A great way to build well defined muscles is through sprint training. The reason why sprinting is great for building muscles is because the body is being worked through high intensity resistance workloads. The greater the intensity the more power is gnerated from the muscle, thus causing more muscle fibers (Type II) to be recruited to help support the workload. This anaerobic process produces a morphological affect to the muscles.
Sprint training also helps promote fat loss. High intensity training increases the thermogenic effect of the muscle tissue. To get the muscle back to its homeostatic temperature (baseline) the muscle eventually cools down through a series of metabolic reactions that involve the metabolizing of fatty acids. This process is known as the residual after effect. The residual after effect can last between 2-10 hours, depending on how much intensity and muscle tissue breakdown occurred during the exercise bout. The bottom line is the longer the residual after effect is the more fat you can burn. Sprint training is a great way to burn off fat, even more so than aerobic exercises, such as running, swimming, cycling.
Sprint training is used by sprinters to develop speed (ATP-CP) system and muscular strength. Here, repeated sprints at maximal speed are performed. About 6 seconds are required to accelerate to maximum speed from a static start. Therefore, the sprinter should run at least 60 yards on each sprint to experience moving at top speed. Also, because each sprint should be performed at top speed, recovery between repetitions must be relatively complete. Longer recovery interval are thus utilized.
Here is a brief overview of different methods of sprint training.
Is a method of training whereby an athlete alternately sprints 50 yards and jobs 60 yards for distances up to 3 miles. For example, over 440 yards, the sprinter would perform four 50-yard sprints, jogging 60 yards after each; repeat 12 times. Because of fatigue setting in after the first few sprints, the athlete will not be able to run subsequent sprints at top speed. This factor, plus the relativley long distances covered per training session (up to 3 miles), makes this type of training system suitable for the development of the aerobic system.
As the name implies, acceleration sprints involve a gradual increase in running speed from jogging to striding and finally to sprinting. The jogging, striding, and sprinting intervals may consist of 50- 110, or 120 yard segments. In eacch case, recovery should consist of walking. For example, a sprinter may jog 50 yards, stride 50 yards, walk 50 yards, and then repeat. Because recovery between repetitions is nearly complete, this type of training develops speed and strength. Also, it is a good method to use in cold weather, because the runs are graduated from easy to hard, thus lessening the chances of muscular injury.
Hollow sprints involve the use of two sprints interrupted by a hollow period of either jogging or walking. These sprints are performed in repeats; one repetition might include sprinting 60 yards, jogging 60 yards, then walking 60 yards. Similar intervals might include distances up to but not beyond 220 yards.
Overall, sprint training is an extremely useful method for conditioning the anaerobic systems of the body and fat burning. I recommend that sprint training be incorporated into your weekly schedule at least once or twice a week to achieve maximum benefit.
Daryl Conant, M.Ed.