All the Benefits of Interval Sprint Running — and 2 Sessions to Get You Started

Fitness

Young woman running training in the city

True or false: you don’t have to be a seasoned runner to love interval sprint workouts.

Believe it or not, the answer is true. Interval sprinting is often more manageable than long-distance running because it prioritizes short bursts and plenty of rest periods.

“An interval sprint workout is a structured series of short, intense bursts of faster-paced running used to tap into your anaerobic strength and challenge your cardiovascular output to a higher degree than slower long-distance runs,” Darren Tomasso, an ACE-certified personal trainer, NASM-certified corrective exercise specialist, and the director of Training at The Session NYC, says.

Sprinting is very different from long-distance running, as it requires different body outputs. Tomasso’s example: a longer, steadier effort can quickly exhaust your cardiovascular system before challenging your muscles.

Since sprinting requires your “fast-twitch” muscle fibers to engage and contract in each circuit, Tomasso adds that the demand efficiently creates lean muscles — throughout your glutes and core, especially.

“While running is itself a cardiovascular activity, the faster and harder you run for shorter amounts of time, the more anaerobic it becomes, and the faster you will get at longer distances.”

The sprinting benefits hardly end there — just like HIIT, this formula of short bursts followed by rest periods can help you burn calories and increase fat-burning potential.

Just keep in mind that knee, hip, and lower back pain are common injuries runners face — but some “prehab” can help.

“Prehab is essentially rehab, but before you get injured: mobilizing tight or overused joints and tissues (thoracic spine, hips, and quads) and strengthening certain muscle groups that may be slightly imbalanced or weaker,” Tomasso shares.

That’s why it’s best for sprinter newbies to start small and progress weekly. Listen to your body, and adjust your total running volume (distance ran during a workout) and intensity (how hard you are running), if needed.

“Pay attention to your body’s signals, and give yourself adequate time to recover, rest, and relax in-between training sessions. When in doubt [regarding pain], seek out a medical professional or licensed physical therapist.”

When trying Tomasso’s two-day interval sprint workout ahead, adjust as needed, and remember to get 2-3 rest days in a week.

Warmup

Your warmup is part of your workout routine, so make sure you’re sweating, but not exhausting yourself.

“Start with a lap around the track or a two-minute jog. Then, go into some dynamic stretches like , quad pulls, hamstring scoops, and reverse and forward lunges for about 10 reps per leg for each exercise,” Tomasso says.

“Then, activate your core and glutes with low planks, side planks, bird dogs, and glute bridges for about 30 seconds on each side.”

Tomasso suggests finishing your warmup with drills like A-skips, B-skips, high knees, and heel kicks for 20 seconds each.

Workout Day One

  • At a 7-8 intensity, sprint 200 meters or for 60 seconds (about a half lap around a track), then lightly jog for 100 meters or 60 seconds (a quarter lap), and then rest (walk) for 2-3 minutes — repeat this circuit four times.
  • At an 8-9 intensity, sprint 100 meters or for 30 seconds, then lightly jog for 100 meters or 60 seconds, and then rest for 2-3 minutes — repeat this circuit four times.
  • At an 8-9 intensity, sprint 50 meters or for 15 seconds (about a half of a straightaway), lightly jog 100 meters or for 60 seconds (a quarter lap), and then rest for 2-3 minutes — repeat this circuit four times.

Workout Day Two

  • Sprint 100 meters (quarter lap) or for 30 seconds.
  • Complete 10 jump squats.
  • Complete 10 push-ups.
  • Complete 20 walking lunges.
  • Complete 20 seconds of mountain climbers.
  • Repeat this circuit 4-5 times with 2-3 minutes of rest between each set — or more as needed.

Cooldown

“Cool down with a slow tempo 400-meter lap. Then, follow it with deep breathing and stretches to relax your nervous system. You can take the same mobility drills from your warmup, but hold each for 10-20 seconds,” Tomasso says.

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