When you think of runners chances are you picture those skinny men and women you see out in all weather, with little or no muscle.
They might be great at running, but they don’t have the type of physique you want.
However, if you have ever watched the springing events at the Olympics you probably noticed something unexpected – the guys are huge!
In fact, the average sprinter has far more muscle mass than the average lifter.
Why are these guys so big? Why are distance runners so skinny?
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As it turns out, it has to do with the way they train and the needs of their particular sport.
While sprinters might focus on training their legs, they build mass everywhere so this will definitely help you out even if your focus is on building a great upper body.
Adding Sprints to Your Training Routine
Just like any exercise, when it comes to adding sprinting to your training routine you want to make sure you warm up properly.
That means training at lower intensity levels for a few sets to get your body ready for the tough workout ahead.
Unless you were a sprinter in high school or just like to run a lot, chances are sprinting is not something your body is used to and as a result it will put a ton of stress on your cardiovascular system.
Start your first set at about 50% of your maximum speed and work your way up to the point where you are doing 80-90% of your maximum speed.
In terms of the timing of your sprint workout – that will depend on what your specific training goals are.
If your goal is to get stronger and bigger then do your sprints after you train legs or even later in the day so it doesn’t interfere with your squats.
If you are doing resistance training in the morning, then do your sprinting in the afternoon.
One important thing to note, however, is not to do sprinting in the morning and lifting in the afternoon or evening.
This simply does not provide enough time for your body to recover properly. Remember – lifting weights is always the top priority.
Another thing worth mentioning is that you should not sprint for hours.
This activity takes a lot of effort and puts a lot of stress on your body, so keep your sprinting workouts to under 20 minutes.
If you stretch your sprint workouts to an hour chances are towards the end you will no longer be sprinting – you’ll be jogging.
Now, just because you aren’t having long workouts doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing them frequently.
Feel free to do your sprint workout 3 times per week as long as it doesn’t interfere with your lifting.
If it’s time for your third sprinting workout of the week and you are feeling exhausted, maybe take the night off if you have a resistance training session the next morning.
Your individual training and recovery capabilities will determine how often and how intensely you can train.
When you are ready to increase the intensity of your sprinting workouts, simply increase the distance you are sprinting per heat, rather than the number of heats you do.
The total distance travelled shouldn’t go far above 2,000 yards.
Just like your resistance training program you will want to keep a log of your sprint workouts.
Intensity Levels when Training
In terms of the actual intensity of your workouts, there is no need to go above 90% of your maximum capacity.
In fact, most professional sprinters only train at full speed under 10% of the time in order to reduce the likelihood of injury and give their bodies a break.
Make sure you are running on a smooth track with good shoes and lots of space to slow down and stop.
The last thing you want it to trip on a bad course or not have enough room to stop safely.
The injury won’t just keep you off the racetrack – it will also keep you out of the gym.
A solid guideline to follow with your workouts is as follows: the shorter the distance you are sprinting, the faster you can go.
In terms of just how far you should be running: that’s up to you.
Make it long enough to be challenging but not too far that you feel like you are going to throw up.
Sprint training is a lot like resistance training: push yourself too far, for too long, and you will end up spiking your cortisol levels and losing muscle mass.
Mixing Things Up
If you start to get tired of sprinting in straight lines you will be happy to know there are a number of ways you can change up the training to make it more interesting.
For starters, you can add in stair sprints (sprinting up a flight of stairs), moving laterally or side to side, etc.
One of the most popular ways to make those sprints more challenging is to add resistance.
Sleds and parachutes are great because it forces your body to work even harder.
The glutes in particular will get a lot of work from this whereas lateral-type movements will work the hip muscles more.
Finally, going up flights of stairs or running uphill will increase the involvement of the calves in the exercise.
As you can see you can actually increase the resistance of your sprint training routine in a way that specifically targets your lagging muscle group!
One important thing to note here is that if you want to maintain high sprint speeds you shouldn’t add too much resistance.
For example, if you are a 200lb male don’t add anything more than 20 pounds.
The reason for this is simply safety – sprinting with extremely heavy weights attached to you is a recipe for disaster.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still try to move the sled quickly – just don’t expect to go at your normal speed while pushing 100+ lbs.
How to Add Weight
Let’s say you decide you want to add weight.
One way you can do that is to wear a weighted vest or sandbags.
Try doing that while running up a hill and your body will be screaming!
If you opt for hand weights, don’t go for anything over 5 pounds.
While it might make you look like one of those housewives running with her friends, it will actually greatly reduce your chance of injury.
You see, running at high speeds with heavy dumbbells in your hands is never a good idea.
Sudden movements will put a lot of stress on your shoulders which could lead to a nasty injury.
If you do decide to run with the weights in your hand, do it on every other set so your shoulders get some much-needed recovery time.
Sprinting and Testosterone Levels
One of the reasons sprinters have such muscular, shredded physiques is because they are doing short bursts of sprints followed by recovery intervals
In other words, they are doing a form of high intensity interval training.
This type of training forces the heart rate to fluctuate a lot which means your body can’t find an efficient way to get through the exercise without burning as many calories. As a result, you end up burning a ton of fat without losing much muscle. However, one of the impacts of sprinting a lot of people are unaware of is the boost of testosterone production.
High intensity interval training is such an effective form of cardio because it encourages your body to produce more testosterone as a response to the stress of training.
However, because you aren’t training for hours on end cortisol levels don’t spike.
This is why sprinters are so muscular while long distance runners look like twigs.
The later regularly sees their cortisol levels spiked and as a result muscle tissue gets broken down.
That’s not to say sprinters aren’t working hard – their workouts are extremely intense however they are much shorter.
How does your body respond to the increased testosterone levels from sprinting?
By holding on to more muscle mass and burning off fat.
Additionally, men with high testosterone levels tend to be more energetic, confident and driven
. In other words, they kick ass.
At this point you are probably thinking what else you can do to increase your testosterone levels.
How to Amplify the Testosterone Boosting Effects of Sprinting
While sprinting alone will boost your t-levels, there are other things you can do to amplify the effect.
First of all, make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
Any less than that and you are missing out on your prime testosterone production time.
What do we mean by that?
Studies have shown that your body produces the most testosterone at night when sleeping.
Hopefully that encourages you not to stay up until 3AM watching YouTube videos!
Second, give your body plenty of time to recover.
This ties in with the previous point
. If you do a sprint training session on Monday morning, don’t do it again on Tuesday.
Your body needs at least 48 hours to recover and sometimes as much as 72 hours.
So rather than doing the second sprint on Tuesday, move it to Wednesday evening!
Third, make sure you are consuming a well-balanced nutritious diet.
You can sprint all you want but if you are going to Burger King for lunch every day your testosterone production will not be optimal.
Instead, eat clean foods and plenty of protein. A
lso, supplement your diet with products that are designed to boost your testosterone production – like a natural testosterone booster.
These products use natural ingredients that are scientifically proven to boost testosterone production and combine them into a convenient supplement form.
Bringing it All Together
If you have recently hit a plateau with your training you should definitely consider adding sprinting to get yourself growing again.
There are a variety of reasons that we hit plateaus, such as low testosterone levels, our bodies becoming familiar with our training or poor diet.
The great thing about sprinting is that it helps correct two of those.
It will fire up the testosterone production as a result of the changing intervals and significant stress it puts on the leg muscles.
It will also shock the muscles into growing by throwing an entirely new way of training at them.
The other great thing about sprinting is that there are tons of ways you can adjust the program to make it more difficult.
You can sprint uphill, add weight to your body, adjust the length of each sprint, etc.
In other words, it will keep your body guessing for month.
While sprint training might not be something your typical meathead will recommend for getting bigger you only need to watch sprinting videos online to change your mind.
All of the top sprinters in the country are muscular and cut.
In fact, they look a hell of a lot better than most of the guys you run into at the gym that are training specifically for aesthetics!