When it comes to ‘doing cardio’ there are very few people who look forward to it, especially if your goal is to build muscle and achieve a lean physique.
Boring, tenuous steady-state cardio is not something worthy of highlighting in the diary. In truth, excessive cardio training can put too much stress on your body and potentially has more negative effects than positive.
It is a wonder why more people do not perform anaerobic sprints and explosive speed drills. On the scale of benefits, sprinting outweighs aerobic cardiovascular training every time.
Lose More Fat
Without getting overly technical and scientific, sprint training ensures that more of the carbohydrates that you eat are partitioned and stored in the muscles, rather than as fat. Alongside burning more calories, sprinting also boosts the amount of certain enzymes in the body. These enzymes encourage the body to store more calories within the muscles rather than as fat storage.
Sprints are also a more effective fat burner than steady-state cardio according to a study in 1994 entitled ‘Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism’, in which participants took part in either 20 weeks of aerobic training or 15 weeks of interval training. The interval group lost over 8 times as much body fat.
Increase Strength & Build Muscle
As your body fat percentage descends, your bone strength and density increases with sprint training. In addition, anaerobic training helps the body to build new muscle tissue and increases the strength of your muscles.
Sprint training employs and increases the size of the type II fast-glycolytic muscle fibres, which are the bigger and more powerful type of muscle fibre in the body. Protein synthesis is also increased. Providing your diet is correct you will see muscle gain and a leaner physique.
Sprinting is very taxing on the body and requires a high-level of intensity. This intensity cannot be maintained for a prolonged period of time, therefore the optimal amount of time for a sprinting session is around 20 minutes. It will be a tough, painful 20 minutes, however the benefits your body will reap in that short space of time outweighs even an hour of steady-state cardio.
Performing sprints increases the body’s endurance –believe it or not! Despite being an anaerobic exercise, sprinting increases the body’s ability to store oxygen. A 2011 study by Macpherson and Hazell found that sprinting is more effective at improving endurance capacity than steady-state cardio.
All forms of exercise have been proven to reap some form of mental benefits and improve mood. Sprinting, however, blows them all out of the water. It improves hormone balance and decreases brain inflammation making you feel invigorated and energised.
Regardless of your physical goals, any active person can benefit more from sprint training. Try adding it into your exercise regimen and evaluate the results after a period of time. The majority of people would like to either improve mood and brain function, lose some body fat or build some extra muscle. It seems this super-exercise is a must-do with advantages for everybody, yet people are still sticking to the watching-paint-dry 60 minutes jogs – very bizarre!
This post was written by Joe Hurley a senior writer at HFE, the fitness course experts.