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The High Performance Journal

The Best Type Of Cardio To Burn Fat And Live Longer

high performance journal Apr 02, 2024

Read time: 4.3 minutes

The High Performance Journal - April 2nd, 2024


If you watch any track and field event you'll notice the different body types of each athlete.

One example would be shot putters who are large and husky. Another example would be marathon runners who are skinny and lithe.

Most times you can correlate an athlete's body to the sport they perform in.

There's one type of body that always comes out as one of the most lean and built of all athletes:

Sprinters.

While I'm not a fan of using cardio to burn fat I must admit sprinting is one of the best types of cardio to do so.

But sprinting is much more than that. When you dig deeper it's a great tool to live a ​long healthy life​.

In today's article, I'll share with you why sprinting can help you build muscle, burn fat, and live a longer life.

Near the end, I'll share with you a sprint training program I'll be using to run faster than Usain Bolt (6).

That being said, why should you consider adding sprint training to your workout routine?

There are a few reasons...

Sprinting Can Help You Build Muscle

Sprinters require explosive power and speed that's achieved through having more fast-twitch muscle fibers.

These types of fibers generate more force leading to the development of more muscle mass over endurance-style training.

On top of this, higher intensity fast-twitch style type of training produces more testosterone and growth hormone.

This is especially true of sprinters with increases seen of up to 700% in growth hormone production (1).

This reminds me of a video I posted recently to X about a 67-year-old man who could sprint faster than most 20-year-olds:

Keep in mind that in the video, you can tell that he had been training for quite some time.

Also, he had a good foundation of muscle, which he probably already had before he started training for sprints.

Regardless, this type of training is a net positive for the retention and building of muscle.

Sprinting Can Help You Burn Fat

Sprinting is one of the best types of cardio to burn fat partly due to its ability to retain muscle and boost growth hormone but that's not all.

Sprint training has been shown to lead to a 40% higher reduction in body fat percentage compared to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) while spending 60% less time in training (2)(3).


Sprint training is actually a type of HIIT but different in the sense that you are giving close to 100% of your effort.

Because of this intervals are shorter and the rest periods are longer, which you'll see in my sprint training program further into the article.

Sprinting Can Help You Become A Better Athlete

Training for sprints can increase explosiveness and high-intensity endurance, which will translate well into almost every physical activity you do.

It does this by increasing the strength and efficiency of your spinal engine, which is the communication between your lower body and upper body.

The Spinal Engine theory explains that the spine is not just a supportive structure but our primary engine of locomotion. 

Sprinting emphasizes the spine's movements, particularly its ability to flex, extend, and rotate, which are fundamental to walking and running (5).

Sprinting Can Help You Living Longer

One of the best ways to live longer is to increase your V02 max.

The biggest correlation with those who live the longest is their V02 max​ (4).

Sprint interval training is a great way to boost your V02 max and when done in the way I'm about to teach you it can be a great tool to delay the aging process.

How To Use Sprinting To Burn Fat And Live Longer

At the time of writing this article, I am 44 and in good shape. But I also know that doing something as intense as sprints can be a shock to the body if I’m not smart about it.

So here is the sprint training program I'm doing to live longer, stay lean, and keep myself injury-free:

IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT attempt to do this type of training if you are de-conditioned, dealing with health issues/injuries/chronic pain, or overweight. The body needs to be conditioned first before training at high intensities.
​
If that's you I’d suggest using a program like 
Lean Body 90 or reading the articles on my website to get prepped for intense exercise.



Rules For Sprinting

  1. Choose a safe sprinting venue, and if necessary train with other like-minded people
  2. Build a strength and aerobic base before commencing sprint training. Specifically, devote time to strengthening your hamstrings and calves, as these are the muscles most prone to injury when sprinting.
  3. Don’t sprint when tired or dehydrated.
  4. Always perform a pre-sprint ​warm-up​.
  5. Always include some warm-up sprints at 40%, 60%, and 75% of effort.
  6. Sprint at 85% of your maximal effort, not 100%. This is important, especially for people training over the age of 35. It's better to leave some effort in the tank than to go all out. This prevents injury.
  7. Do not sprint when injured. Stop immediately if injured during training.
  8. Start easy and build gradually.

Sprinting Form

  1. Run tall with your head, neck, and shoulders in line with your hips.
  2. Move your arms front-to-back; don't let them cross your torso.
  3. Keep your elbows bent 90 degrees.
  4. Let your feet land directly beneath you; don't try to step too far forward.
  5. Feel as though you are pushing hard off of the ground
  6. Run with a high knee lift.

To learn more about sprinting form read this article by Out Perform Sports.


My Training Program For Sprint Training

  1. I start the workout off with a 5-10 minute jog or some other light warm-up to increase my core body temperature.
  2. I will do some light mobility work (listed above) to prep my joints for the workout. Here's one I'm using:
    ​
    Here's one I'm using:
    1. Heel kicks 20 per leg Toe Touch (or as close to toe touch as your mobility permits)
    2. 20 Upward Front Kick 10 per leg
    3. Cossack Groin Stretch 10 per leg
    4. After this, I perform a few light jogs to thoroughly warm up the hamstring, hips, and calves.

  3. I'll do 4-5 sprints at an intensity of 85% of my max exertion with 4-5 minute rests in between.
  4. I'll finish my workouts with a light cooldown using a walk, light stretching, and breathing exercises to bring my body back to a parasympathetic (rest and recovery) mode.

Here's a sample training split I'll use for sprint training courtesy of Run Repeat Run:

It says 12 weeks but I condensed it down to 9 as I don't want to train 3 days a week for sprints.

As I train I'll work up to sprinting through the use of progressive overload.

This means I'll be tracking my workouts and progress. This also means I'll be timing my sprints as well as tracking the level of intensity/rate of exertion.

I'll be training for sprints using a track preferably one with level grass or turf to decrease the stress on my joints.

As I progress, I can do this on the beach using the sand as this will ease the stress on my joints and make the training harder on my core.

An Important Note For This Article

The first principle of every single training program above the age of 35 is to make sure you stay injury-free. When doing sprint training we want to do it in a way that is both safe and effective.

Again, I do not recommend this for anyone who is de-conditioned, dealing with injuries/chronic pain, or overweight. You need to get the body right before putting high levels of intensity on it.

Ready, Set, Go!

Sprint Interval Training (SIT) is great for building muscle, burning fat, becoming a better athlete, and living longer. The best part is it doesn't require a gym and can be done outside.

But like most types of training, it does not come without risk. Tread softly and train yourself up gradually. Take your time.

Due to the nature of this training, it's a great strategy to get clearance from a health professional before beginning any type of SIT training especially if you're dealing with preexisting health conditions or injuries.

My sprint training journey is about to start and I can't wait to take you along for the journey.

Onwards and upwards 🚀

- Dan


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References

  1. Gray, A.B., Telford, R.D. & Weidemann, M.J. Endocrine response to intense interval exercise. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 66, 366–371 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00237784​
  2. Islam H, Townsend LK, Hazell TJ. Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption and Fat Utilization Following Submaximal Continuous and Supramaximal Interval Running. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2018 Dec;89(4):450-456. doi: 10.1080/02701367.2018.1513633. Epub 2018 Oct 16. PMID: 30325710.
  3. Tong TK, Zhang H, Shi H, Liu Y, Ai J, Nie J, Kong Z. Comparing Time Efficiency of Sprint vs. High-Intensity Interval Training in Reducing Abdominal Visceral Fat in Obese Young Women: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Front Physiol. 2018 Aug 3;9:1048. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01048. eCollection 2018. PubMed PMID: 30123136; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6085472.
  4. Strasser B, Burtscher M. Survival of the fittest: VO2max, a key predictor of longevity? Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2018 Mar 1;23(8):1505-1516. doi: 10.2741/4657. PMID: 29293447.
  5. Gracovetsky SA, Iacono S. Energy transfers in the spinal engine. J Biomed Eng. 1987 Apr;9(2):99-114. doi: 10.1016/0141-5425(87)90020-3. PMID: 3573762.
  6. This is obviously a joke but I'm a dad so I should get a hall pass.

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