Summer is well and truly on the way, and that means the sidewalks and streets are once again home to the runners and cyclists, clocking up their km's and posting their Strava updates. Curiously, it's rare to spot a sprinter in the wild, with parks still the domain of the local boot camp operator.
Sprinting is one of the most effective forms of exercise we can do, however going for a "run" still seems to imply an hour long, steady pace jog for most of us. We talked to Dr Lewis Ehrlich, dentist, personal trainer, and former professional soccer player, about the benefits of sprinting, and why it's his workout of choice.
1. You can shed fat fast
Sweating it out over long distances is a great way to lose body mass, however working at a lower intensity over longer distances doesn't target the fat reserves as effectively as sprinting. "Essentially sprinters get the benefit of fat loss, rather than water loss" explains Lewis.
2. You can increase your power and speed
By training explosively over short distances, you are engaging your fast twitch muscle fibres. These are the fibres specific to strong short movements. Through the activation of these fibres, sprinters experience faster muscle building and huge improvements in your running and cycling speed.
3. You can strengthen your heart
When you sprint, your heart rate is a lot higher than over long distance, albeit for shorter amounts of time. As with any muscle, working under this pressure strengthens the heart, and improving it's efficiency and lowering your blood pressure.
4. You can improve your endurance
Sprinting has been shown to help with long-distance running. "Working at maximum capacity will build your oxygen uptake and increase the time it takes for fatigue to set in" says Lewis. Your new strength and power gains will also allow you to propel yourself further with each stride in a long-distance run.
5. It saves time
Time is money and one of the greatest identified barriers to exercise is the lack of time. For those that are time poor, sprinting can cut your workout time in half. You're elevating your work rate, and shortening your work out time. Efficiency at it's best
6. It builds mental strength
"I can’t remember a sprinting session when I didn’t want to quit" says Lewis, also a former professional soccer player (he knows something about pain). Pushing through training thresholds requires mental strength and toughness that can be applied beyond the track.
7. You can sprint almost anywhere, for free
When you're sprinting, the world is your gym. Hit the beach, the park, an empty street, some stairs... all you need is 100m of space. It doesn't matter where, just get moving, and move fast!
Related: How Running Makes You High