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The need for speed: it’s time to sprint for your six-pack

Close your eyes and imagine the Olympic 100m final: some of the most powerful men and women on the planet are blasting down the track. Their arms and legs are pumping and exploding like powerful pistons. Immense force is being generated on both sides of the body as it pulls and twists the spine and body back and forth.

Sprint training involves high-intensity, all-out movement that engages your core muscles like no other exercise can in such a short duration.

“Whoaaaa….my core muscles have never been worked like that!?” This is the expression I usually hear from my clients after they go through one of their first sprint workouts. It’s funny to see the surprise on their faces that their core, not their legs, get the brunt of the workout.

Summer is approaching and there is no better time to get your core engaged like never before. Who doesn’t want to look shredded in their bikini or board shorts this Summer? It’s time to get out of the gym and head to the track!

Why is sprinting so good for your core?

The best exercises have two things in common that determine muscle function and growth: degree of muscle activation and length of time that muscle is under tension.

There is no exercise that generates more force in the abdominal musculature than sprinting, and therefore no exercise can mimic the developmental stimulus it provides.

How is the body is able to stay ridged and upright under this immense pressure? The abdominal wall elicits tremendous degrees of force and pressure stabilization. A monumental effort takes place to engage the entire abdominal cavity and forces engagement and stabilization of the trunk and internal organs.

This force is so powerful that even one 10-15 second sprint can induce massive muscular stimulus on the midsection.

First and foremost it’s sprinting, not jogging ladies and gentlemen

The explosive power generated through sprinting can be done by anybody too. You just have to run at the maximum efforts your body can handle to fully engage your musculature.

It may seem awkward at first to run so fast, but proficiency at high intensity sprinting comes the same as with any exercise: through proper training and coaching.

Best of all, the workouts are short and fun! You will not be slogging through endless miles pounding the pavement, but rather getting in touch with your inner athlete.

In doing so, you will engage all the major muscles in your body, such as the arms, legs and glutes – and of course the core.

The Best Core Exercise in the World Needs to Burn Fat as well as Build Muscle

There are a lot of people with super strong cores, but they have excess body fat covering up their “internal six pack.” To be considered the best ab exercise in the world you need to do two things: build muscle and burn fat. Sprinting accomplishes both feats with flying colors!

In addition, sprinting also gives the gift of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), which basically means there is an acute elevation in energy used even after the exercise has stopped.

EPOC causes a biochemical effect to burn excess fat stores to help your body recover from the performance surge you put it through propelling yourself down the track. Yes, sprinting is the gift that keeps on giving well after your workout is completed.

5 Tips to Get Started on Your Strongest Core Ever!

  • 1. Warm-up well: jog for a few minutes followed by plyometric and mobility drills that include several sets of high knees, butt kickers, hip openers, strides to get up to race pace, etc; you NEVER want to sprint until you are properly warmed up and increasing the intensity SLOWLY is key with any sprint program.
  • 2. Form is crucial: you sprint on your toes and balls of your feet, keep your arms bent at 90 degree angles at your sides (do not cross the body with your arms) while the hands reach levels between your shoulders and your eyes. Remember, your arms and legs are powerful pistons!
  • 3. Push versus pull: your foot strike should push away from the ground from the hip (pushing backwards versus pulling from the front to the back). Many hamstrings have been pulled from not doing this properly.
  • 4. Control your core: the core and low back should be engaged the entire time; do not collapse either one. Keep the chest upright and proud even in the forward lean as you hit your top speeds.
  • 5. Run through the line: give yourself a good amount of room to finish and slow down properly. You never want to stop suddenly at the finish line. Glide through the finish and gradually slow up your muscles.
  • Gabriela Argyros

    Good article and advice like always! I have question…like a beginner with running, what about i couldn’t not even walk of knees pain after few first running. I had to wait 2 weeks to past the pain.What I’m doing wrong or it is because I didn’t do anything for more than 10 years? Also you say sprint not jogging. I always run how fast I can but after 10 minutes I’m so red and can not breathe so I have to walk for while and than again for little… Say hello to your amazing wife, hopefully see you this year in Arillas and have a nice Easter! Gabi

    • Chris Ryan

      Hi Gabriela–one of the things with sprinting is to make sure you are properly warmed up and running on a good surface like a track or grass field (soccer or football field for instance) vs sprinting on a road that is made out of cement or asphalt due to the pounding your legs take on the harder surfaces.

      Also, all-out sprinting is hard work and should only be performed once your body is used to running fast (several sessions building up to your fastest pace as well as several runs within each session of progessively faster sprints is a must — your body must be warm and used to these high intensity sessions.

      Lastly, my favorite sprint workouts with clients are only about 50-100m in length for each interval. They start out with a few reps far below their maximal intensity and we gradual build from there to ensure they have proper strength, balance, coordination and form as the intensity increases. Eventually, they will be able to do approximately 8-10 repetitions at 95%+ of their exertion rate with a few minutes rest between each rep. Also, other times we take the exertion down a notch (ie 80% for instance) and include body weight movements (push ups, air squats, pull ups etc) or add in kettlebells, medicine balls etc. I hope this helps out and thank you for your question.

  • Chris Ryan

    Hi Gabriela–one of the things with sprinting is to make sure you are properly warmed up and running on a good surface like a track or grass field (soccer or football field for instance) vs sprinting on a road that is made out of cement or asphalt due to the pounding your legs take on the harder surfaces.

    Also, all-out sprinting is hard work and should only be performed once your body is used to running fast (several sessions building up to your fastest pace as well as several runs within each session of progessively faster sprints is a must — your body must be warm and used to these high intensity sessions. Lastly, my favorite sprint workouts with clients are only about 50-100m in length for each interval. They start out with a few reps far below their maximal intensity and we gradual build from there to ensure they have proper strength, balance, coordination and form as the intensity increases.

    Eventually, they will be able to do approximately 8-10 repetitions at 95%+ of their exertion rate with a few minutes rest between each rep. Also, other times we take the exertion down a notch (ie 80% for instance) and include body weight movements (push ups, air squats, pull ups etc) or add in kettlebells, medicine balls etc. I hope this helps out and thank you for your question.

  • Andrew

    Good advice Chris

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