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If you are looking to get a strong, athletic and lean physique then it is time to ditch the long and boring cardio and get sprinting.
Besides, doing traditional cardio is not the way you really want to go if you are looking to preserve muscle. It may be easier than doing sprint work but easier isn’t always better, in fact, it’s usually worse when it comes to just about any form of exercise.
Whether you are an athlete, bodybuilder, weekend warrior or just a fitness fanatic your physique can be greatly improved if you work in some sprinting work into your routine.
While for the basis of this article we are talking about the simple running variety of sprinting there are other forms of sprints you can do that will also be effective. You can do them on a bike, swimming, jumping rope or if you really like self-torture you can do sprints with burpees. You can also take your running sprints to the next level and do them uphill.
If you are able to do sprints you should be, and here are 8 reasons why.
8 Reasons Why You Must Sprint for a Better Physique
Here are 8 reasons why if you are able-bodied and can do sprints that you should be doing them.
#1 Sprints Burn Fat
Sprints are likely the king of all fat loss exercises you can do. This is why so many people are doing HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) with sprints. If you are not familiar with HIIT training it is where you do interval training using high-intensity exercises such as sprints for a short time like 20 seconds followed by low-intensity work like walking for 60 seconds. You then repeat these intervals for 10-20 minutes typically. You can learn more in our article on why you should use HIIT Training.
There are a lot of studies out there that back up the fact that sprints are a much better option than regular long and boring cardio. This study showed that doing just 10 minutes if HIIT training burned as much fat as doing 50 minutes of traditional steady-state cardio. It is also worth noting that during the 10 minute HIIT session the participants of the study only did 3 sets of sprints for 20 seconds then had 2 minutes between sets of an easy pace. There was also a 2-minute warm-up and 3-minute cooldown.
That is what I call getting some serious bang for your buck. Just imagine the fat you could burn in a 15-20 minute HIIT sprint session.
Here are some great HIIT sprint workouts for you to try that will blast the fat off.
Related: Best Fat Burners on the Market
#2 Build Hamstrings and Glutes
Sprints are a great workout for the glutes, hamstrings and even the quads. At the beginning of the sprint, you use a lot of glute strength in the drive required to get yourself up to speed. Once you are at full speed most of the work moves to the hamstrings and the quads.
This is one unappreciated muscle builder that many lifters overlook or don’t feel like doing, it is also one that can spark new gains especially if your body isn’t accustomed to doing it.
Also, if you haven’t noticed, both genders of sprinters usually have nice butts.
#3 Sprints Enhance Your Speed
I must admit, this one is a bit on the obvious side but it should be stated. The more sprinting work you do the faster you will be.
This goes with basically anything in life, if you want to get better at it you need to practice. Just like if you want to get stronger you need to lift weights, if you want to get faster you need to be doing sprints.
You also never know when you may need the speed. Whether it is a zombie apocalypse, and angry grizzly bear or your neighbor’s crazy pitbull you will need the speed to outrun them. If not, at least you will be able to outrun whoever else is with you.
#4 Potentiate the CNS
I know what you are thinking, “what the heck does potentiate the CNS mean?”. To keep it simple it means that after sprinting your central nervous system is fired up and ready for new gains. I know it seems like you should do your sprints after your lifting but research has found that if you do the sprinting before you lift it can spark new muscle gains through this post-activation potentiation. According to the study, this potentiation “can potentially maximize performance of explosive based activities such as weightlifting, sprinting, jumping and throwing activities”,
It’s all pretty technical and a bit nerdy but to put it, in a nutshell, sprinting before lifting is optimal for improving performance in athletes and potentiating the nervous system for heavy lifts and explosive training. Start your training session off with sprints to hack your nervous system and improve strength and muscle performance.
#5 Better Endurance
The act of doing sprints can give you better endurance, not only when it comes to sprinting endurance but also when it comes to running longer distances.
In this study by MacPherson and others about sprint interval training they found that sprinting improves aerobic performance. In the conclusion of the study, they write “Despite a fraction of the time commitment, run SIT induces similar body composition, VO(2max), and performance adaptations as ET, but with no effect on Q(max)”.
This means that by doing sprint training you are also increasing your aerobic conditioning without actually doing the act of aerobic conditioning. You are essentially killing 2 birds with one stone. Nothing not to like about that.
#6 Increased Power
As we discussed in our article on exercises the build explosive power. We talked about how doing sprints increases your power.
The act of sprinting in itself is a power exercise. Particularly when you explode off the line at the start of the sprint, which requires large amounts of power. The more the better.
Many people confuse power and strength thinking they are the same thing but that is incorrect. Strength is how much you weight you can lift or move while power is how fast you can move that weight. So essentially power is strength plus speed. Both strength and speed are required for sprinting especially at the start.
#7 Improves Glucose and Insulin Control
This study in 2009 was a real eye-opener into the effects that sprints can have on glucose and insulin in the body. In this study, they determined that doing interval sprints is “sufficient to achieve significant improvements in glycemic control”. They also determined sprints can be used to reduce metabolic risk factors in young and middle-aged adults.
Another study published on January 28, 2009, in BMC Endocrine Disorders showed sprints were more effective at keeping blood sugar at an even keel and lowered the risk of diabetes compared to steady-state cardio. Yet another great reason to ditch the steady-state cardio and move to sprints.
#8 Improved Mental Function and Toughness
Let’s face it, sprints aren’t easy. They can be a challenge to you both mentally and physically. Pushing yourself you go as far as you can for as fast as you can challenge your mental fortitude. Push yourself farther than you thought possible when doing sprints and you will be able to push yourself further in other facets of life as well.
Not only that but sprints release a ton of endorphins which are the feel-good chemicals that give you that natural high. You will feel like you are on top of the world. As the saying goes, exercise is the best and most underused anti-depressant. Get out there and do some sprints and get happy, naturally.
Wrapping it up
If you didn’t know by now sprints are great for your body overall. They blast off fat, build a great butt, potentiate the nervous system to new gains, improve endurance and more. I know sprints aren’t always the most pleasurable form of exercise but they are ultra-effective. If you are able to be doing them you will reap the benefits, now get out there and do some sprints, you will be glad you did.