Remember sprinting? That thing we used to do as kids in the playground for hours on end? Sprinting is one of, if not the best forms of conditioning around. All you need is some open space and some decent trainers. It’s raw, it’s primal, and your heart will beat like there’s no tomorrow. Unfortunately, not many people do it anymore.
Go to any commercial gym in the country and look around – there will be dozens of people jogging slowly on treadmills, ‘cross-trainers’, and ‘stair-steppers’ (or whatever the fudge they’re called). Now look at them again – how many of these people are actually in shape? Probably around 4% of them, at best. I guarantee that in a years time, most of these people will still look the same, and if they do lose the weight, it’ll be back with a vengeance within a couple of months. Don’t be one of those guys..
I’ve personally always found traditional ‘cardio’ to be mind-numbingly boring and would rather watch paint dry (or reality tv). I’ve probably gone out jogging a couple of times before, but other than that pretty much all of my conditioning work is short, brief, and intense. Quite frankly, people who do excessive long, slow cardio tend to look pale, sickly and malnourished. I’ll pass. What they need to do is start lifting some weights and eating some steaks.
The fact is, sprinting is HARD. After 10 seconds of an all-out sprint, you will hate your life. You will want to go back to the treadmill – but that’s cool – it’s just the weakness leaving your body. Once you see how sprinting makes you lean and mean, you will never want to go back to being a cardio bunny like the rest of the brainwashed gym population.
I like bullet points. So here you go, here are some bullet points.
1) Sprinting will rip you up like nothing else – 2/3 good sprint sessions per week will give you a shredded, rock solid midesection. Your glutes and hamstrings will get a good workout from sprinting too, ‘toning’ and building muscle.
2) Sprinting will increase testosterone and growth hormone (keeping you young). Which means you will look better naked.
3) You will become more athletic, more powerful, and your conditioning will go through the roof. For example, say you’re a footballer – you will have the power in your engine to make that all important lung-busting run into the box come the 90th minute – think Steven Gerrard in his prime.
4) You will preserve and potentially even build more muscle. Slow, long distance work interferes with strength training, robs you of the energy needed to strength train, beats up your joints, increases cortisol, and decreases testosterone. Just don’t (unless you’re an athlete in a sport that requires a lot of endurance work).
5) Sprint sessions are short – no need for 1 hour sessions on the treadmill. You can have an incredibly intense conditioning session in 10 minutes or under.
6) If you sprint you won’t look like this.
‘How can I sprint in this crap weather?’ you might ask. It’s a good question, and sprinting probably isn’t feasible during the rainy season. I have a park where I usually sprint, but of course it’s pretty much impossible to sprint when the grass is muddy and you’re gonna slip all over the place. However, when the sun is shining, going outside for a set of hill sprints (even better than normal sprinting) is invigorating.
In the winter, to compensate for the bad weather I will often do other forms of conditioning. My two favourites are jumping rope and hitting the heavy bag. You don’t have to be able to skip like Floyd Mayweather or hit the bag like Iron Mike, just get the work in.
I tend to vary my sprint intervals, usually between 6-15 seconds with a rest period of about 45-60 seconds, and I repeat this as many times as I want to. You can play around with these timings if you want, just make ensure that you’re working HARD during these intervals. Rest completely during the break, then go again.
For sprinting, I highly recommend the Gymboss, which is a fantastic and lightweight timer you can clip to your waist while on the move. There are different ways to go about sprinting – you can merely choose the distance between two points and run like hell, or you can choose a certain amount of time and again, run like hell. Both are equally valid.
If you’re sprinting and like to go by timed work intervals, the Gymboss is a must – you don’t want to keep your 5kg phone in your pocket while running.
Otherwise, you can just download an app on your phone to use for timing intervals.
If you haven’t sprinted in a while, start SLOWLY – this is very important! Don’t run full pelt, and only do 1 or 2 work sets. Build up from there at every session. Make sure you warm up thorughly beforehand, or you’ll pull a muscle for sure.
All in all, don’t complicate things, just get out there and RUN! You won’t regret it.