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Run like the wind: Why we like sprint training

There’s HIIT, and then there’s SMIIT, oh, and there’s also this thing called Tabata, too.


Don’t worry about it. You’re not the only one. These terms all refer to types of high intensity training that can give you results as fast, or even faster, in a shorter time, than conventional cardiovascular exercise. Instead of plodding away for 45-60 minutes on a treadmill or elliptical, or with a slogging jog on your local bike paths, the idea is that you can get great results with even just a few minutes of intense physical activity, a few times a week.

Remember wind sprints?

We are personally fans of one form – sprint training. Back in high school, they called this wind sprints.

With sprints, it’s easy to push only so hard as you are able, given your current state of fitness, and build from there. It’s as simple as run hard for 30 seconds, walk for 30, and then repeat. Start with doing that five times. Next time, try to do it six times, pushing yourself just as hard each time. You might be surprised how effective this can be to drive your fat loss and improve your cardiovascular capacity.

With the spring weather here, another way to do it is head to your local soccer field. Run the length of the field as hard as you can, then walk back as your rest. Work up to doing this 10 times. Remember, your only rest throughout is the walk back to your starting point.

This isn’t just about cardio and fat burn. Sprinting recruits big muscles – your legs, your glutes, and your abs. These muscles get a much more intensive workout from sprinting than they will from walking or jogging at a constant pace.

Sprinting isn’t a lengthy workout, but it is a demanding one. Make sure you spend 10 minutes warming up and stretching out first to make sure you don’t pull something.

So what is HIIT, SMIT and Tabata?

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. Sprint training is a form of HIIT. But you can take any exercise that recruits big muscles and pushes your cardiovascular capacity – running, squatting, leg presses on a machine, what have you. This is about volume – not how much weight you can move. Do the exercise almost as hard as you can for 20-40 seconds, then rest or do it an easy pace to recover for 20 or 30 seconds. Repeat as often as you want.

SMIT stands for supramaximal interval training. It’s similar to HIIT, but with higher intensity intervals and longer rest periods. You do exercise as hard as you possibly can for that intense interval, and rest (really rest) for up to two or three minutes.

Tabata is a form of HIIT that was developed for competitive athletes. It’s not for the faint of heart or the beginner. It consists of eight rounds of ultra-high-intensity exercises in a specific 20-seconds-on, 10-seconds-off interval.

Find what works for you

This kind of training should be combined with a routine of resistance/weight training to also build lean muscle mass. As we’ve said before, the more lean muscle mass your body has, the faster it burns energy for weight control, even while you’re sleeping.

Which means the most effective fitness routine is one that combines resistance training to build muscle, with some form of cardiovascular training, such as sprint training. Four workouts a week, two and two, is a good place to start.

*Please consult with your family Doctor before engaging in any new fitness routine to be certain it is right for you.*

0 Join the Conversation

  1. Beth MacQuarrie says
    Mar 30, 2016 at 2:21 AM

    Good article. I had seen some of these acronyms recently but did not know what they meant. I have just started a run/walk program at much lower intensity. One minute running to four minutes walking to start because I am so out of shape! (or rather, in the wrong shape lol) Thanks for the info!

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