Have you ever considered sprinting to be an awesome, high-intensity exercise? While some people dread running, sprinting takes less time and can bring some incredible health benefits with it. Sprinting is a quick, convenient, and effective workout, contributing to heart and brain health, weight loss, stamina, strength building, and more. However, diving headfirst into sprinting exercises is neither safe nor reasonable. Preparing adequately to begin sprinting can help you reap the most benefits from the exercise while avoiding serious injury. This is how you can get started as a sprinter, keeping in mind the benefits/risks associated with the high-intensity exercise.

Getting started as a sprinter

Sprinting is one of the most heart-healthy, fat-burning, emotionally-stimulating and endurance-building exercises out there. It’s no wonder that more and more people are turning to sprints as a quick yet effective method of exercise in their busy routines. However, while you may be eager to dive right into sprinting, you can’t simply begin sprinting by going out and giving it your best. If you don’t adequately prepare to take up sprinting, you may end up seriously injuring yourself. So, what do you have to do to get started as a sprinter? First, you need to consider your current weekly physical activity. Are you an avid exerciser? Or do you spend most days sitting down? If you answered the latter, you’ll need to initially invest in a lower-stress workout routine to build up the sort of strength and stamina it takes to begin sprinting.

Sprinting isn’t a “lose weight quick” or “one and done” exercise with instant results. Sprinting requires intense physical and mental force, and if you aren’t working out regularly, sprinting isn’t a great place to start. Building a low-intensity aerobic routine and improving your health/stamina over an extended period of time is necessary to begin sprinting in a safe and healthy manner. If you’re already in good physical shape, sprinting may be a perfect way to grow even stronger and healthier. However, it’s also necessary to consider that sprinting should not be your everyday or regular workout. Since it is such a high-intensity exercise, it should be mixed in with your other workouts and only performed when you’re feeling 100% energized and prepared. Infrequent sprinting paired with a good workout routine is much healthier than constant sprinting that will burn you out and open you up to the possibility of severe injury.

Before you sprint, it’s vital to warm-up. Without a warm-up, you’re increasing your chances of quick fatigue, muscular injury, and difficulty burning fat. A good sprinting warm-up is a light aerobic/cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or jogging lightly for about 10 minutes. Stretching your quads, hips, thighs, and other parts of your legs are also necessary before sprinting due to the high demand that sprinting places on your muscles. Even after you stretch and warm-up, you may not be ready for a session of sprints. One way to test out if you’re prepared or not is by doing “wind sprints,” or sprints where you kick off strong, reach maximum speed/intensity for a second, then slow completely down. If this leaves you feeling winded and fatigued, you might want to stick to lower-intensity aerobic exercises for the day.

The best sprinting workout routine follows one pattern: explosive sprints that are short in duration. After sprinting for 10 seconds, elevated levels of toxic ammonia that are produced in your body and your cells (especially those in your brain) begin to break down. This results in negative physical consequences such as fatigue, exhaustion, and brain fog for days after your sprint. Beginner/novice sprinters should never sprint longer than 10 seconds at a time, while more advanced sprinters can go up to no more than 20 seconds at a time. Additionally, all sprinters should take long breaks in between each sprint, never trying to do sprints back-to-back. Anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes is optimal for recovery time between sprints. At most, sprinters should be doing between 4-10 sprinting reps during a sprinting workout (and resting periods should take up most of your workout), never pushing their body too hard during a single session. While this may sound like a lot of effort to put in for such a quick workout, the benefits in comparison to other forms of exercise are tenfold.

Benefits and risks of sprinting

Fortunately, despite the need for thoughtful preparation, sprinting has a plethora of health benefits. Since sprinting is an anaerobic exercise and boosts the synthesis of protein and the development of hormones in your body, the workout will help you build up muscle, increasing your strength, speed, and power over time. Additionally, in comparison to running or jogging, sprinting has been shown to be the most effective anaerobic exercise for weight loss. If you’re a fan of cardio exercises, sprinting will help you build up stamina and endurance over time that benefits all other workouts you do. Cardio exercise is often advertised as being highly heart-healthy and sprinting is one of the most effective forms of cardio contributing to long-term heart health. Sprinting doesn’t simply lower blood pressure or boost your circulation; it also strengthens the blood-pumping left chamber of your heart and minimizes your risk of developing deadly heart disease. The high-intensity exercise also fights the risk of developing type II diabetes, as it depletes excessive stores of glucose and boosts insulin levels. Sprinting is also convenient and quick in comparison to other exercises, as it can be performed almost anywhere where there’s enough room to sprint and takes substantially less time than a long jog or run. It eliminates any excuses not to get out and do a stress-relieving, mentality-boosting workout due to your busy schedule. Speaking of stress-relieving — sprinting is very friendly to your mental health, helping increase your focus, obliterate your anxiety, and produce emotional and mental resilience to life’s traumas. 

However, while there are many benefits to sprinting, beginners certainly shouldn’t try it out without preparation. People who sprint in an incorrect manner can seriously injure themselves, burnout, and negatively impact their physical health. One of the risks of sprinting is developing severe fatigue, as undertrained muscles can’t handle the high pressure placed on them during a sprint. Since your muscles are expected to perform to their maximum during a sprint, a lack of strength training will leave your body aching and exhausted. There is also the possibility of muscle and joint strain, as sprinting demands more from your muscular system than regular jogging or running does. Although sprinting is notoriously heart-healthy, the sudden increase in heart rate associated with sprinting isn’t beneficial for everyone. Those with pre-existing heart conditions, heart disease, or other heart-related medical issues are more at risk to harm their cardiovascular system while out for a sprint. In order to avoid these serious physical consequences, ensure that you are adequately prepared to begin sprinting. This includes pre-sprinting training, strength training, warming up before sprinting, taking long recovery periods when you first start sprinting and being conscious of your body’s needs at all times. If you’re concerned that you may not be able to take up sprinting, it’s worth talking to your doctor to find out if sprinting could be a viable workout option for you.