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.