Sprinting: The Ultimate Primal Workout
Sprinting is one of the 10 Primal Blueprint Laws and is the quintessential anti-aging activity. Even a very brief sprint session has a profound effect on your metabolic and hormonal function. Sprinting is an essential fitness objective for everyone, but you must learn how to do it correctly. Part 1 of this two-part Definitive Guide details how and why sprinting is beneficial to your general health, fat loss and fitness performance at all lower intensities. Part 2 details the step-by-step process to conduct an effective sprint workout.
Some people avoid sprinting because they think it's only for elite athletes. While running sprints require high fitness competency, sprinting can also be performed in no- or low-impact activities such as stationary bike, rowing machine, or swimming. The secret is accelerated level of genetic signaling, hormone optimization and central nervous system programming that happens when you sprint. Sprinting skyrockets growth hormone levels quickly and reliably and boosts protein synthesis (muscle building or toning) by 230 percent. It might be hard to imagine how only a couple minutes of all-out effort once a week can make a huge impact on your fat reduction goals.
When you conduct an all-out sprint, you're asking your body to perform at a level of metabolic function some 30 times greater than your resting output. If you are stuck in the flawed and dated calories in-calories out fitness mindset, it might be hard to imagine how a brief workout that you only conduct a few times per month can have a measurable impact on your fat loss and fitness progress. The science strongly supports my quip that nothing cuts you up like sprinting. Sprinting is a high-stress endeavor that should be done infrequently, with an extremely careful and deliberate protocol every time. The Primal Blueprint Law is titled, "Sprint Once In A While" because this aligns with our ancestral experience and our genetic expectations for health.
Next, establish a movement and exercise routine that will prepare your body sufficiently for the rigors of sprinting. You should only sprint for short duration, complete minimal reps, and take extensive rest periods between your sprint efforts. This ensures you enjoy maximum hormonal and fitness benefits with minimal cellular breakdown and risk of exhaustion. Dr. Craig Marker's article details why the ideal duration for your sprints is between 10 and 20 seconds. When you keep pushing beyond 10 seconds, your body commences the cellular processes of disassembling and deamination in order to supply more ATP for maximum energy output. Sprints: Determining Optimal Reps, Duration, and Recovery
If you have a sprint workout planned for Tuesday and come up with stiff muscles or a scratchy throat, you must junk your best laid plans until you feel fantastically energized and excited at rest.
It's simply not worth it to try and sprint for longer than 10-20 seconds. Stay on the low end (10 seconds) if you're a novice sprinter or have high percentage fast-twitch muscle fibers. There's no reason to ever sprint longer than 20 seconds unless you're trying to break Wayde Van Niekerk's world record. The other thing you want to guard against is cumulative fatigue during a sprint workout. If your first sprint of 50 yards across half a football field takes 10 seconds and feels like an 85 on a 1-100 effort scale, you want your final sprint to be of similar time and similar effort.
Once performance declines or more effort is required to sustained performance, your sprint workout is over. I contend, along with Dr. Marker and many other experts, that 4-10 sprints are all you ever need to perform.