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400m Sprints for 3 Mile Training While Bulking


I'm in an interesting position in that I'm trying to "bulk" and add muscle mass, but I'm still required to run 3 miles as part of a semi-annual PT test. Running has always been my strength, my last 3 mile time was 17:30, and 21:00 minutes is the standard for the test, so I can afford to lose a little time. I used to run 4-5 times a week, usually intervals once a week and then 3-4 tempo runs of 4-6 miles a week. Now that I'm focusing on adding muscle mass, I've decided to drop the tempo runs and do intervals 2 times a week, and 2 days of conditioning with the prowler a week. I just want to make sure that my running isn't interfering with my gains. For example, today I ran the following intervals on the track:

4x400m, 3:00 interval
4x200m, 1:30 interval
10x100m, 1:00 interval
6x25m, :45 interval

This is a pretty standard interval workout for me. As far as the prowler work goes I typically do 8-10 30m pushes w/ lighter weight (i.e. 110-120lbs) and sometimes add in some shuttle sprints or farmers carries with it.

Any thoughts? Thanks.


Half mile intervals work better for 5k than the quarter.


Well my first thoughts are; that is a hell a lot of sprinting.

Usually one round of 4 x 400m, or 8-10 x 100m, is enough to leave me gasping for my life, and takes a good 1-2 whole days to recover from.

Are you sprinting, or just running faster than normal?



I'd say it's more running fast; that's what I have done for interval training in the past coming from a more endurance focused background. I keep the 400m splits consistent at 1:10 - 1:12, probably about 90% effort. One of the deficiencies I see in my interval programming when I write it out is that the shorter, more intense sprints (50m, 100m) are done at the end of the session, when I am already fatigued. That's probably something I would want to change.

But as far as training specifically for my goal, I think that keeping the rest intervals relatively short and the intensity more at 90% of max effort will translate better to maintaining my 3 mile time. I do sometimes do sprint sessions where I'm just doing 100's and 50's and taking a longer rest which allows me to give closer to 100% effort each time.


Agreed. Today's session was:

2x800m 5:00 interval, (2:45, 2:44)
4x400m 3:00 interval, (1:11, 1:12, 1:12, 1:13)
4x200m 1:30 interval, (:33, :32, :33, :34)
6x100m :45 interval
6x50m :45 interval

The 800's are killer.

I've read the sprinting articles on this site, they all talk about sprinting being the ultimate conditioning method. I'm just curious how running longer intervals at 80-90% of max effort stacks up against shorter sprints, higher intensity and longer rest intervals?


If your goal is adding muscle mass I think you should cut way back on your running volume. As you said running is a strength for you. Imo 17:30 is a very good time and you can afford to give up a lot and still be under the standard you have to meet. I think if you continue running 2 days a week but cut the volume in half you will have more metabolic resources available for growth and your 3 mile time will only slow down a little due to increased mass not so much because of loss of conditioning. Half the conditioning you are doing now is still plenty.

How much conditioning are you doing on your prowler days? I have a hunch it's quite a lot also.


IF the test is only semi-annual, I would back off the running quite a bit, and focus on bulk and strength. Then about a month out, start adding in more intervals and longer runs. Its easy to get in decent running shape in just a few weeks if you have been there before. I used to run 10+ years ago, and about 2 yrs ago was visiting my mom, and she was doing a 5k fun run. I said "what the hell" and signed up the week before. I did two runs that week, and ran a 22:31 time. Not record setting, but I had ran two times in the previous few years, and both were the week before. Given 3-4 weeks, and I could have hit around 20 minutes.


Yeah, what I decided on is short, high intensity sprinting (25m, 50m, 100m, shuttle sprints) on Tuesday, no weights that day, and then longer, tempo intervals (400, 800m) on Thursday, also no weights that day. Saturdays I either do an easy 4mi run or about 25 minutes of hill sprints.

My prowler conditioning is usually around 10 pushes, I sometimes pair them with another exercise like farmer's carry, front squats for high reps, KB swings, things like that. Those sessions usually take around 15-20 minutes of non-stop work.

I have to admit, the idea of bulking is new to me, and being someone who has always been very lean, I don't like the idea of gaining unnecessary body fat. But, I'm starting to understand that in order to get bigger and stronger you have to accept that you will gain a little fat, even on the cleanest of bulks. I'm coming to terms with that. I'm keeping the conditioning in place though, because, frankly, I like being well conditioned. I don't like the idea of getting winded walking up the stairs to my apartment.


Agreed, OP I take it you're a marine. 17:30 is wicked fast in the marine corps and you only need to run less than 18:00 to get your 100pts. But if gaining mass is your goal then id ease off on the running in general. Sprints are good but they should be short and sweet because longer sprints burn a lot of calories which are needed for weight training and recovery. IME, since I was formally with a marine unit, as long as my cardio was up and my BF% was down I could still hang in the 19s. Did very little running though. I hate running and so do my feet, knees, and hips. Short 40-100yd sprints and various type of HIIT during cutting phases and i was good to go. Hows the rest of your testing looking? 20 pull-ups and 100 sit ups im hoping.


Air Force actually. My career-field takes a different PT test than most of the AF, I think they do a 1.5mi run. But yeah, I've pretty much eliminated any sustained aerobic activity. One day a week I do short sprints (25-100m) and one day a week I do slightly longer ones (200-800m). I'm the same way as you, as long as I don't get fat and do my conditioning I can gut out a sub 20:00 3 mile since I'm naturally a pretty decent runner.

My upper body strength is average at best. Best PT test scores are 15 pulls, 71 push-ups, 82 sit-ups.


That's still decent for your height and weight. And you don't have to eliminate aerobic training completely, just a lot less of it. Like doing some light cardio on an off day is fine. Running has been the issue with me since I'm shorter and really can't stand running for prolonged periods of time. Just hit the upper body hard and eat right and the strength should come. There are countless programs on here great for strength and mass building. So pick one that best matches your goals. Make sure your diet is in check. Train hard and eat. Good luck to you and your career in the Air Force.


Thanks a lot, I appreciate it! I'm currently 4 weeks into Eric Cressey's Maximum Strength program. It's going well! Learning a lot, and feeling stronger. I've also gained about 2lbs since starting. Sweetness! Best of luck to you, as well!


Thats whats ups man. I love hearing and seeing people progress to acheive their goals. It's always inspiring since I know the feeling. Once you've achieved a certain goal, you will find a new one. I'll never be satisfied. Always room for improvement.


Thanks man! People like you are the reason I like this website so much. I appreciate the encouragement!


This seems like a solid thread to ask a question on. Marine as well, I'm coming off injury so I'm working on returning to running. Doc said to pick any C25K program I wanted and run that out to "learn to run again". The injury was foot related so I have inserts and all that which require changing running style and such. I've got about 5 weeks left of learning to run again and then its training time. Trying to figure out which route to take for improving not only my 3 mile run, but also the 880 required for the CFT now.

I also have low testosterone I'm battling at the moment, so long aerobic sessions are not real great for me. I lift 2 days a week 5/3/1 split. I'm thinking about doing 2 days of conditioning in the form of the RECON short card and sprints, then 1 day of a solid 3ish mile run. May jump in the pool for some laps after a conditioning day mid week just for fun as well. Any input would be great. Thanks!


If you just jump into the hard intervals you're just going tho get hurt again. I have discovered the joys of cross training on the arc trainer as the max incline, max resistance and no impact corrects the chronic pain and patern abuse my scrappy runs I by form was causing. I literally do my run, only one Intel day a week and never hard I have to walk for recovery, for 30 mins or so in the 130-149bon range. Then I hit the arc trainer to get my left ass check firing again. I read a book and kill the time. My squat is going really now that I'm not killing my legs with speed work.


Water running. No impact, all benefits. Amazing recovery tool.