Oh...the good old sprint! Most have a love/hate relationship with the word sprint, especially if they played a sport in high school or college “get on the line!”
But when done correctly, whether you are looking to perform or just look good and more “toned”, the sprint is a great tool to build power, speed, and overall strength by incorporating different muscles and different energy systems.
Before we get into how, let us explain what we mean by when we say “done correctly”. To keep it simple, sprints can be "done correctly" by basically giving yourself the correct work-to-rest ratios between your runs to make them a sprint!
For instance, if are running 400m “sprints” and leaving yourself only 0:30 rest between sets, it is actually becoming more of a conditioning and aerobic workout than it is a sprint or anaerobic workout. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Conditioning workouts rule!
But if you’re goal is to build power, speed or strength from just a running workout, your body needs much more rest in between your sprints in order to do so!
Instead, maybe try a 200m sprint, and leave 2:00 - 3:00 rest between efforts or until you are fully recovered, then go again! But remember...to really build that power and speed, that 200m should be virtually an all out effort in order to EARN that 2:00-3:00 rest.
Giving your body and muscles ample rest time is what will allow you to continue to go harder during each interval, which will, in return, incorporate the different muscle groups, anaerobic energy system, and help build strength and power in a more running-style workout.
Getting ample rest time works the same in the gym as well. For example, have you ever challenged yourself with heavier weights or high box jumps, rested a little bit, and but then couldn't hit the same rep scheme or height again? More than likely, it is because you needed a bit more rest to allow your body to go all out on that effort.
Now, sprint workouts don't have to be everyday of course. On the contrary actually. Mixing up aerobic and anaerobic workouts rather than just one all of the time, is one of the best ways to become an all-around athlete. So whether you are looking to perform, or just look good and feel good, try adding sprints to your workout regimen, even just 1x week, to enhance your fitness or, at the least, mix up your routine.
And the best part about it...no equipment required. You can head to the track, to a field....or even to the beach if you are on vacation!
Regardless of where you put in the work though, just get after it, earn that rest, and the results will come.