“I am not afraid. I was born to do this.” –Unknown
Were you born to run?
Regardless of your answer, you WERE born to move with force, to endure pain when the room is empty, and find out what your real limits are. You WERE born to have a lean, muscular body that is a pleasure to look at.
Sprint training will help you achieve these outcomes, improve your athletic performance, and it’s been shown to be a “shortcut” to optimal health if you’re willing to put in the effort. This article will provide three superb interval models to guide your training for the best body and life.
#1: The All-Purpose Athlete: The Best Sprint Program To Build Muscle & Lose Fat
Research done on elite soccer and handball athletes shows how a short but intense sprint interval program can produce a significant anabolic hormone response to build muscle and lose fat. This study compared the effect of doing four all-out sprints in increasing distance order (100, 200, 300, 400 meters) or the reverse order. Rest intervals were 4 minutes following the 400, 3 minutes following the 300, and 2 minutes following the 200, and 1 minute after the 100.
Results showed that the decreasing order (400, 300, 200, 100) produced the following superior results and the athletes rated the workout as easier:
• Greater increase in growth hormone (GH) and blood lactate, indicating this protocol was more metabolically taxing and could lead to more fat loss over time.
• A significant testosterone response, suggesting the protocol was effective for muscle building and creating an anabolic environment.
• A greater insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) response—a hormone that further enhances muscle adaptations—which is important because a previous study using longer intervals of 250 meters, but lower intensity didn’t elevate IGF-1.
• Greater stimulation of the GH-IGF-1 axis, highlighting that more time spent training anaerobically will produce a greater metabolic effect and more body fat loss.
This type of training is ideal for the conditioned trainee, but it’s vital to have other interval protocols to choose from. This next model applies to the recreational athlete who might not be as well conditioned, but still wants to get lean while maintaining muscle.
Researchers from Canada compared the effect of a 3-day-a-week, 6-week interval running program with an endurance protocol on body composition and time trail performance in young trainees. The interval protocol was six 30-second all-out sprints with 4 minutes rest. The endurance protocol was 30 to 60 minutes of running at 65 percent of maximal.
Results showed the following better results from the sprint program:
• The sprint group lost an impressive 12.4 percent body fat and 2 kg of fat mass. The endurance group lost 5.8 percent body fat and about half a kilo of fat. Both groups increased muscle mass by a small 1 percent.
• The sprint group spent a total of .75 of an hour actually sprinting compared to the endurance group that spent a whopping 13.5 hours running.
• Both groups improved by 5 percent on a 2,000-meter time trial.
Here you see that you can lose more fat and maintain muscle in MUCH less training time by doing sprints. You will improve conditioning, get faster, and be able to sustain a higher work rate for longer, as seen by the better performance on the middle-distance time trial.