T Nation

Sprints For Speed vs Sprints For Fat Loss

CT I was wondering how differently would you implement sprints for these 2 purposes (building speed vs fat loss)? I imagine for speed/explosiveness you would have shorter all out sprints as compared with longer sprints for fat loss. But what about the number of sprints per workout and number of workouts per week? I’m planning to go by feel, but it’d be great to have a number to shoot for. Thank you

Obviously not CT but a good buddy of mine trains athletes for a living and shared some knowledge with me. When he trains his athletes for pure speed he make sure they are not tired when starting a new sprint. The focus of the workout is to get faster so he allows fully recovery between sprints with an emphasis on technique and improvement of sprint time.

For conditioning sprints work well but shorter rest periods must be implemented. My friends like to run a circuit type conditioning with his athletes such as a 30 yards sprint to tire flip and ending with KB swing. Keeping rest periods low is the key point here.

JT is right on the money… when trying to build maximum speed, the rest intervals are very long. One of my athletes was a bobsleigh guy who wanted to convert to track and got a track coach. I did a few workouts with him (best way to learn) and I was amazed at the length of the rest intervals… I’m talking 5-6 minutes between 60m sprints and about 4 minutes between 30m sprints! The rest wasn’t passive though, we stayed loose doing some easy footing drills and hip swings.

When you compared that with sprints to lose fat, we want incomplete rest. This creates a greater oxygen debt which increases caloric expenditure and also stimulates the release of more fat burning hormones. Rest intervals as short as 30-45 sec. are not uncommon although 60-90 seconds is generally the norm.

Now, when it comes to distance. In a well trained sprinter, top speed is reached at the 60m mark. Now, when you watch the 100m in the olympics you have the illusion that the winner keeps on accelerating at the end when he distance everybody. That is not the case, he is simply losing less speed after the 60m mark. Bolt is probably one of the VERY few sprinters who can accelerate for 70-80m because of his unique combination of stride length and frequency.

So if you want to build maximum speed distances ranging from 30 to 60m are best. Over 60m you develop the capacity to maintain your speed and under 30m you mostly build your start and initial acceleration.

When it comes to losing fat, slightly longer sprints are the norm. 100-200m are probably ideal for most… 400m are amazing at burning fat (see my running man article) BUT you need to have a very solid conditioning base to do a 400m sprint and not a fast jog and the average person would need 5-6 minutes to be able to go again, which is kinda against the point.

The next variable is volume. Speed is VERY neurally dependant. As such, even the slightest neural fatigue will lead to a decrease in performance. It might not be a huge thing, but for someone who wants to get as fast as possible, doing sprint work even in a state of slight CNS fatigue can be detrimental. 6 top speed sprints in a workout is a very high workload for a sprinter. Normally we are talking about 2-4 sprints at roughly 85-90% and 2-3 ar 90-100%.

When trying to lose fat you do not have the same limitation and a higher volume of work will lead to more fat loss. Of course if performance degrades too much then you are likely doing more harm than good.

Finally there is the frequency of practice. A TRUE maximum speed workout (going all out on a sprint) has a huge impact on the CNS. As such most sprinters can do 1 or sometimes 2 such sessions per week. They do more running sessions than that, but the other 3-5 days are form running (70-80%) and submaximal running (80-90%) efforts not all out ones.

When trying to lose fat you can do sprints at a slightly higher frequency, but I would still monitor how you are feeling because a hard fat-loss/conditioning sprint session expend a ton of energy and can lead to an energy crash if overdone.

Wow. Awesome info CT. I never thought sprints could be that CNS taxing, considering there’s so many programs out there that call for all out sprints every other day…

How should I schedule my sprint workouts around my lower body lifting days? Same day, day before, or day after?

gotta love when someone asks a great question and we get such a useful answer.

[quote]pndpmt wrote:
Wow. Awesome info CT. I never thought sprints could be that CNS taxing, considering there’s so many programs out there that call for all out sprints every other day…

How should I schedule my sprint workouts around my lower body lifting days? Same day, day before, or day after? [/quote]

I always believed that when including sprints (all out short sprints to build speed) it is best to do them the same day(s) you do legs. Yes that makes for a harder day, but at least the CNS gets some rest.

I like to do sprints first because they sprints have less detrimental effect on leg strength and strength work does on speed work (when done on the same days). And if you are sprinting to build maximum speed you are linkely not causing too much energy drain and the sprint session can even potentiate de lifting session.

BTW you CAN ‘sprint’ everyday, but not go all out everyday and hope to progress. People look at sprinter’s workouts and they do not realise the intensity modulation that goes on. When it comes to sprinting there is a HUGE difference in neural impact from 90-92% to 98-100%.

Thanks CT. From those 2 posts you can pretty much write a whole article on the basics of sprinting programming

Thanks for the info bro.

tweet

How on earth do you tell the difference between say a 75% run and an 85% run? With weights it’s real easy to measure with the bar weight and number of repetitions. Just experience?

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
How on earth do you tell the difference between say a 75% run and an 85% run? With weights it’s real easy to measure with the bar weight and number of repetitions. Just experience?[/quote]

80% ; running fast but leaving something in the tank
90% ; very intense effort
100% ; full on sprint like your life depends on it (only possible for a limited number of reps(1-2))

tweet

[quote]theBird wrote:

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
How on earth do you tell the difference between say a 75% run and an 85% run? With weights it’s real easy to measure with the bar weight and number of repetitions. Just experience?[/quote]

80% ; running fast but leaving something in the tank
90% ; very intense effort
100% ; full on sprint like your life depends on it (only possible for a limited number of reps(1-2))

tweet[/quote]

That…

Also, sprinters know it instinctively. Let’s say someone has a current best of 10.15 on 100m. If you tell him to run at 90% he will come to about 1 tenth of a second to be right at the proper time.

Similarily, most elite sprinters can turn in the exact qualifying time they need during the preliminary waves, then turn it on for the finals.

For example in London Usain Bolt ran a qualifying heat at 95.4% (10.09 vs. 9.63 for the finals), Blake at 97.5% (10.00 vs. 9.75) and Gatlin at 98%.

These guys run so many times that they know how to turn in a specific time (that is possible for them)… same thing for swimmers.

For those who do not have the luxury of that ‘‘talent’’ I prefer to go by broad estimations and using qualifications instead of quatifications:

Form running: focusing on pace and technique, normally ends up being about a 70-80% intensity level

Fast sprint: Trying to run very fast, but staying loose and knowing that you have a little extra something in you, turns out to be about 90-95%

Maximal sprint: Trying to get the fastest time possible