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June 23, 2023

The Power of Sprint Interval Training

sprint interval training
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

What is Sprint Interval Training?

Believe it or not, but you can SIT and improve your health and fitness. SIT refers to sprint interval training which is similar to or HIIT or high intensity interval training with one significant difference.

I know we have written articles that describing sitting as the new smoking in the Hazards of Sitting: Move to Avoid Them and Don’t Sit Yourself to DeathThat is not the type of sitting we are discussing today.

Difference Between SIT and HIIT

High intensity interval training is usually performed at 80 to 85 percent of maximum heart rate, whereas, SIT or sprint interval training is performed close to 100 percent of maximum heart rate. As a result of an all out effort, the rest intervals in SIT are longer, approaching two to three minutes, whereas in HIIT rest intervals can range from 10 seconds to a minute.

The Benefits of SIT

Incorporating sprint interval training into your work outs provides several health and fitness benefits. Sprint interval training has been shown to:

  1. build muscle.
  2. improve hormonal balance.
  3. balance blood sugar.
  4. lower blood pressure.
  5. improve bone density.
  6. reduce body fat.
  7. improve cognition.
  8. improve VO2 max.
  9. improve mitochondrial biogenesis.

That’s lot of benefit for not a lot of total exercise time. In fact, three to four minutes of actual sprint time per week is all that is needed to get these benefits.

We have talked about these benefits in other posts but want to touch up two of them here.

Hormone balance

Sprint interval training improve release of testosterone and growth hormone. Both help build muscle and bone plus growth hormone promotes tissue regeneration and fat burning.

Mitochondrial Biogenesis

The mitochondria are the energy producing organelles in our cells. Mitochondria convert the foods we eat into energy (ATP) our bodies can use. The number of mitochondria per cell vary by cell-type. There can be over 5,000 mitochondria per heart/cardiac cell.

Mitochondria are unique in that they contain their own DNA separate from the DNA found in the cell. Mitochondria can divide and multiple on their own irrespective of cellular division. Sprint interval training is a stimulus for the body to produce more and bigger mitochondrial. This improves overall health and athletic performance.

Who Should SIT?

Sprint interval training is not for everyone but it should be considered by those who are more than a beginner when it comes to exercise, therefore, the intermediate or advanced exerciser. It is ideal for those who are short on time when it comes to exercise and those who like to compete and push themselves.

It is also useful when performance plateaus from a given exercise routine – to shake up your exercise routine.

How to SIT

First, sprints can be done in any number of ways and on any number of exercise machines. You can run/sprint, swim, row, stair climb, fast-paced squats or jumping jacks, jumping rope, etc.

The key is to gradually build up the sprint duration over several weeks.  A sample program is below designed by Mechelle Lewis Freeman and 2008N USA Track and Field Olympian and USA Track and Field Women’s Relay Coach .

First, warm up for five to seven minutes working on the muscle groups you plan on exercising during the sprint component.

1 2 4 10 seconds 3 minutes
2 2 4 10 seconds 2 minutes
3 2 4 15 seconds 3 minutes
4 2 4 15 seconds 2 mintues
5 2 4 20 seconds 3 minutes
6 2 4 20 seconds 2 minutes
7 2 4 25 seconds 3 minutes
8 2 4 25 seconds 2 minutes

Remember, you are trying to apply maximal force during each sprint. A true all out effort requires time to recover. Be sure to rest the 2 to 3 minutes to recover fully for the next sprint of your workout to better maximize your results.

See our other posts on this topic:

What is High Intensity Interval Training.

High Intensity Interval Training: Short and Sweet

Increasing Growth Hormone Release with Sprint 8



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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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