With summer just around the corner, you may be mentally sprinting for fat loss–planning how to quickly get your body in the shorts and swimsuit shape of your dreams. However, by actually getting your feet moving fast, you can sync mind and body to literally speed up the fat you burn.
While long-distance cardio in the way of running, swimming, biking, and so on can be great for maintaining good health, adding in explosive movements in the way of sprints can give your fat-loss progress a boost. Sometimes referred to as High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, this exercise approach alternates between periods of all-out effort and little to no effort, or recovery.
When you’re giving a workout everything you’ve got, your body is hitting its max capacity, reaching limits that aren’t sustainable over longer durations (such as running a 5k). And while shorter workouts may feel like cheating, studies have shown HIIT-based exercises result in better fat loss over time than longer, low-intensity fitness.
Ready. Set. Sprint.
While there are all kinds of HIIT workouts for you to try, sprinting is a great place to start. It requires no equipment other than a good pair of shoes (unless you’re a barefoot runner, that is), and some open space to run: your driveway, backyard, nearby high school track, the park, the open road, etc. And since you’re familiar with running–even if you haven’t done it since back in gym class–you’re well set to take off.
But before you do, let’s talk quickly about form. Sprinting is different from longer distance running and jogging not just in speed but also how your body moves. With the former, your body may be more upright, arms relaxed, and feet striking the ground at mid-foot. With sprinting, you want to think about being aerodynamic, cutting through wind resistance by being angled forward slightly. You’ll pump your arms with force, helping to build momentum and speed. And you’ll primarily land on your toes or the front section of your foot. All of these minor tweaks to your usual running form will help to keep you light on your feet and moving at your fastest.
Sprinting for Fat Loss Workouts
Following an active warm-up to get your muscles and body prepared to move, add one or more of the following sprint sessions to your weekly workouts.
Flatlanders: On a flat surface complete 5-7 x 50 meter sprints, building up to 100% effort on your final sprint(s). Take one-minute rest periods between each sprint.
Speed Climbers: The goal is to increase your speed twice over the course of one sprint. You can do this by distance, running at 50 percent for the first 50 meters, 75 percent for the next 50 meters, and 100 percent for the final 50 meters. You can also break this down by time, increasing speed after 10- or 15-second intervals.
Hill Climbs: Add intensity to your sprints by taking them up an incline. On a hill, complete six sprints lasting 30 seconds each. Walk back down hill and reach controlled breathing before starting the next sprint.
Time Ladders: Increase your sprint time by ten seconds with each round, starting at 30 seconds and ending with 60 seconds. Take one-minute rest periods between each. Here’s what it would look like:
- 30-second sprint
- One-minute rest
- 40-second sprint
- One-minute rest
- 50-second sprint
- One-minute rest
- 60-second sprint
Get creative with how you work in your sprints, and you’ll soon see the benefits of fast feet–and fast fitness!