Sprinting is a great way to get in shape, improve your overall fitness, and prepare you for entrance tests into the armed forces.
It is a type of high-intensity interval training that can provide many benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased speed and power, and better endurance.
Most importantly, sprints can skyrocket your performance, which is what you’ll want if you plan on taking a test like the Army Combat Fitness Test.
In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of sprinting, the different types of sprints, and how to perform a sprint workout.
What is a Sprint?
A sprint is a type of exercise that involves running at full speed for a short distance.
You’re giving 100% of your all-out effort into a very short span of time, usually no more than 30 seconds.
It is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise that can be performed with or without equipment.
Advanced runners may use a weighted vest to add more resistance, which we’ll discuss more below in the sprint workouts.
Traditional sprints can be performed on a basic well-paved surface such as a street or track.
If weather isn’t cooperating, you can perform sprints on a treadmill although this can be tricky given that you have to control the machine at the same time.
Another way to add resistance is to perform sprints on a hill.
If you're new to running, you might want to hold off on sprinting and master the basic form of running. Here's a complete guide to running for beginners.
Benefits of Sprinting
There are many benefits to sprinting, including cardiovascular health and improved performance.
Sprints are a great way to get your heart rate up and improve your cardiovascular health. One study found that sprints dramatically improved cardiometabolic risk factors in sedentary adults. 
Studies show that sprinting can help improve your VO₂ max, which is a measure of the amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise.
In addition, sprints can help you build up your muscular endurance, which is important for activities such as running a marathon or joining the armed forces. 
Speed and Power
Sprints can help you increase your speed and power.
This is because sprints are a high-intensity exercise that requires you to run at full speed. And despite popular belief, power does not mean strength.
Power refers to the maximum amount of force you can generate in the shortest amount of time possible.
Sound familiar? That’s exactly what a sprint is!
When you perform sprints regularly, you will see a huge boost in leg power.
As for speed, sprints only improve speed in relation to how strong your legs are. This is where strength workouts come into play.
The best thing you can do is use sprints for cardio days in a well-rounded workout program that also includes resistance training. Above all, don’t skip leg day.
Types of Sprints
There are several types of sprints that you can use in your cardio workouts:
Short, Flat Sprints
Short sprints are exactly what you think about when it comes to a classic sprint.
On a flat surface, sprints are typically performed over a distance of 100 meters or less. They are great for beginners who are new to sprinting.
As the name implies, this is a type of sprint that is performed up a hill. They are great for building up leg strength and power, but you have to ease into these as a sudden incline can be rough on the ankles.
Consider doing some exercises to increase your mobility before upgrading to hill sprints.
Start with smaller hills and build up to a steeper incline.
30/60s sprints are a type of sprint that involves running for 30 seconds and then resting for 60 seconds. This is a great way to get started with sprinting, especially if you are working on sprint pacing.
You can alter the amount of seconds to fit your level of fitness and experience.
For example, you can change this to 10/50s or 20s/40s.
Here are some guidelines for a sprinting workout. We’ll provide you with two based on whether you’re new to sprinting or you’ve been doing it for a while.
Beginner’s Sprint Workout
If you are new to sprinting, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase your speed and intensity.
Start by running at a comfortable pace for a few minutes to warm up your muscles. After performing a few minutes of dynamic stretching, you can start with a few warm-up sprints.
For example, a full-on sprint is performed at 100% of your effort. A warm-up sprint can start around 70% of your effort and gradually build.
Perform a few rounds of warm-up sprints for 20 to 30 seconds, giving yourself two to four minutes of rest in between.
Now, break into a sprint using 100% of your effort and maintain this speed for up to 30 seconds.
After the 30 seconds is up, slow down to a jog or walk for a minute to catch your breath. Rest for a few minutes then repeat this cycle for a total of 4 to 8 rounds.
Advanced Sprint Workout
For those who have experience with sprinting, you would want to start out with a more advanced type of sprints such as hill sprints or 30/60s.
We would recommend alternating the type you use from workout to workout.
Here’s an example:
Sprint Workout A: (e.g., Monday) – Perform 10 hill sprints with a 2-minute rest in between each.
Sprint Workout B: (e.g., Wednesday) – Sprint for 30 seconds then walk or lightly jog for 60 seconds. Repeat this pattern for 10 to 12 repetitions.
Sprint Workout C: (e.g., Friday) – Perform 10/50s (10 seconds sprinting / 50 seconds walking or jogging) with a weighted vest for 10 minutes.
- Gillen JB, Martin BJ, MacInnis MJ, Skelly LE, Tarnopolsky MA, Gibala MJ. Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment. PLoS One. 2016 Apr 26;11(4):e0154075. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154075. PMID: 27115137; PMCID: PMC4846072.
- Sloth M, Sloth D, Overgaard K, Dalgas U. Effects of sprint interval training on VO2max and aerobic exercise performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Dec;23(6):e341-52. doi: 10.1111/sms.12092. Epub 2013 Jul 25. PMID: 23889316.
- Koral J, Oranchuk DJ, Herrera R, Millet GY. Six Sessions of Sprint Interval Training Improves Running Performance in Trained Athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2018;32(3):617-623. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000002286.