Sprinting Workouts to Lose Weight

By Nick Ng

Spending at least 30 minutes on a treadmill or a stationary bike to lower your weight may not appeal to some people. Sprinting workouts, however, can spike up your metabolism during and after your workout. This condition is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption -- or EPOC -- in which your body continues to burn more calories after workout for 15 minutes to 48 hours, says exercise physiologists Chantal A. Vella and Len Kravitz. Therefore, sprinting workouts can help you lose weight faster than steady-pace aerobics.

Torch More Calories in Less Time

Although sprinting relies almost entirely on carbohydrates for energy during the workout, your body uses mostly fat as the main source of fuel during EPOC. Research performed at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, showed that subjects who performed two-minute running intervals had about the same level of EPOC as those who performed 30 minutes of steady-pace, moderate aerobics. The duration of the sprinting workout would range from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your fitness status. In a study published in the June 2012 issue of "Journal of Obesity," young men who performed 20 minutes of interval sprinting three times a week for 12 weeks had a 17 percent reduction in abdominal fat and gained 0.4 kilogram of lean mass in the legs and 0.7 kilogram of lean mass in the trunk.

Master the Basics

Before you start sprinting like the road runner, gradually develop your endurance by doing linear bounding, which is sprinting in a straight line with long strides. Physical therapist Gray Cook recommends starting with a distance of 20 yards before adding 5-foot increments. Use a running track or a large field with turf to soften the impact on your knees and hips, and use small orange cones to gauge the distance. Start at one of the cones and begin jogging toward the opposite cone. Build up your speed and the striding distance of legs with each step. You should be airborne with every stride. Swing your arms while keeping them bent at about 90 degrees. Do not slow down until you have bounded past the cone. Turn around and sprint back to the starting cone. Rest for 15 to 30 seconds before repeating the linear bounding as much as you can for 10 minutes.

A Friendly Competiton

Having one or more friends who train with you can keep you committed to your weight-loss goal. You can do the sprinting workouts together by creating different games to play. With one friend, you can add a ball toss with the basic bounding exercise. While your friend is bounding, run alongside and toss a light medicine ball or a similar object at him or her. The ball is constantly passed back and forth until the sprinter reaches the opposite cone. If four or more people are in the workout, do a sprint relay for a friendly competition in which two people are on each sprint toward the opposite cone and sprint back, giving the second sprinter a high-five before the second sprinter takes off. The distance can be adjusted for difficulty.

Always Refine Your Mechanics

Even if you can sprint for 200 yards easily, always refine the basic sprinting mechanics. You can do this as part of your warm-ups before you sprint. These drills may include sprinting arm action, mountain climbers, walking on your toes or heels, skipping for height, butt kicks and leg drives. These drills will help you better prepare for the upcoming workout with less risk of injury. If you're new to sprinting, work with a qualified sprinting coach or exercise professional before you train on your own.

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