 yards, walk or jog for 50 yards
- Interval six and twelve: run at 90% capacity for 60 yards, walk or jog for 40 yards
- Interval seven and eleven: run at 90% capacity for 70 yards, walk or jog for 30 yards
- Interval eight and ten: run at 90% capacity for 80 yards, walk or jog for 20 yards
- Interval nine: run at 90% capacity for 90 yards, walk or jog for 10 yards
To make this more difficult, repeat the ninth interval more than once or increase the total distance of the intervals to 200 yards instead of 100.
3 On, 3 Off
The concept of three on, three off is very simple. Run at 70 to 80% capacity for three minutes, followed by three minutes of brisk walking or easy jogging. Repeat this interval three to five times.
Sprint Hill Interval Training
Many runners love and hate hill workouts for their challenge, and hill sprinting workouts provide an extra challenge. Find a hill that is fairly steep and about 100 feet long. Run as fast as you can up the hill and walk back down the hill. Complete these intervals at least ten times.
Sprint Interval Training On Treadmill
You can complete the above speed interval training workouts on the treadmill fairly easily, and there are also interval training settings on treadmills preprogrammed in to help you stay focused on your workout. Here are a couple of other treadmill interval workouts you can utilize as well.
Incline Sprint Interval Training
After a brief warm up, set your incline to 2.0 and sprint just below your capacity for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of running or walking at a much more comfortable pace. Complete 10 or more intervals as such. For more experienced runners, run just below your capacity for one to two minutes followed by one minute of recovery.
Alternate Inclines Sprint Interval Training
For this sprinting interval training, pick at target mile time, and start off slightly slower than that. Start out at an incline of 5.0 and increase the incline every minute until you get to an incline of 10, and then decrease the incline back down to 5.0. As you are changing intervals, also increase your speed, so you are eventually not only running at your target mile mark, but above that as well. This interval circuit is fast and will definitely be a challenge, but a great way to finish two miles very quickly.
How Often Should I Complete Sprint Interval Training Workouts?
There are plenty of benefits associated with sprint interval training, but it is important to also incorporate other forms of physical activity as well. Aim for one to two sessions of interval training per week, allowing yourself at least 24 hours of rest in between sessions. Incorporate other forms of exercise two to three times a week, allowing yourself at least two days of complete rest or very minimal physical activity.
Interval Running App
If you are looking at becoming more serious about sprint interval training workouts or just need a good place to start, the below interval running applications you can download on your phone or tablets can help you get through your sprint interval training.
The iSmoothRun is one of the most popular running applications available for iPhones, iPods, and iPads. At $5.99, this application is a little pricey, but is highly rated and is highly customizable as a GPS tracker, pedometer, and stopwatch to get the most out of your workout.
Bit Timer is available for apple products, and promises to be the simplest interval timer available. For $1.99, it is much cheaper than iSmoothRun and does enough for beginner sprint interval runners to get the hang of this type of training. This app is also very highly rated on the Apple Application Store.
HIIT Workout Timer
The HIIT Workout Timer, available for android phones and tablets, is highly rated and highly customizable, allowing you to enter in your warmup and cool down times, your sprinting and rest times, and how many intervals you want to complete. Best yet, it’s free!
Sprinting is a great way to get and stay in shape, even if at some points it can seem incredibly daunting. Don’t expect miracles from your body right away, but with a little patience and persistence, regularly completing speed interval training workouts can make you faster, stronger, and mentally prepared to take on any race or workout set in front of you.
Whether you choose one of the above workouts or another way to integrate sprinting into your routine, make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy carbohydrates, along with plenty of water, in order to make the best of your workout.