Do you remember in school doing something called the Bleep Test? That horrific sprinting up and down trying to make it to the wall before the bleep? It was a tough workout and we all hated it, but wouldn’t you love to try it again today just for a giggle? Well, what if I said it didn’t have to last anywhere near as long and you could still reap amazing benefits from it?!
There is a variety of scientific research that suggests sprinting has a whole host of positive effects. Personally I am trying to fit one sprint workout in a week, which consists of an all out sprint for 50 metres six times with a brief rest in between, it is over in no time and leaves me feeling super refreshed.
Research has shown that sprinting tones the body by increasing protein synthesis, especially in women. It burns fat while preserving muscle, something that long distance runners can have a problem with.
What is it actually doing behind the scenes in the body? Research has shown1 that sprinting tones the body by increasing protein synthesis, especially in women. It burns fat while preserving muscle, something that long distance runners can have a problem with. Furthermore sprinting can promote the synthesis of mitochondria, the little ATP producing powerhouses of our cells. ATP, also known as Adenosine Triphosphate transports chemical energy within cells. The more mitochondria we have the more energised we feel. Preserving and increasing the amount can therefore only be beneficial. A study2 has show that high intensity sprinting promotes biogenesis – biogenesis is the production of new living organisms.
I can almost hear everyone say, my knees are bad, or I’m too old to sprint, but sprinting can be tailored for the individual. My sprint can be worlds apart form yours. Just briefly increasing the speed of anything you are doing can essentially be your own ‘personalised sprint’. Out for a walk? Pick up the pace for a brief period of time, stop and walk normally again. If you are trying to go easy on the joints, get on the exercise bike and try a few interval sprints. There is always a way to make exercise work for you, and if it gets your butt up off the couch it’s a win win in my book.
Personally I can see a real shift in the way people exercise, especially people who keep an eye on research and what is changing. Of course everyone has an opinion and if you are enjoying what you do for exercise that is fantastic, exercise shouldn’t be a chore, we need to find what works best for us. However sometimes you can get caught up in your own routine and broadening your scope can be just what you need to give you that extra boost. For instance the old school of thought would be if you want to drop some weight you need to eat less and move more. We can see that this hasn’t really worked; people are more sick and overweight than ever.
So what have we been doing wrong? Perhaps we should be dialing in the diet much more, and eating to thrive instead of just survive. We could concentrate on leading a less sedentary life, there has been plenty in the media lately about hitting the gym three times a week and then sitting at desk the rest of the day simply isn’t enough movement. I am pretty sure we didn’t evolve to sit on our butts all day. Prolonged sitting brings a host of issues such as short or tight hip flexors, tight hamstrings and weakening of the glutes. These are muscles we need everyday for basic movements.
On top of that we need to be getting plenty of sleep and working on our stress levels. This all sounds like a lot of difficult rules to follow. However, just like sitting down in front of the television after dinner has become routine, we can think about building a new routine, one that makes us feel amazing.
What do I think a good workout week looks like? Well if you can manage it, one sprint a week, a couple of strength training sessions, maybe some yoga or kettle bells, and generally move around when you can.
If you have a desk job who is going to stop you getting up every hour for a quick stretch? If it’s a nice day go for a walk on your lunch break, and get some vitamin D into the bargain. Do you live in an apartment block? Go on take the stairs!
Our time on Earth is temporary, lets make it a healthy vibrant journey.
- Esbjörnsson, M., Rundqvist, H. C., Mascher, H., Österlund, T., Rooyackers, O., Blomstrand, E. and Jansson, E. (January 23, 2012). Sprint exercise enhances skeletal muscle p70S6k phosphorylation and more so in women than in men. In Acta Physiologica, 205: 411–422. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.2012.02404.x. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1748-1716.2012.02404.x/abstract
- Little J.P., Safdar A., Bishop D., Tarnopolsky M.A., Gibala M.J. (March 30, 2011). An acute bout of high-intensity interval training increases the nuclear abundance of PGC-1α and activates mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle. In Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2011 Jun;300(6):R1303-10. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00538.2010. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21451146