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To Sprint or not to Sprint?

John Withinshaw reveals how, and why, he incorporates sprinting into his own exercise regime.

"Life is often compared to a marathon, but I think it is more like being a sprinter; long stretches of hard work punctuated by brief moments in which we are given the opportunity to perform at our best." - Michael Johnson

I've just started the next phase of exercise in my personal regime and on Tuesday was a sprint interval session.

I've been out a couple of times before and put in some hill sprints in Kilburn woods but never really included them as a full on training protocol.

The mere thought of doing them filled me with dread to begin with but once I started, I really got to enjoy them, until the last 5 minutes which get super tough.

If you're looking to increase your performance as a runner, cyclist, swimmer, everyday athlete or just to make everyday life that little bit easier. You'll not find a better, faster and more rewarding way to do it.

All you really need is a good, long flat road to run up and down or a massive loop if you're lucky enough to be anywhere near one.

A timer that bleeps loud enough to hear and a pair of trainers.

If you're really hardcore then getting out on some hilly trails will go a long way to turning you into a badass athlete, might even give that a go myself.

Also, if you've found that your performance has plateaued somewhat then sprints might just be the ticket to bust through them.

Grade your effort RPE (Rate Of Perceived Expenditure) from 0 - 10 and set your timer for 50 seconds and 10 seconds X 20.

The 50 second part, run/jog at about 3-4 on your scale and then explode straight up to 10 for the 10 second part for 20 minutes.

A superb, short, sharp workout with a massive amount of bang for your buck.

Benefits of a workout like this are;

  1. Improved recovery time

  2. Faster ATP energy production

  3. Great abs

  4. Leaner/stronger legs

  5. Good body composition

  6. Improved metabolism

  7. Lower blood pressure and improved heart health

  8. Better co-ordination

  9. Increased power output

  10. Better endurance and work capacity

  11. Improved mental toughness and motivation

  12. Increased testosterone and growth hormone

It may well be 20 minutes of pure hell but as you can see, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. The clients I have had doing this swear at me while they do it but it is so worth it.

They don't necessarily have to be done as running intervals. Other great alternatives are Concept 2 rowers, Spin bikes, Watt bikes and Cross trainers.

I would recommend the Concept 2 above all the others if you really want to make the most of the indoors.

In Fitness & In Health

John 'Usain Bolt Wannabe' Withinshaw

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