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Fire up your summer sessions with sprint intervals

Looking for an effective outdoor workout to fire up your summer sessions? Try sprinting!

It is one of the most effective forms of exercise because it has the potential to help build muscle, burn fat, boost your metabolism, and strengthen your body, from ligaments and tendons to bone and muscle.

Chase the EIGR

Science tells us that 30-second intervals are the most beneficial for improving body composition – adding lean muscle and burning fat and calories. This is attributed to the exercise-induced growth hormone response (EIGR).

Research published in the June 2002 Journal of Sports Sciences shows that a 30-second sprint has the potential to naturally boost growth hormone (hGH) production by 530% over resting baseline values and 450% over shorter duration sprints of up to six seconds.

According to the study, “serum hGH levels remained elevated for 90-120 minutes after the 30s sprint, compared to just 60 minutes after the 6s sprint.”

The growth factor

This is highly beneficial for both men and women because hGH promotes muscle, bone and collagen production and can significantly boost metabolic function, including fat metabolism.

And the beauty of a track workout, in addition to its simplicity and effectiveness, is that it is time-efficient.

You can get an effective workout in just 30 minutes, including your warm-up to cool down. All you really need is a suitable pair of running shoes.

This makes sprinting the ideal replacement to those lengthy steady-state cardio sessions. And sprinting is more effective!

A 1994 study conducted at Laval University in Quebec, Canada found that participants who engaged in 15 weeks of intervals (15 sprints for 30 seconds each) lost nine times more body fat and 12% more visceral belly fat than participants who engaged in 20 weeks of steady-state aerobic training. This was despite the fact that steady-state participants burned about 15,000 calories more than those in the interval group over the duration of the study.

Plus, you’ll get to enjoy an outdoor workout is great weather, with a change of scenery and some fresh air.

The workout:

  1. 5-minute warm-up – some easy running + mobility drills
  2. Sprint intervals – 20 x 30 sec sprint + 30 sec walk recovery
  3. 5-minute cool-down – walking + stretching

How to sprint: Run on the balls of your feet, with your foot striking underneath your hips – don’t over-stride or heel strike. Relax your arms and swing them backward and forward at a 90 degree angle. Run upright with your head high and in alignment with your torso.

Track etiquette

When running on the track, it is important to keep these track etiquette tips in mind:

  1. Use one the inside lanes for your sprint intervals.
  2. Use the outer lanes for active recovery intervals or slower sprints.
  3. Run in a counterclockwise direction, unless otherwise stipulated. Check for posted rules at the club or follow the lead of other runners.
  4. Always pass runners on the right (their outside shoulder).
  5. Be courteous and offer a word of warning if you’re passing.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

When he's not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He's worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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