The Benefits of Sprinting and How to Get Started
When it comes to fitness, the benefits of sprinting are often overlooked. This is not surprising, as plenty of attention in recent years has been given to 5 and 10K races, marathon running, or other forms of long-distance exercise, including activities such as cycling or swimming laps.
The Benefits of Sprinting And What You Need to Know
1. Sprinting Supports Cardiovascular Health
Sprinting can have many advantages as a form of exercise – for people of all ages. And especially for men.
With sprinting, your heart rate increases to meet the demand for increased blood flow to the muscles of your body. Sprinting also brings your heart rate near its maximum speed. As a result, your overall cardiovascular fitness and efficiency improve… giving you greater endurance for everyday life or exercise.
When you sprint, you also use and build up what is known as fast-twitch muscle fibers, which act to strengthen your heart, increase its function, and provide you with better circulation as a whole.
This may lead to lower blood pressure and a reduced chance of getting heart disease.
With this benefit, you can see how slow, long-distance running is not necessary to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
2. Sprinting Increases Muscle Strength
Because sprinting is an anaerobic exercise, it builds muscle in much the same way that weight training does. Except, with sprinting, many more body muscles are activated, instead of just those in an isolated muscle group as takes place with weight training.
Sprinting also activates the fast-twitch (or type 2 muscle fibers) throughout the body, which leads to the building up of muscles that cannot be accomplished by aerobic exercise.
An additional advantage of sprint training is that it can naturally increase human growth hormone (HGH) production in the body. In some cases, the increase can be up to ten times the average amount!
This is especially advantageous for men. Because as men age, they experience reduced testosterone and muscle tissue levels, but the increase of HGH can help build these levels up and help a man maintain his strength as he gets older. HGH's proliferation can also play a significant role in weight loss and slow down the aging process as it promotes tissue building in the body.
3. Sprinting Saves Time
Another benefit of sprinting is that it's an extremely efficient form of exercise.
As mentioned, sprinting activates many muscles at once. And, because of the heavy demands it places on the body in a short period, it can be a great way to save a lot of time typically dedicated to exercise. In other words, since sprinting is a high-intensity type of exercise, your workouts are shorter. In fact, a typical sprinting program only requires about 20 minutes a couple of times a week.
There is a lot of flexibility with sprint training too. You can do it almost anywhere. And, you can even do it with forms of exercise other than running, in that you can make sprints while you bike or swim. You can even sprint indoors on a treadmill or elliptical machine.
Thanks to this time savings and flexibility, those who sprint are often more inclined to stick with their exercise program and reap long-term benefits as a result… which is another reason sprinting is appealing.
4. Getting Started with Sprinting
Although sprint training is a simple activity – requiring no specialized equipment — there are some precautionary measures to consider as you start.
For one, as with any strenuous exercise, it's a good idea to get a doctor's clearance before you begin, mainly if it's been a while since you've exercised regularly. This is important as sprinting places great demands on the body.
Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, especially in hot weather. Any kind of anaerobic training calls for a lot of exertion and increases your body temperature quickly, so keeping yourself hydrated just makes good sense. Drinking an ample amount of water will also assure that you get the maximum amount of exercise-induced HGH.
Take time to prepare yourself by stretching before you sprint. You'll be tempted to ignore this, but a simple stretching routine of about 10 minutes or so is essential to help prevent injuries.
Start and stop slowly. Your hamstrings, calves, and Achilles tendons will
be vulnerable if you make explosive starts and abrupt stops. Protect them by taking it easy as you begin and finish each sprint.
Gradually increase your speed from a jog to a sprint with each repetition. And keep in mind… it's not necessary to go full speed with any of your sprints to benefit.
After a set of eight sprints, cool down your body with a walk or easy jog.
Are You Ready for Sprinting?
You may be hesitant to try sprinting as you think, “I haven't run a sprint since high school!” But don't let that stop you.
Even older people can run sprints. They may need to go a little slower, but the benefits are still there to be had.
And if you have other concerns, just make sure you've taken into account the precautions above and have gotten a medical checkup when it's warranted.
Sprinting can be just the right choice for those seeking a form of exercise that's efficient and gets results. So don't be quick to dismiss it for yourself.
What other exercises do you do instead of sprinting? Share your experiences in the comment section below.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 27, 2020, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
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