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5 Best Sprinting Workouts to Build Muscle
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5 Best Sprinting Workouts to Build Muscle

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 19
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9 min

Sprinting is a form of HIIT exercise that is gaining in popularity due to its effectiveness to quickly burn fat and build muscle.

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Sprinting workouts are a form of high-intensity interval training that uses quick bursts of maximum effort sprint and long rest breaks in between to give you an effective full-body workout in less than 30 minutes. 

Aside from being great for anyone working out on a time crunch, there are a ton of other benefits that are attracting more and more people to this style of training. 

Below, we’ve provided some exercise examples to help you get started, as well as all the reasons why you should. 

What Is Considered a Sprinting Workout/Training?

Sprint training is anything that involves sprinting – or running at around 9 or 10/10 on a scale of difficulty – followed by a cool-down exercise that allows your heart rate to return to normal, rinse and repeat.

When sprinting, you should aim for your heart rate to be somewhere between 75–90% of your maximum heart rate. If you’re not sure what your maximum heart rate is, you can get a rough calculation by subtracting your age from the number 220.

For example, if you are 26 years old and want to run at 80% of your maximum heart rate, the calculation to figure out your desired BPM would be: 220 – 26 = 194 x 0.80 = 155.2 BPM.

There are a variety of different sprint training workouts you can do, including hill repeats and different kinds of interval training.

How Many Calories Does Sprinting Burn?

Sprinting for even 2.5 minutes can help you burn as many as 200 calories

Doing interval training will not only help you burn through calories in the form of glycogen but will even help you target stubborn belly fat since doing a HIIT workout improves insulin sensitivity.

When you have poor insulin sensitivity, your pancreas creates more insulin to lower blood sugar levels. And while this increase in insulin might work for breaking down sugars, increased insulin actually leads your body to store more fat, leading to weight gain. 

This means that even if you don’t have time for a long workout, spending even 30 minutes doing interval training can help you burn a high amount of calories – mostly in the form of fat – and start to shed pounds.

Figuring out exactly how to plan your sprint workouts can often be the hardest part of starting a sprinting routine and therefore experiencing all of the calorie-burning benefits. Making use of running apps like Joggo can make all the difference when it comes to getting a personalized exercise plan that works for you and helps you see results. 

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5 Best Sprinting Workouts/Drills

Looking to start adding sprint workouts into your running routine? Doing so can help you improve your cardiovascular fitness, running economy, improve your lean muscle mass, and more. 

Whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced runner, these are some of the best sprint workouts to help you reap all the benefits of this training style.

#1 Cone drill

There are plenty of different kinds of cone drills you can include in a sprint workout. They involve laying out cones in different formations to give yourself a specific amount of space required to sprint through. These workouts also often include some sharp turns, which can help you become more agile.

This agility aspect makes cone drills especially helpful for anyone wanting to play sports like soccer or football, as they will not only help you build muscle but also help you be lighter on your feet, so you are able to make sharp turns more quickly.

#2 Hill sprint repeats 

Doing a hill sprint repeat is actually quite simple, but it’s definitely not easy. These sprint workouts involve sprinting uphill and then using the walk back down the hill as an opportunity to recover.

Hill sprints are a great addition to anyone’s sprint training routine but are especially helpful for anyone from a strength training background. This is because running uphill can keep you from running faster than your larger muscle mass allows, effectively preventing you from getting injured during your workout.

Another added bonus of hill sprints is the fact that the level of difficulty involved in running uphill repeatedly will quickly condition the muscles and cardiovascular system to become stronger, and the mental strength required to complete hill sprint workouts will also condition your mind.

#3 Gassers 

Gassers are a kind of speed training exercise that is most often performed by football players in order to improve their conditioning.

Although there are different lengths and types of gassers, the most popular kind involves sprinting from one sideline of a football field to the other 4 times without a break.

This is debatably one of the toughest kinds of sprint workouts you can do since you have to cover so much distance. Adding this to your sprint training schedule will definitely help you notice improvements in your mile time and will put you on the fast track to improving your strength and conditioning.

#4 Interval sprint

Also known as high-intensity interval training or HIIT, this sprint workout involves running as fast as you can, at a 9 or 10/10 on a scale of difficulty, until you’ve completely burned all of your energy – for a maximum of 60 seconds. Then, either walking or lightly jogging to recover, taking upwards of 5 minutes for your heart rate to return to a more normal range.

HIIT training has recently grown in popularity due to the amazing effects it can have on weight loss since it targets fat as a source of fuel instead of only carbohydrates.

Since sprint intervals are such a high-intensity workout, they effectively increase your aerobic endurance, which basically means you will be able to do moderate-intensity workouts for longer without needing to take a break. 

#5 Base sprinting (100m, 200m, and 400m)

These kinds of runs are usually best for people who are training to do specific sprint lengths in races. Someone who is used to running 100 meters would then regularly run 200 meters during their training sessions in order to improve their conditioning for a shorter race.

Doing sprinting workouts that are longer than what you usually run in your races allows you to keep your top speed going for longer and can even help you maintain proper sprinting form when you start feeling tired.

5 Benefits of Sprinting Workouts

Doing a sprint workout has many of the same benefits as longer running workouts, such as tempo runs, but there are running benefits unique to sprint intervals that keep even the best athletes coming back for more. 

Following a regular sprinting routine will do wonders for your conditioning and set you up for better performance in running distances of varying lengths, from short sprints all the way through to full marathons. 

#1 Improves lactate threshold

Your lactate threshold is basically the point at which your body starts producing a high amount of lactic acid in response to doing physical activity.

Lactic acid is what your body releases when you switch from aerobic exercise to anaerobic exercise since it is the byproduct of making ATP for your muscles when there is no oxygen present. 

Lactate in the muscles causes them to cramp and feel fatigued. While it might be annoying to feel yourself slowing down during your workouts, producing lactate is actually the body’s way of making sure you don’t overexert yourself.

By improving your lactate threshold, you increase the amount and intensity of the physical activity you are able to endure without making the switch to anaerobic. This means that over time, you will be able to train even harder and longer than before. 

#2 Fast muscle growth

Doing sprint workouts is a great way to increase the size and strength of the muscles in the entire body, including the legs, core, and even the upper body. 

One of the ways it does this is by enhancing the protein synthesis process, which helps your body break down protein cells into smaller amino acids and improve how easily they can be absorbed by the cell. This process is essential to your muscle building every time you work out.

Another thing to note is that the muscles you get from sprinting will be bigger and bulkier than those you would see on a marathon runner. This is because sprinting promotes the growth of fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are larger muscle cells better suited for explosive movements. 

#3 Good for cardiovascular health

Although any kind of running workout will have a positive effect on cardiovascular health, these effects can be seen in almost half the time doing sprint workouts vs. consistent endurance training, according to a study

This is partly due to the amount of effort that running at such a high intensity requires of your heart, making it beat faster than it would during an aerobic workout. This can have a strengthening effect on the heart.

The increase in blood pressure and blood circulation while exercising can also flush out any plaque gathering on the arterial walls. This plaque is responsible for a narrowing of the arterial walls and, when dislodged, can result in a heart attack, which is the leading cause of death around the world.

The good news is that you don’t have to be an elite runner to experience these benefits, either. Even doing a beginner sprint workout a few times a week will greatly improve your cardiovascular fitness and keep you healthy for years to come.

#4 Can improve mile time

Contrary to what you might believe, one of the best ways to improve your mile time is by taking a break from running miles and penciling in a sprint workout instead. 

Many of the tips mentioned in this article, including improved lactate threshold, better endurance thanks to improved cardiovascular health, and more fast-twitch muscle fibers, can all boost your performance, even when trying to improve your mile time for something like a 5K.

Not only that but switching up your running routine is a great way to keep your workouts fun and can often be a crucial component in keeping you consistent. 

#5 Finish in 30 minutes

Aside from the numerous health benefits of sprint workouts, another big bonus is the amount of time it takes to complete them.

Since these workouts require running at maximum effort, you aren’t able to do them long before completely fatiguing the body. Generally, the high-intensity running intervals last for less than 30 seconds and can’t be repeated more than 5 or 6 times.

Because of this, you’re able to complete a full workout in less than 30 minutes without having to make any sacrifices to the quality of your workout or the benefits you get from doing it. 

A Word From Our Coach

You could be looking to get back into shape after taking some time off, or maybe you need to find a new way to condense workouts so you’re able to fit exercise back into your busy schedule.

Either way, sprinting workouts could be exactly what you’re looking for.

The fact that sprinting is a high-intensity workout is what makes it so chock-full of benefits, but it also makes it harder to complete, especially if you’re not used to vigorous exercise.

In the beginning, make sure to take enough rest days to allow your body to fully recover, and eat a diet full of healthy fats, carbohydrates, and protein to give you the energy you need to get the most out of your new routine. 

Bottom Line

Whether you choose to improve your agility with cone drills or focus on increasing your conditioning by doing hill repeats, you’ll finish your 30-minute workout knowing that 30 minutes was all you needed to effectively work your entire body.

Continue this training regime, and you’ll watch the fat melt off with ease while all your muscles increase in size and strength, helping you to reach a new personal best in whatever length of run you choose.

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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