Is Sprinting Enough?
Most people's first introduction to cardio is running. It is a staple in the fitness world, but which form of running is the true champ for weight loss? Well the answer is not entirely crystal clear. Many people will argue that sprints are the best way to shed fat and reveal that sexy six pack underneath. While all cardio is better than no cardio I do not truly believe sprints are the best way to shed weight or even build sheer cardio capacity.
If your goal for doing cardio is just sheer capacity and to build your engine up, then I would say sprints are a bit useless in that regard. Sprints spend a lot of effort if you are truly sprinting. The sustainability of speed slowly degrades the further you go, and of course it would. You are attempting to use 100% of your energy in less than say 10 seconds. With running you are attempting to stay at a comfortable pace and expend about 40% of your energy to give your body the chance to finish your run without stopping. For example if you had to drive on a quarter tank of gas, you wouldn't get very far if you put the pedal to the metal. If you stayed at a slower consistent pace you'd be much more likely to make it to the gas station. Your body works in the same way.
Most of us do cardio to shed the extra weight we carry around with us. After a long weight session we might hop on the treadmill or find some turf and go all out, but how effective is that for losing weight? Imagine if you were trying to build muscle and all you did was a 1 rep max in all your sessions. Probably not going to get the results you wanted. Your max MIGHT go up, but you won't look much different than you did a month ago. If you did 10 sets of 100m sprints you didn't really go that far did you? Most baseline runs end at a mile and you only traveled 2/3rds of that. The longer your body spends moving the more energy it is going to require, thus the more calories you will burn.
Maybe you're thinking "yeah well whenever I start doing sprints I lose tons of weight explain that". My argument to that is, remember when you first started strength training? You were able to add 5-10 pounds onto the barbell every week for a while and then you hit a wall and you plateaued, so you had to add more hypertrophy and volume to your strength training to bring your max back up. Well the same goes for cardio. Your metabolism was used to the lack of cardio in your life and now you just jump started it with max effort sprints. Of course you are going to see a significant change and that is fantastic! The only downside is your body will eventually adapt.
Sprints are vital, don't get me wrong. I do them, I recommend everyone to do them. What I will say is you need to balance your max effort cardio with something more sustainable. I start my cardio cycles in off set weeks. I do 2 sets of sprints one week and 1 set of a longer distance run. Then the next week I do 2 sets of a long distance run and 1 set of sprints I keep alternating until I stop my cardio cycle.
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