A study conducted by Colorado State University in 2012 gave subjects a maintenance diet for three days.
On one of the days they did 2.5 minutes of sprints.
Using the latest technology (oxygen analyzers, etc.) it was determined the subjects burned an extra 200 calories on the day they did the sprints.
Now, full disclosure – the workout …
“involved pedaling as fast as possible on a stationary bicycle in the room that was set at a high resistance for five 30-second periods, each separated by four-minute periods of recovery in which they pedaled slowly with very little resistance. During the intense, 30-second bouts, the researchers coached the volunteers over an intercom system, encouraging them to give 100 percent effort.”
So it was actually a 22.5 minute workout, although they were only “working” for 2.5 minutes.
Even so, that’s pretty good stuff!
Have you ever seen a fat sprinter? Me neither.
We see fat marathon runners all the time, though.
They are not overweight by any means, but they are skinny fat in that their body composition isn’t good.
They may be skinny, but too much of the weight they do have is fat, not muscle.
Sure, they don’t look fat when you glance at them.
But too much of the (little) weight they carry is fat, not muscle.
While their overall weight may be okay, the body composition of that weight isn’t always what it should be. They burn too much muscle with all that long distance running.
But not sprinters. If you want to lose fat at a record pace and keep your lean muscle and your metabolism revving, sprint workouts are the way to go for getting lean, ripped abs.
You also have to be careful. Sprinting all out on a flat surface can be a great way to injure yourself, especially if you don’t warm up properly.
One way to limit the risk of injury (and it can be a more intense, more effective workout, too) is to perform your sprints uphill, instead of on a flat surface.
If you don’t have a hill around that’s convenient, a flat place to sprint (on a track, or a field, not the hard cement or concrete of a road or sidewalk) will do just fine.
You’ll also want to limit your sprint efforts to 85 – 90% of your all out effort. It will be enough.
Before a sprint workout, hit a light jog for a few minutes (if you’re sprinting on a field like a soccer or football field, you can jog a couple of laps around the outside) or perform a couple of minutes of jump rope.
Then it’s a few bodyweight exercises like jumping jacks, bodyweight squats, leg swings, etc.
All this doesn’t need to be long or intense but you want to prepare your body for sprinting.
The sprinting workout begins with three or four (progressively harder) sprints of about 30 to 40 yards. These are warm ups. You shouldn’t be bent over hands on your knees exhausted!
Then it’s time for the real thing.
“Interval training stresses energy systems in the body that aren’t accustomed to being used,” says Jeramie Hinojosa, M.S., director of the East Texas Medical Center Olympic Center, in Tyler, Texas.
“Blood supply to cells increases, the cells use oxygen more efficiently, and the enzymes that help create energy also increase. This improves fitness.”
Keep in mind, serious sprint workouts are similar to intense weight training sessions for the legs, so your body needs time to recover. If you start doing multiple sprinting sessions per week, cut back on your leg workouts with weights accordingly.
There are numerous ways to perform not only sprinting sessions, but interval training in general, from work to rest ratio, length of work and rest intervals, number of interval sets, exercises involved, etc.
Besides the variety, you can also build on your sprint workouts as you improve your overall fitness level. Starting out, you might only be able to perform 2 or 3 sprints of 20 yards before calling it quits.
But your fitness levels will quickly improve and before you know it, you’ll be doing more sprints of longer length (not necessarily for a longer time as your speed will improve as well).
Even so, don’t let these training sessions expand into long, volume oriented workouts. When it comes to HIIT training, a little bit goes a long way.
If you aren’t ready for high intensity interval training, here’s a sample progression for you:
Alternate jogging with walking
Alternate running with jogging
Alternate sprints with walking
Alternate sprints uphill with walking down the hill (and extra rest if needed)
If you don’t have access to a hill, you can still adjust the parameters like I mentioned above. Maybe you start out with 3 to 4 sprints of 20 yards.
First you add intervals until you are doing 10 sprints of 20 yards and then you drop back the number of sprint intervals to 4 or 5 and sprint for 30 yards.
Eventually, you may be doing ten 60 yard sprints for your workouts. Yes, it’s the same type of progression ladder you’d use to increase your weights in your weight training routines.
During your sprint workouts, you don’t need to go all out. Try sprinting around 85 – 90% of a maximum effort.
If you’re serious about burning fat and getting ripped abs and want to quickly see results, consider adding HIIT training in the form of sprinting to your program.