Sprint training is all the rage in the personal training world these days.
Sprint training is a great way to improve speed and power, build anaerobic fitness and burn body fat; and the ability to sprint is a good general sign that your body is functioning well.
However, sprint training is often misused by both personal trainers and recreational athletes.
First things first, training should be periodised and explosive or power training like sprinting should be trained AFTER a general conditioning and general strength base has been built.
It’s literally a case of don’t sprint before you can jog, so work on your running and on building a general strength base with squats and deadlifts before you add sprint training to your programme.
Here are some of the mistakes that people often make with their sprint training:
- Not warming up sufficiently – sprinting is a physically demanding activity and can be tough on the lower back, hamstrings and hip flexors. Perform dynamic warm up exercises and running drills before you start your sprints.
- Doing too much, too soon in workouts – start your sprint training with short distances for low repetitions. 4 rounds of 40 metres should be more than enough for a beginner or someone who hasn’t sprinted in a long while. Keep injuries and demoralising recovery periods at bay by giving your body the chance to get used to sprinting over a few sessions.
- Not resting long enough between rounds – it’s ridiculous when a trainer tells his or her client to do a dozen rounds of 100 metre sprints with 30 seconds rest between rounds. After a few rounds the client is no longer actually sprinting and instead the sprints have turned into slow, laboured runs. Sprinting requires recovery and to put things into perspective, Michael Johnson, the greatest 400 metre runner of all time, was himself only able to perform 6 rounds of 350 metre sprints with three minute recovery periods.
- Not actually sprinting – this is usually a result of not being warmed up enough, not resting enough between rounds, or fatigue from doing too many rounds in a workout. If your sprints have turned into jogs then you are no longer getting the benefit of working your body to it’s maximum. Think quality not quantity and let the length you are able to sprint for build up over time.
- Doing the sprints at the wrong time in the workout – it’s best to perform sprints when you are warmed up but not worn out. For the most part, if you sprint too early in a workout – or sprint at the end of a demanding workout – then you may increase the risk of injury. Follow sprint training with non dynamic strength work or light recovery running.
Now you know what to do (and what not to do) with regards to sprint training…
So get yourself to the running track and get going!
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