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Sprint Interval Training: Easy Sprint HIIT Type Workouts

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In sprint interval training, you are not just giving a hard effort; rather, you are putting forth 90-100% effort. The SIT “work” intervals are significantly shorter than HIIT intervals. Because the intensity is so high, the efforts are typically:20 -:30 seconds long.

Failure to mix up your training will lead to a lack of growth in a runner. Sure, you can just run around your neighborhood at the same pace all the time.

Heck, you can even push it at a fairly challenging pace and think you will make headway. But the truly best way to guarantee growth as a runner is to mix it up from one day to the next.

Sprint interval training is an exceptional way to accomplish that.

What Is Sprint Interval Training?

Sprint interval training, or SIT, is similar to a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout. In a HIIT workout, the athlete alternates high-intensity activity that can vary in length from 2:00 minutes to longer with short recovery periods at low intensity. 

HIIT has gained popularity in recent years as more and more athletes jump on the bandwagon. Recently, SIT training is quickly gaining speed, and people love the higher intensity workouts.

In SIT, you are not just giving a hard effort; rather, you are putting forth 90-100% effort. The SIT “work” intervals are significantly shorter than HIIT intervals. Because the intensity is so high, the efforts are typically :20 – :30 seconds long.

These are followed by a rest, sometimes as much as 2:00 – 3:00 minutes long. The rest is either complete rest or walking. This is another difference between SIT and HIIT.

9 Reasons Why A Sprint Interval Is Effective

Sprinting workouts are very effective.

According to Stack in the article Why Every Human Should Run Sprints, there are some great reasons:

  1. Cardiovascular Benefits
  2. Build Fast Twitch Muscles
  3. Higher Heart Rate – Higher Caloric Burn
  4. Burn Body Fat/Weight Loss
  5. Mental Health Benefits
  6. Muscle Growth
  7. Increase V02 Max/Cardiorespiratory Fitness Benefits
  8. Short Workout With Big Reward
  9. Significant Bang for Your Buck

How Do You Do Sprint Interval Training?

Start simple if you are a beginner looking to incorporate sprinter training into your aerobic workout regimen. Bear in mind that your sprint goal is 90-100% of what you are capable of for speed. 

  • Warm-up for 10 minutes
  • Complete dynamic stretching
  • Sprint :30 seconds, walk for 1:30 seconds (repeat 4-6 times)
  • Cooldown

How Long Should You Do Interval Sprints?

The sprint intervals should be short. Typically, you are at full speed for :30 seconds or even less time than that. Keep in mind it is supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

The total duration of the cardio workout is usually very short. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this intensity exercise.

Don’t let that have you thinking that they are not worth it.

Is It Bad to Sprint Every Day?

You should not sprint every day. Once you start sprinting, you may find it addicting. Don’t fall into the trap of doing the same thing day after day. Your body needs a variety of different activities to grow your fitness level.

It is okay to do speed work once or twice each week. One day might be a sprint workout, and another might be a tempo run.

Unless you are actually training to be a sprinter, use the sprint workouts in moderation.

HIIT Running

It does bear mention that a similar workout is HIIT running. In HIIT, you are pushing hard, but not at as high of a perceived effort as with SIT running. 

A HIIT aerobic exercise might have you pushing hard for :60 seconds, followed by a moderate steady state effort for :60 seconds. Notice that your rest is not significantly longer than the work portion.

If you want to try some HIIT running workouts, try Nike Running App or the Peloton App.

If you prefer not to use technology, you can make a workout.  

An Example of HIIT

  • Warm-Up
  • 4-6 sets of fast running at 60-75% perceived effort for 2:00 – 4:00 minutes 
  • Rest is usually active recovery at 30% perceived effort. Rest intervals could be anywhere from 1:00-3:00 minutes long. 
  • Cooldown

A HIIT workout is also a high-effort physical activity. For example, you might do some 1:00 minute runs at mile pace, :90 second runs at 5K pace, and 2:30 minute runs at 10K pace, all with different rest intervals.

Sprint Interval Workouts

Here is an example of what most SIT workouts look like. Please always remember to warm up first. 

  1. Sprint for 10 to 30 seconds at your maximum perceived effort. 
  2. Rest for anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes. This is either complete rest or walking slowly. 
  3. Repeat. This can be done anywhere from 4 to 10 times.

Some Advice from Running Coaches

If you are looking for a great spring interval training workout, look no further. We turned to some coaches in our Runnerclick Pro group, and these are some of our favorite responses. 

Coach Ryan Lange of LiveGenZ offers this video tutorial on treadmill sprinting. As Coach Lange will tell you, sprinting hurts. However, “the training programs that hurt the most generate the greatest reward,”

Gustavo Roman Jr has this to add, “It’s more of a VO2 max workout, but I love introducing “floater” intervals to athletes training up to a 10K, maybe the half marathon distance once or twice a season at most. Sometimes called Oregon 30-40s (the paces the likes of Pre and Galen Rupp would run), the workout consists of running 200 meters at your current mile pace and following it immediately with 200 meters at half marathon to full marathon pace (10-15 seconds slower than the previous 200) as the “recovery” interval, then repeating without rest until failure.

 Most athletes aim to complete six to eight total laps of this or aim for as many as possible until they fall off pace. It’s a phenomenal test of resilience, both physically and mentally. At the University of Oregon, Steve Prefontaine held the record for this workout at 18 laps until Galen Rupp surpassed his record with 24 laps in the late 2000s, which is just insane!”

Evan Wood of Just Another Running Coach also says he wants to jump on the V02 max bandwagon. “The training session I did today is pretty nifty! 3 sets of 200m + 200m + 400m at current mile pace with equal distance recovery jogs. It’s hard enough to give most people a kick in the pants, but it’s not excruciatingly difficult. 

For beginners who haven’t spent much time running at VO2 Max pace, I would recommend taking full recoveries between each rep (rather than limiting the jog to a specific distance).”

Give it a Shot!

If you have been looking for a high-intensity exercise new to rejuvenate your workouts, this might be just the ticket. Don’t be afraid.

Just give it a whirl.

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