Welcome to a comprehensive presentation about the amazing fitness benefits of sprinting and how to conduct workouts correctly!
While I have talked about the importance (and benefits) of sprinting for years on the podcast, a listener recently pointed out that I’ve never done a dedicated show on this subject, so in this episode, we’re going deep: You will learn about all the benefits, rationale, and science behind sprinting, as well as the practical application of how to integrate correctly designed sprint workouts into your fitness program. Unfortunately, despite its importance, this is an area of deficiency for many devoted fitness enthusiasts. However, as you will learn why in this show, we have a critical obligation to build our competency in this area, since sprinting is a key component to aging gracefully, longevity, health vitality, and peak performance, and it offers not just physical benefits, but also cognitive ones.
Sprinting is a key component of aging gracefully and promoting longevity, health, vitality, and peak performance at all lower levels of intensity. [00:48]
The hormonal signaling for going out and jogging or pedaling your bicycle for long distance is not directly correlated with dropping excess body fat. [04:00]
The hormonal benefits are there when you perform no impact or low impact sprints. Sprinting on flat ground is the harder workout. [09:47]
Once a week, once every seven to 10 days for a high impact running sprint is plenty, even for a very competent fitness enthusiast, let alone a novice. [11:00]
HIIT vs. HIRT is explained. Too many people participate in overly stressful exercises which do not help your long-term steady progression of fitness levels. [14:13]
The risk of injury skyrockets when you are asked to do a workout for which you are not capable. [17:12]
You want to be 100 percent rested and energized to deliver a peak performance effort every time you conduct a sprint workout. [20:26]
The proper techniques are available on Brad’s YouTube videos. They include maintaining a straight and elongates spine throughout the stride pattern, and maintaining a strong foot position. [23:16]
You burn energy better, you burn fat better, you store energy better from sprinting. [25:25]
Sprinting also helps you become more alert, more energized and more insulin sensitive. It also boosts your testosterone status. [28:42]
There is research showing that sprinting makes you smarter! And you also upregulate an assortment of anti-inflammatory processes. [35:54]
The number one goal to promote long healthy, active, energetic life is maintaining strong muscle mass. [40:16]
- Brad Kearns.com
- Brad’s Shopping page
- Brad’s Sprinting warmup technique
- Brad’s Sprinting technique
- Brad’s video how fast you sprint
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Welcome to the B.rad podcast, where we explore ways to pursue peak performance with passion throughout life without taking ourselves too seriously. I’m Brad Kearns, New York Times bestselling author, former number three, world ranked professional triathlete and Guinness World Record Masters athlete. I connect with experts in diet, fitness, and personal growth, and deliver short breather shows where you get simple actionable tips to improve your life right away. Let’s explore beyond the hype hacks, shortcuts, and sciencey talk to laugh. Have fun and appreciate the journey. It’s time to B.rad.
Welcome to a comprehensive presentation about the amazing fitness benefits of sprinting and how to conduct workouts correctly. I’ve talked about this so often for years on the podcast, but a listener pointed out that I haven’t really done a show dedicated to the subject. Go in deep and give you both the rationale, the benefits, the science, and the practical application of how to integrate correctly designed sprint workouts into your fitness program. I think it’s an area of deficiency for many devoted fitness enthusiasts, even people who are really big into going to the gym, working out, getting their cardio done, but staying away from the top end performance, uh, possibly due to intimidation factor or thinking they’re not fit enough to do high impact sprinting, which is fine. You can do low impact sprinting and also just a general aversion to pushing the body to maximum effort.
But that indeed is where you get the maximum return on investment, the maximum fitness benefits in the minimal amount of time. And it really is one of the quintessential human activities to be able to perform a brief explosive near all out sprint. So we have a critical obligation to build our competency in this area and enjoy and appreciate the benefits as they integrate into the other fitness objectives that you have, such as preparing for competition in your preferred sports or, uh, events. And also the strength training component, the resistance training, as well as the, uh, comfortably paced cardiovascular exercise. So those are the grade pillars that we’ve promoted a long time with the Primal Blueprint fitness laws, but sprinting a key component of aging gracefully and promoting longevity, health, vitality, and peak performance at all lower levels of intensity. So when you become excellent competent at sprinting, you get better at endurance and you get better at resistance training.
You have all these, uh, cognitive benefits where your perceived exertion is lower because you have taught your body and your nervous system how to fire those muscles with maximum explosiveness. So then you next time head for a routine jog down the street and it feels easier. So, this is one of the ultimate genetic signaling for peak performance, vitality longevity because it’s an appropriate stimulation of the fight or flight response. It’s the quintessential stimulation of the fight or flight response and the evolutionary model, because we had to sprint away from predator danger as one of the main selection pressures that humans have faced for millions of years until recent comfort civilized modern life. Okay, so, um, this is key to sending the correct genetic signals for health, vitality, strength, peak performance, and explosive performance. I’s the single best activity to promote rapid reduction of excess body fat.
There are all kinds of hormonal reasons for this biological reasons, but essentially what we’re talking about here is that the penalty for carrying excess body fat as you attempt to perform a brief explosive all-out sprint is so severe that that kicks in the profound genetic signaling and hormonal processes to drop that excess body fat quickly. Remember, the body responds to training stimulus. So whatever you do to the body, it will adapt and cope and become better. Of course, this is assuming you do it correctly, you’re not overdoing it, exhausting yourself, burning yourself out. As John Jaquish, the inventor of the X three bar, uh, says very nicely on many of his Instagram posts. When you are training for endurance, you are essentially sending the opposite genetic signals to the body that is to preserve body fat and get rid of lean muscle mass in order to become more competent at that long distance aerobic activity.
That’s not to say this stuff is bad for that reason, but it’s just an interesting note or reference to realize that the hormonal signaling for going out there and jogging or pedaling your bicycle for long distance is not directly correlated with dropping excess body fat, especially when you perform these exercises at that inappropriate chronic cardio heart rate zone. So if you go medium to difficult intensity on your jogs, on your bicycle rides, on your long distance activity, that is going to promote an overproduction of stress hormones, that’s an inappropriate stimulation of the fight or flight response. And accordingly, you are going to be in fat storage mode, immune suppression mode and also muscle wasting mode. So we definitely need to perform cardio appropriately. I’ve done many shows on that where I’m talking about keeping the heart rate in that 180 minus your age in beats per minute or below to make sure the activity is minimally stressful, and you are emphasizing fat burning, minimizing stress hormone production.
And then on the flip side, when we talk about sprinting, and this comes up as a common question, so I want to emphasize this, you don’t care what your heart rate is. Of course, it’s getting up to near maximum, so you don’t need to go and wear a monitor and try to keep your heart rate in a certain zone while sprinting. I’m sorry to chuckle when I get the question, but it’s like, look, the objective of sprinting is to bust as and go fast and be explosive, and the heart rate’s gonna do what it does. It might be appropriate to check your heart rate during the recovery period and see if you can drop down to a certain threshold, making sure you get the, uh, a similar amount of recovery on each successive rep. So however long it takes to get your heart rate back down to 145 or whatever it is.
That might be something to try, but in general, we’re talking about going hard and then going home. So the workouts are short in duration, and that’s an important aspect of it. I’m gonna get into the appropriate protocol, the template protocol, um, but the workout ends quickly and the sum total of all the intense work efforts is pretty, minimal, right? So you’re only sprinting for 10 to 20 seconds. Ideally you’re doing between four and 10 reps. And so even at the complete outside of those ranges, let’s say 10 sprints of 20 seconds, that’s only three and a half minutes of high level activity. Of course, the workout takes a while because you’re doing cardio warmup, you’re doing dynamic stretching, you’re doing preparatory technique drills, which can also be quite difficult and get your heart rate up and, and be part of a, a comprehensive workout, but the actual all out sprint during the main set don’t take that much time.
That’s what’s so great about sprinting. We’re not asking you to dedicate another couple hours a week to your sprint objectives. We’re talking about very short duration and high return on investment workouts. The renewal signal, I love that term from Dr. Art DeVany, that’s what sprinting does. It sends a renewal signal to your genes. So when you can build competency performing at maximum output, it carries over into all things that you do in general everyday life, such as carrying four boxes of items from the big box store, from the car into your house, and performing these routine work activities that we do throughout the day. We want to show those muscles what it’s like to perform at maximum output, and then that improves competency for everything. Of course, all these wonderful benefits that I’m talking about, they can also, um, correlate with an increased risk of injury,, breakdown burnout because the workout is so difficult.
So that’s, that’s when it comes to be very important to follow the correct protocols. Um, so I talked about how sprinting, and I should also mention that jumping goes right in there in the same category of sprinting where you perform a sequence of jumping workouts. I like to perform for high jump and do jumping drills. That’s the same attribute of maximum explosiveness, short-term explosive performance that gives you all these hormonal and genetic signaling benefits. So if you wanna develop the hobby of jumping, I welcome you to take a look at all the great opportunities for fun there. But we’re gonna talk about sprinting and especially across the board spectrum of doing high impact, running on flat ground. That’s the ultimate form of sprinting, but for many people, we wanna work toward that goal because you’re not necessarily able to bust out the door this morning and go perform a sprint workout.
Even if you are a fit person who puts a lot of time in at your group bicycle exercise classes or lifts a lot of weights, it does take some adaptability and some gradual progression toward sprinting on flat ground. So you can start with low impact, no impact sprints, progress to running, uh, sprinting up a staircase or sprinting up a hill, which is much less impact trauma than sprinting on flat ground. And then you’re gonna progress toward doing some really brief, we call them wind sprints on flat ground and making sure that your body’s adaptable. And it might take a week, a month might take six months of steady progression until one day you can perform sprints on flat ground, hopefully. So, the hormonal benefits, the genetic signaling benefits are there when you perform no impact or low impact sprints. But the maximum benefits when we bring in things like building connective tissue resilience and building bone density and sending the maximum most powerful signal to shed excess body fat, those come when we, uh, put in the high impact sprints, of course, because you’re building bone density when you’re loading.
And boy, the vertical force production, which we’ll talk about later when you’re sprinting on flat ground, can be up to five times your body weight. So you are really subjecting your bones to nice force that prompts them to improve bone density throughout life. So, um, I talked about the increased injury risk and then accordingly and all the wonderful benefits that you can obtain from these high impact sprint workouts, uh, you don’t have to do them very often, and indeed, they require extensive recovery time afterwards. So the template that we’ve long communicated with Primal Blueprint Fitness is once a week, once every seven to 10 days for a high impact running sprint is plenty, even for a very competent fitness enthusiast, let alone a novice. Now, if you are sprinting on the bicycle like I talk about my CAR.O.Lfit, uh, indoor stationary bicycle that has the programming for, uh, short duration sprint workouts, certainly you can do that twice a week, maybe even more.
Okay? So once a week is plenty for high impact running sprints, let’s say twice a week for a no impact or low impact sprint workout. Now, I think it’s important to define what a sprint workout really is. And so that’s performing at near maximum intensity for a short duration, such that the entire effort can be considered a near all out effort. And this contrasts sharply with the very popular fitness protocol called HIIT High Intensity Interval Training. And if you google that term or watch videos, you can learn about all the amazing fitness benefits of HIIT training, and it’s so much better than steady state cardio, and it’ll get you in shape so fast and all these great attributes. But by and large, my contention in the fitness industry is that the mainstream application of the HIIT training protocol is a fricking disaster because most of these workouts are by nature, overly stressful, exhausting, and depleting.
So I’m talking about the 45 minute group exercise, bicycle class or step class or boot camp class or bar class or whatever. For the very fit participants, it can be an appropriate fitness stimulation, especially if you really love it and enjoy it, and have gotten good enough shape to get through the workout without overly taxing yourself. But when I go into the routine gym across America or the world, and I see these red faces and I see the same people out there in the park or at the running club with a group of them doing intervals around the running track, they are basically running themselves into a massive spike in appetite, a prolonged spike in stress hormones from a workout that is too strenuous and asking for medium to high difficulty efforts over and over again. Efforts that last too long have insufficient recovery periods between them and workouts that are performed too frequently.
So when you go to the, even even doing it yourself at home, at the Peloton workout with the peppy instructor that you love to log in a and get energized and perform a nice session and get a good sweat and feel a buzz, an endorphin buzz after all these things, what is happening is you are overstimulating the fight or flight response on a workout that is slightly too difficult and perform too frequently to really contribute to a long-term steady progression in your fitness levels. So we wanna distinguish a sprint workout as something that’s much shorter, has a lot of rest periods between these hard efforts, and the efforts are very brief in duration between 10 and 20 seconds is ideal. And that contrast sharply look, let’s say, a bootcamp exercise where you’re swinging the weights around for one minute, and then you’re taking it easy for a minute, and then you’re doing it again for a minute and you’re doing it 10 times, whatever these protocols are.
Same with heading out and running at your anaerobic threshold for 30 minutes, and doing that a couple days a week. Uh, these are exhausting depleting workouts rather than the true sprint workout, which is very difficult, of course, but it will leave you kind of with a dance in your step as you’re walking away from the running track or the hills where you performed your work because you haven’t depleted your glycogen, you haven’t overstimulated these stress hormones and not feeling like you could, uh, eat the whole refrigerator after, or kind of feeling that brain fog that occurs two hours, eight hours, 24 hours after a workout. That was exhausting and depleting. And I had the great guest on my show, Dr. Craig Marker, talking about his concept of HIIT versus HIRT. HIIT high intensity interval training versus his, take that he wrote so beautifully in that landmark article.
And that stands for high intensity repeat training. So the critical distinction between a hit workout and a hurt session, HIRT, is that the repeats are of consistent quality. So you’re not like getting more and more tired as the workout progresses and you’re really hanging on, on interval 7, 8, 9, and 10. Your forms breaking a little bit as you’re swinging the weights in the air and your lower backs starting to stiffen up. And all these things that people generally experience when they perform these overly stressful HIIT workouts. The sprinting is explosive, powerful. Each rep is a accordingly, uh, uh, similarly explosive and powerful, delivering a nice consistent high performance effort. And then you go home before fatigue starts to kick in and accumulate and degrade your performance and degrade your technique, thereby increasing injury risk. I should also mention CrossFit, which I love the philosophy, the strategy, the variability, the challenges, the group energy, the camaraderie.
However, in many examples, especially for people who aren’t at that extreme fitness level, who can really handle the, the protocol well, the workout is going to cause an accumulation of fatigue and a degradation of not only performance, but technique. And then when you’re asked to perform complex movements such as the Olympic lifting, that’s a centerpiece of CrossFit or simply jumping up and down on a box, uh, when you’re getting tired, that’s when your injury risk skyrockets. And that’s what we see is overuse injuries and or acute injuries. Look who’s talking, when I was doing my picnic table jumps last summer, and I guess wasn’t paying attention, maybe I had some fatigue accumulating or something. Uh, but on one of the reps, I smashed my shin into the picnic table, and it was a major ordeal with stitches, infection, a lot of downtime just from being stupid and not being crisp, precise, and explosive with every single thing that I do.
That’s relating to that like jumping up and down off of a picnic table. Okay? So, um, the drawbacks of HIIT training sessions should be noted. That’s not to say that once in a while you can perform a really challenging workout, such as a CrossFit session where you’re going hard from start to finish. I just don’t like the pattern, the commonplace practice of people trying to do these three or four days a week. And if you perform a HIIT session so frequently, it by definition is not truly high intensity because you’re coming into the workout with an accumulation of fatigue. So sprinting is getting away from all that nonsense and striving for this concept that I have coined a consistent quality of effort on each rep. That’s how you know that you have performed a very productive, impactful sprint workout. That also means how many reps should I do on my sprint, Brad? You are going to continue until you notice that slight degradation in performance, accordance increase in perceived degree of difficulty in order to attain the same performance.
So if we’re talking about, let’s say, 80 meter sprints that I really enjoy. Takes me perhaps around nine or 10 seconds, uh, going down the, uh, the athletic field and my time on each one is nine or 10 seconds, and then I throw in an 11 second or a 12 second, while still trying hard and, and trying to deliver a nice effort. But if my time gets slower, that’s an indication that it’s time to pull the plug on the workout. Similarly, if I can still do a ten second, but it was much harder than the first, second and third effort or getting up to the top of the hill in, in 18 seconds or whatever, I still got my time because we’re so tough and, and strong and motivated and disciplined, and we can still perform at the desired output level. However, if it’s harder and you start to notice things like muscle new muscle tension kicking in the low back is getting little stiff towards the end of many of my sprint workouts, I can start to feel a little tightness in the upper hamstrings and the glutes.
That’s when I know it’s time to pull the plug. So we want consistent quality of effort, both in perceived degree of difficulty and in the result, the time that you’re turning in. Okay, that’s really, um, one of the most crucial aspects of a correct sprint session. And indeed, we’re gonna get into more detail with these concepts that I’m mentioning kind of at the outset to give you a good big picture overview. Um, but another key attribute of correct sprinting, uh, protocol is that you wanna be 100% rested and energized to deliver a peak performance effort every time you conduct a sprint workout. So if you’re feeling dragass a certain day, but it’s Tuesday and you plan to do a sprint workout, the workout is hereby canceled unless you wake up feeling great, or you get into, let’s say your morning exercise routine, you complete it, now, you feel great.
Sometimes that happens to me where I’m shuffling a little bit first thing in the morning, then I hit my red light, uh, for those of you watching on video, yeah, there goes some red light and there it goes off <laugh>. But I can do that, go in my 40 minute morning exercise session, then I feel great, then I head over to the track and I deliver a good workout. But if you get to the track and start doing some of the warmup and the preparatory technique drills, and you’re starting to, you, you’re noticing, that you are a little subpar, your legs feel a little heavy, your hamstrings are tight, your lower back’s tight, that is not, uh, an appropriate day to continue with the planned sprint workout. So you have to be highly intuitive and willing to be flexible and adjust on the fly to curtail the session, perhaps halfway through or a quarter of the way through, and come back again another day when you feel great.
So these workouts are to be performed only when you feel, let’s call it great. And you’re gonna really get the right signals as you sequence through the various steps necessary to conduct a correct sprint workout. Again, I’m gonna cover those in detail, but we’re talking about cardio warmup, we’re talking about dynamic stretching technique drills, wind sprints, and finally the main set. So you have to get through those first phases, feeling good, feeling good, the wind sprints feel good, I’m ready to go. But if you’re wind sprints feel like crap or your left calf is starting to tighten up already, that’s a, a great indication that you’re gonna pass and come back again and try it another day. We’re also gonna get into some attributes of correct sprinting technique. So this might be a little difficult to absorb over audio or video me talking, but you can watch my running technique instruction video on YouTube viral video.
It’s over 2 million views now cuz it’s got great comprehensive information for how to sprint correctly. And the technique of running, we kind of give it an afterthought like, oh, it’s, you know, it’s not that technique dependent like swimming or other sports, golf, tennis, but it is really important and we see a lot of flaws and a lot of, uh, wasted energy out there with the casual enthusiasts. So I want to give you some great technique tips that are unforgettable, easy to learn and implement, and that’ll get you sprinting with the correct form, maximum explosive force production on each stride and minimal injury risk because you’re absorbing impact beautifully and not traumatizing the joints and the connective tissue with poor landing or poor use of body mechanics. Um, so some of those in brief are things like maintaining a straight and elongated spine throughout the stride pattern.
Of course, we’re talking about running here, so we don’t want to kind of collapse land and absorb impact into the ground and see our pelvis cave under the effort or our spine kind of hunch or curl over. We wanna be straight and tall while we’re sprinting at all times, and we want to use the achilles tendon and the muscles of the lower extremities to their maximum potential by striving for what I call a strong foot position throughout the running stride. And that entails dorsa flexing the foot as soon as it comes off the ground that’s flexing the arch. And for example, trying to pick your heel up high off the ground and your toe, and then driving that leg forward and landing it right under your body. So you’re landing in sprinting with the balanced center of gravity at all times. Your leg hits the ground right underneath your head, your hips, and your legs, rather than this common flaw of trying to extend forward and land your foot out in front of your body because you’re trying so hard to go forward to get to the finish line that is in effect breaking every single stride.
So that’s a huge technique error that can be easily corrected. We also wanna make sure that the torso, the hips, the shoulders are facing forward rather than swiveling back and forth and losing energy accordingly. So we have to have a stable base from which to fire our legs explosively. And that entails tensing up the core and keeping the core tight and strong and forward facing so that we can get maximum energy production out of the powerful muscles of the lower extremities that drive that sprinting. There are an assortment of fantastic health and fitness benefits that come from sprinting. So I’m going to breeze through these and get you so excited and convinced that sprinting is a necessary element of your fitness program. The main one is just you become a fitter human and you can perform better at all fitness activities including performing at all lower levels of intensity.
So what sprinting does, it improves capillary profusion in mitochondrial biogenesis, you build a bigger engine to perform all manner of athletic activity. It turbocharges the oxidative enzymes that burn fat and glucose enhances oxygen utilization and maximal oxygen uptake in the lungs improves your ability to store glycogen and preserve glycogen improves muscle buffering capacity. That’s the ability to handle that. Uh, lactic acid burn that you feel when your muscles start to burn when they’re working hard. And it extends the subjective time to fatigue marker at all lower levels of exercise intensity. So when they perform these experiments in the lab and they ask the people to ride the bicycle as fast as they can how long can they last? And they go from 37 minutes to 45 minutes after engaging in sprint protocols. But all that other sciencey terms I put up there, you burn energy better, you burn fat better, you store energy better.
You are just a cleaner, more powerful burning machine. So it’s your heart, your lungs, your brain neurons, your muscles. You’re teaching them to perform at maximum capacity so they become better, uh, during everyday life. We also have these awesome anti-aging benefits to sprinting. Sprinting triggers a cascade of positive neuroendocrine, hormonal and gene expression events that deliver potent anti-aging effect like no other activity that you can imagine really. So you get this appropriate spike of adaptive hormones like testosterone, like human growth hormone that circulate in the bloodstream after your workout. And that’s what gives you these anti-aging benefits. The body responds from the appropriate stress, the appropriate fight or flight stimulation of sprinting by coming back stronger the next time by sending these hormones into the bloodstream to act upon target organs and tissues and make you fitter stronger, and of course, leaner, as I talked about that benefit at the outset. It stimulates lean muscle development or preserving lean muscle mass accelerates the burning of excess body fat.
You also become more alert, more energized, more insulin sensitive. You can even improve your lipid profiles. And that is of course going hand in hand with healthy dietary habits. But these studies are amazing. Um, they’ve shown, for example, a boost in human growth hormone from one high intensity sprint bicycle session, a boost of 530%. And so when you improve your growth hormone status and you improve your testosterone status, you’re going to have, uh, better libido, better cell repair functioning happening. Uh, there’s a lot of associations with improved cognitive function when your testosterone status improves, again, for both females and males. It’s highly relevant. Females have 20 times less testosterone than males, but the appropriate level for the female is extremely important for let’s say, dropping excess body fat, maintaining lean, toned body mass, and all the cognitive importance of testosterone as detailed, uh, in books like, uh, Ashley Merryman’s Top Dog, and I had her as a former podcast guest where she talked about how testosterone influences behavior.
It’s the social status hormone, so it makes you better at whatever you enjoy doing not just athletic events and being more aggressive, uh, <laugh> and, uh, that, that narrow view that we often, uh, harbor about testosterone being great for the, uh, uh, uh, the, the guy lifting the huge heavyweights are playing the football game. Um, so we talked about fat reduction, but it’s this genetic signaling to drop that excess body fat because the penalty is so severe when you’re trying to perform explosively and carry unnecessary weight through a fast striding effort. That’s a lot different than shuffling along and carrying excess body fat through a five hour, six hour marathon run, or even less relevant when you’re sitting on a bicycle seat. So you can go and bicycle a hundred miles, you got 20 pound spare tire around your waist, and it’s no big deal because your body weight is supported on the seat.
Now, when you’re climbing on a bicycle, excess weight becomes extremely important in the same manner that it does when you’re running. But absorbing that impact and launching explosively off the ground, that is the best way to get rid of excess body fat. Here’s one study that was cited by the late great Charles Poloquin, legendary, u strength and fitness performance coach who passed sadly at a young age recently, in his fifties. Um, he cites research that the test subjects did six sessions o over the course of two weeks. So they did six sprint workouts consisting of six times 30 seconds, sprinting. They lost an average of three centimeters around their waistline, so they lowered that very important level of visceral fat that waistline fat just with six sprint workouts that lasted for. And look at that six times 30 seconds.
That’s three minutes of hard effort. So just dabbling and sprinting over two weeks start to show improved waistline. Here’s another great benefit of becoming competent at sprinting resilience to physical and psychological fatigue. A researcher named Jens Bangsbo at University of Copenhagen, uh, published research that pub publicizing the idea that muscle fatigue during exercise is primarily caused by depleting the sodium potassium pumps that process energy in the muscle cells. So the sodium potassium pumps ensure that you have the right concentration of minerals and other agents necessary for ATP energy production in these cells. And when you start challenging the muscles with maximum intensity contractions, sprinting, lifting, heavy weight, all the things that challenge the muscles to failure, for example, as you’re familiar with in the gym, when you start to do this frequently or even occasionally, right, guess what? The sodium potassium pumps become more efficient, more effective at processing energy, even at rest or even during, for example, endurance exercise.
So, the triathlete crowd who have long been averse to sprinting, they prefer to go out there and pedal for five hours or swim back and forth in the pool for an hour or run for a couple hours slowly on the trails. Same with the ultra community. If those types of people can sprinkle in the occasional very short duration sprint workout, they will improve the sodium potassium pumps, they will improve fat metabolism and all these things that, of course, are highly relevant in their chosen sport of going slow for a longer period of time. Think about Kipchoge the great marathon runner who has broken two hours for the marathon, running at an average pace of four minutes, 32 seconds per mile, and then we go out to the track and try to experience how fast that is. That is a really high performance effort.
It’s explosive to be able to move the body that fast to run laps in 68 seconds. And he is an endurance machine. So he is doing it for 26 miles to break the world record and win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. But we have to appreciate the explosive component of even an extreme endurance contest like a marathon. Now, if you’re shuffling along with excess body fat and running your five and a half hour marathon, there’s not much explosiveness there. But if you can improve your own explosiveness in the ways that your muscles process energy and the ways that your body processes fatty acids, you will indeed feel it will indeed feel much easier to shuffle along at five and a half hour pace to the extent that you might improve your time to a five hour marathon by dabbling in sprinting. Of course, with, uh, especially the high-impact sprinting, you’re going to build stronger muscles, joints, and connective tissue.
Now, even the low or no impact sprinting is still gonna deliver these benefits. So if you’re doing your sprints, uh, on the rowing machine or on the stationary bicycle, you’re still gonna build stronger muscles, joints, and connective tissue, especially. I do my sprints on the CAR.O.L Bike and, uh, a lot of ’em are seated and a lot of ’em are standing where I’m really mashing on those pedals for it. It’s either an eight second sprint, one of the workouts or a 22nd sprint. But when I’m standing and pushing down with all my body weight on the pedals, I am getting a bit of load impact, load not traumatic as it would bouncing off the ground, but I’m still putting my muscles under load. So you will improve bone density and connective tissue resilience when you are doing low or no impact sprints, Of course, sprinting up a hill or something that’s kind of bridging that gap from a true no impact, like being in the water swimming pool to the high impact.
those are gonna give you more and more benefits. Um, there’s also great research showing that sprinting, sprinting make you smarter. That’s right. Sprinting improves memory, neuroplasticity and motor skills not just during sprinting, but for all manner of brain function. And it also has wonderful mood elevating benefits by decreasing inflammation and improving oxygen delivery to the brain. Again, the big picture insight here is that when you ask the body to perform at maximum intensity, this includes of course, the central nervous system, which is firing the muscles and striving to maintain good technique while experiencing fatigue. All these challenges to the brain carry over into being able to do a better job on your term paper or your proposal that you’re writing when you come back from the track and, uh, re-immerse into your busy, hectic, modern life. It also just has these stress resiliency benefits where if you can do something like that, you can put yourself through an athletic challenge and persevere and complete it and do it correctly.
Striving for consistent quality of effort on each performance, you become a more focused, disciplined, and resilient human in every way. In a way, much more profound, I would say, than being able to head out your garage door and pedal on your bicycle for an hour. That’s still a great achievement. It’s way better than sitting on the couch. But at a certain point, when you become highly adapted to, let’s say, for example, hiking your one hour on the weekend to the observatory and then head back down to the parking lot, that’s wonderful, that’s fantastic. But once your body adapts to that, it’s not delivering these profound, incredible, outstanding hormonal and genetic benefits as a maximum intensity sprint workout does. So of course, those two are not mutually exclusive, and I want you to get as much low level activity as possible. There’s all manner of health benefits to be enjoyed when you lead a more generally active lifestyle.
But then if we want to go deeper and explore the tremendous anti-aging potential for sprinting, it’s going to blow doors off your habit of pedaling your one-mile down to the central square every day to buy a potato at the farmer’s market and pedaling home. We wanna push and challenge the body to age gracefully. Use it or lose it is the maxim that applies to sprinting. So that’s the cognitive and mood and benefits. We also have instant improvement in immune and metabolic function immediately after a sprint workout. Blood markers of endogenous antioxidant defenses against oxidative stress upregulate, mitochondrial biogenesis boosts in skeletal muscle and the signaling for muscle growth kicks in. You also up-regulate an assortment of anti-inflammatory processes. So what’s going on here is the body is constantly striving for homeostasis, where all systems are in balance and you’re regulated, your temperature, your hormones, everything.
And so when you challenge the body with a high performance sprint workout and kickstart those fight or flight mechanisms, as soon as you stop the workout, you are going to start kickstart these homeostatic processes. Same with getting out of the sauna. Your body has to kickstart a bunch of beneficial health processes to get back to normal body temperature. When you get out of the cold plunge, your body kicks into gear to rewarm, and you start burning fat at an accelerated rate and experience all those benefits. So they call these hormetic stressors and boy, it’s easy to overdo it and get an adverse impact of the stressors that you apply to your body. But when you do them appropriately, when you get a cold therapy practice going, when you get a sauna practice going, when you get a sprint workout protocol going, that’s when you can be the best that you can be and experience all these wonderful health peak performance, resiliency, body composition benefits, anti-aging benefits.
Finally on this long list that I’m going through you get this beneficial improvement in muscle mass, muscle strength, muscle toning, right? So you’re not gonna get all blown up and overly muscled from doing sprinting. A lot of females are averse to doing high intensity exercise because they’re afraid of blowing up. You’re just gonna be honoring your own genetics, and if you have a tendency to get a little bigger muscles from doing high intensity activity, that’s generally gonna make you look and feel better. And the main goal we have, especially as we get into the older age groups, is to preserve lean muscle mass and lean muscle strength throughout life as what’s widely regarded to be the number one goal, the number one attribute to promote a long, healthy, active, energetic life and guard against the, uh, extremely prevalent condition of sarcopenia.
That is a decline in muscle mass associated with aging. That is the strongest, one of the strongest accelerators of, accelerated aging decline and demise, and now is being associated with also cognitive decline. So even if you don’t care to be a fit person we really wanna work hard to avoid the increasingly common conditions of dementia Alzheimer’s. They are now referring to these conditions as type three diabetes. It’s a nickname. And that’s because Alzheimer’s dementia and related conditions are marked by dysfunctional glucose metabolism in the brain. And as I was going over the benefits of sprinting and improved brain function, improve energy utilization throughout the body, including the brain, the very sensitive brain neurons that process energy, uh, in, in a more delicate manner than, let’s say, somewhere else in the body. That’s when you have to make sure that your insulin sensitivity is fine tuned through, uh, vigorous activity and appropriately conducted sprint workouts.
So it’s a big deal to mind and body to age gracefully to push it hard once in a while. So I think I should wrap up a tidy little, part one of what’s gonna be a three or four part presentation on all aspects of sprinting and how to do it correctly, uh, because the next segment will be, uh, what I have come up with is 13 different steps to execute a sprint workout properly. So I can’t wait to get into those with you. Uh, but I think, uh, this episode has appropriately convinced you of all the tremendous health and fitness benefits associated with sprinting the anti-aging benefits. And I can’t wait to get further into it, but start thinking about how we’re gonna dabble in the world of sprinting and get more and more competent. It’s so fun. It’s such a great rewarding experience to realize that you have some competency, for example, running around a track or just running down the field and feeling great and feeling that exhilaration of pushing yourself hard, or whether it’s sitting on a bicycle or sprinting down the length of the pool that you’re so used to swimming laps back and forth.
It’s kind of a different kick even for someone who’s really devoted to fitness and has been going, uh, medium, uh, slow, medium hard, more slow pedaling down to farmer’s market, uh, getting your, your, your, your kale and your blueberries and pedaling back home. But when it’s time to go fast and you get those pedals cranking, it’s a whole different breakthrough in your perception of what it means to be a fit person and the exhilaration you get from testing your limits. So thanks for listening and way more to come on the awesome topic of sprinting.
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