T Nation

Muscles Feel Smaller?


Having added in hill sprints to my training programme recently, I’m convinced that my muscles are beginning to feel less ‘rounded’, prominent and defined than when I was on a primarily weights-oriented routine. Would you generally say that this can be disregarded as psychological, if my strength and lifting performance is not reduced? Is strength standards an unequivocal way of ruling out these body image questions?


You’ve added sprints (which is great) to your training but have you added anything to your nutrition or recovery? Maybe it’s as simple as glycogen depletion from the added high intensity work and you need to eat more to restore that post-workout.

This is just a guess fun me though. It seems carbs, water, and muscle fullness seem to be related.


Thanks for your reply. My nutrition is built around ‘gym’ days and ‘rest’ days, with higher calories on gym days. On sprints days I’ve been eating like ‘gym’ days, but perhaps that’s not enough to cover the added metabolic burn. Would a 30-40 minute sprint session require more nutrition than a weights session?


That depends on your weight sessions. If you do anything fasted or with low carbs pre-workout that is high intensity then you’ll deplete your glycogen stores. If you consume carbs pre-workout then you can spare your glycogen stores.

If you don’t do a lot of burnouts or stressful lifting then your sprinting could be more demanding in terms of glycogen usage.

You can train hard in the weight room and limit your glycogen or carb needs by resting between sets. Think high intensity interval training vs. resting 2-3 minutes between sets.


Sprint sessions should be for maximum effort/short time. Let’s say you do something like 6x40 yards as your workout. This should take ~10-12 minutes. Even with three warm up sprints, you’re at 15 minutes max. That should be it.

You’re turning these into a cardio/conditioning workout and that’s likely why your muscles seem smaller. Doing too many sprints or sprints that are too long in distance means you’ve turned an explosive workout into an endurance workout.


They are…


To piggyback @antiquity, my good sprint workouts went like this:

10 min dynamic warmup–jog 400m, walking lunges, knee hug stretch, leg swings, hurdle step-overs, and 2-3 build up sprints. I kept moving and went back and forth on the 100m stretch of a track. I’d alternate between a dynamic movement and light jog til I made 3 passes on the track, then did my 3 100m build ups. At this point I’d covered 1000m in about 10-12 min.

Now for the workout: Sprint 100m X 5 with 60 seconds rest. Goal time was 16 sec or less. Rest 5 minutes and repeat. Every week or two I’d drop a second off the goal time. Never went below 14 seconds though.

That type of sprint workout should take you 30 minutes or so but it’s structured and the rest is required to perform fast enough to call it sprinting.

My current sprints are typically done indoors now. My gym has a track with 80-90m straightways and about 30m curves. I run fast on the straights (bout 14-16 sec) and walk the curve and repeat. My rest ends up being about 60-80 seconds. I’ll do 6-10 fast runs depending on the day. As you can see I’m not in very good shape now compared to my track workouts. That’s why I call them fast runs instead of sprints. The indoor running takes about 12 minutes if I do 8 runs and walk 1 lap to cool down (6 laps=1 mile).

Hope that helps you see a couple different sprinting type workouts and their duration. My track sprints were to get me faster; my current stuff is for conditioning.