article by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer
First off, I wanted to give a huge congratulations to all of the amazing Olympians and their super human feats! It’s been so much fun watching this year’s Summer Olympics.
I’m also yet again amazed at the accomplishments of Usain Bolt, the “worlds fastest man” with his world record breaking 100-meter sprint. How cool is that to be able to say that you are the world’s fastest human being…Just crazy!
It’s been interesting to observe the physiques of the different athletes also. Which physique do you think is best? In my opinion, at least for the men, the sprinters and the gymnasts have the best overall physiques, with impressive strength, muscularity, and leanness, and an overall healthy look.
I’ve talked about this in the past, but it’s interesting to observe the physiques of the 100-meter sprinters vs the physiques of the long distance runners. The sprinters are just so powerful looking, yet lean, ripped, and healthy. They’re muscular, but not too muscular like some oversized bodybuilders frequently look.
Personally, I know I’d rather look like a sprinter than a bodybuilder. And I’d definitely rather look like a sprinter than a marathoner! By the way, have you seen the ripped six-pack that Usain Bolt has… yes, from sprinting!
Compare a sprinters physique with a long distance runners physique or a long distance bicyclist’s physique and pretty much every man I know would rather look like the sprinter and not the long distance runner or biker.
I know I’ve said it a thousand times before, but there’s no arguing that sprinting builds an awesome body! It’s not surprising since sprinting is one of the best exercises for inducing growth hormone and testosterone release…both important hormones for being strong, lean, and ripped.
Considering the impressive physiques of the gymnasts too, imagine the physique that a combination of sprinting and gymnastics would create. But the cool thing is that you can create this type of physique yourself too if you just mix in sprinting, bodyweight exercises, and weight training all into your routine on a regular basis.
So we’ve established that sprinting will build a much more impressive, stronger physique than long distance running, but what about health benefits?
Well, this might surprise you, but sprinting is MUCH better for your health too. Long distance running and other long duration cardio increases free radicals in your body and accelerates aging.
Sprinting is one of those exercises that actually helps you stay youthful… Not only because it builds lean muscle, and therefore keeps your metabolism revving high 24/7, but also because of the growth hormone (also called the “youth hormone”) releasing benefits of sprinting!
Another aspect we didn’t mention yet where sprinting kicks the crap out of long distance running is for the benefits for your heart. Long distance running typically only trains a very narrow heart rate range, which doesn’t actually do much to improve the strength of your heart.
On the other hand, sprinting mixed with rest intervals takes your heart rate range all the way from resting heart rate up to near maxed out levels, and trains your heart to recover fast, while training it through a very wide heart rate range, which is quite different from long distance running. I know when I do 50-100 meter wind sprints, my heart rate will shoot up to 160 bpm, while my resting heart rate is in the low 50′s! Scientists are becoming more aware recently that “heart rate recovery” is one of the most important aspects to look at when it comes to heart health.
Now with all of that said, is sprinting for everyone?
Definitely not! Let’s face it… some people are just too far out of shape to even try sprinting… they would likely pull a muscle, injure a tendon or ligament, or something else. But almost anybody can eventually work up to sprints… heck, just watch the TV show, “The Biggest Loser”, and even some of the contestants that start out at 400 lbs end up being able to do full sprints by the final weeks of the show.
Even if you can’t do full out sprints right now, you can still use the concept of interval training and widely varying your heart rate throughout a workout instead of working at the same heart rate the whole workout. Over time, you can experiment with higher levels of intensity that are approaching more of a full on sprint.
When I do wind sprints, I sprint so hard that it’s actually impossible to do any more than 10-15 seconds during each sprint. And I keep most sprints somewhere between 50-100 meters each in order to maximize intensity and therefore maximize GH release.
You can read below about the exact sprint routine I’ve used on and off for the last few months that really helped me to lean out whenever I needed to drop fat. I also talk about what I did nutritionally before and after these sprint workouts to max out the fat loss effects:
A sprint routine that will get you into single digit bodyfat:
My new morning ritual to get ripped abs and single-digit body fat
Today I wanted to share with you a few fitness and nutrition techniques I’ve been using myself lately, and my new “morning ritual” which has been getting killer results!
In fact, just doing this morning ritual for the last 7 mornings in a row, I can already see that my lower abs are getting more defined by the day (indicating that this is lowering my body fat % a bit more).
This involves both exercise AND nutrition tricks, so read this whole post, even if you can’t do the exact same type of exercise.
Here’s the method I’ve been using that is getting crazy results…
We just started getting really warm spring weather here in the Rockies, so the last 7 mornings in a row, I’ve been riding my bike about 10 minutes over to the local soccer field and then do about 20 minutes or so of all-out wind sprints (50-100 yard wind sprints with full out intensity), and then I do the 10 minute bike ride back home. When I get home, I do about 5 minutes of floor abs exercises to finish off.
All in all, it’s only a 45-minute morning workout, but makes me feel amazing for the day! And I do this morning workout in a “semi-fasted” state, which I’ll explain below.
Even if you can’t do wind sprints, keep in mind that you can still do something similar that is a higher intensity for you personally (perhaps hill walking instead of wind sprints, for example).
By the way, outdoor sprints are where the action is… sprints on a treadmill don’t have the same effect as there’s more force production involved in accelerating a sprint outdoors compared to on a treadmill. Plus, the max speed on a treadmill is not high enough usually for an “all-out” sprint. In my mind, it’s a world of difference. Personally I never step foot on a treadmill.
How wind sprints raise your fat burning hormones:
One of the reasons that wind sprints are so effective at chiseling your body and reducing body fat to “ripped” levels (have you ever seen the bodies of some competitive sprinters? yes, ripped!) is that sprints are one of the specific exercises that are known to have a great effect on increasing Growth Hormone (GH) naturally in your body…
…and we all know that GH production in your body is one of the key secrets to getting lean, strong, and also staying youthful!
For the wind sprints, what I’ve been doing is increasing distance on each sprint from 50 meters to 60 meters, 70, 80, 90, and finally 100 meters. Then I repeat the cycle. Usually just 2 cycles of this is enough to get me fully whooped (about 12 all-out sprints)! But as time goes on this summer, I will try to increase distance, the number of sprints, or the intensity to keep progressing.
Important note on sprints: If you’re going to try all-out sprints, make sure to ease into them for the first couple workouts if you haven’t done them in a while to minimize injury risk. You should slowly increase the intensity (70%, 80%, 90% intensity) for the first couple of workouts before doing 100% all-out sprints.
Also, try hill sprints for variety if you have a hill nearby. I like to do 30 yard uphill sprints, followed by walking back downhill and repeating. These are great variety that can be mixed in with your flat field sprints, and have great benefits for growth hormone production as well.
Now for the morning nutrition trick I’ve been using…
I’ve tried “morning empty stomach exercise” in the past, and here’s the deal… I usually don’t have the energy to do anything intense first thing in the morning on a fully empty stomach, so for these sprints, I’ve found a nice little concoction I came up with that gives me the energy to do these high intensity sprints without weighing me down, and without many calories. It’s just enough to do the trick!
At the same time, this concoction I drink has almost no carbohydrates, so should have very little effect on blood sugar, which means the sprints will be more effective at stimulating Growth Hormone release as well as triggering fat loss.
What I’ve been doing is mixing this Superfoods Cocktail (which is lightly sweetened with stevia, nothing artificial, and with only 40 calories per serving, but 76 superfoods mixed in) with unsweetened iced tea (green, white, oolong, and yerba mate mixture) first thing in the morning. I usually have a big batch of unsweetened iced tea in a gallon container in the fridge that has at least these 4 teas mixed for taste and diversity of antioxidants.
I also mix in about a half scoop (12 grams) of raw grass-fed whey protein, and I have about 2-3 grams of BCAA’s (to help minimize muscle catabolism), and a few caps of krill oil.
This entire concoction is only about 110 calories total (with only 3 grams of carbs from the Athletic Greens), so it’s just enough to give me energy to do the high intensity sprints, but not too much to weigh me down, or affect blood sugar levels (and elevating blood sugar would halt fat loss and minimize GH production during the sprints, which is why I kept carbs very low in this morning concoction).
Take note that one of the key parts of the supplements I take for this pre-workout mixture is the BCAA’s, as studies show that BCAA’s can prevent muscle catabolism during exercise on an empty stomach, and I do these sprint workouts in a semi-fasted state. Some research also indicates that BCAA’s used during fasted exercise can help reduce abdominal fat more than a placebo.
I try to get about 15-20 minutes to digest this mixture a bit (the bike ride to the soccer field takes about 10 minutes) and then I start to rock out the 20-25 minutes of all-out wind sprints. The 10 minute bike ride back home is a nice cool down, and then I hit up about 5 minutes of floor abs exercises (such as abs bicycles, mountain climbers, lying leg thrusts, etc) as a good finisher once I’m home.
This morning workout feels amazing, and I end up getting an amazing workout with plenty of energy, as opposed to the no energy feeling I have if I try to do totally “empty stomach” exercise first thing in the morning. This also makes me feel really energetic for the rest of the day too, and I’m sure boosts my metabolism!
When I come back from the sprinting, I wait about a half hour (to let the body keep burning fat for fuel) and then make my full breakfast, which lately has been my fairly low-carb healthy breakfast of 3-4 whole eggs (free range, pasture-raised eggs from a local farmers market), grass-fed bison or beef sausage, lots of veggies mixed in to the eggs (mushrooms, onions, spinach, kale, and red peppers), and a half of an avocado on the side. And I have a cup of green tea or yerba mate with about a 1/2 teaspoon of raw honey.
The fat loss results so far:
Keep in mind, I’ve only been doing this morning ritual for about 7 days so far… but even with only a week of this method, I’ve already had noticeably more definition in the lower abs doing this every morning for the last 7 days or so! I need to start building in some rest days, so I’ll probably try to do this 4-5 mornings per week from this point fwd, until I feel the need for a change and variety in the routine.
So if you’re up for a challenge and a great training and nutrition combo method, this seems to be working wonders for me so far! Let’s get ripped and ready for summer! Perhaps you can find a way to do something similar in your routine, even if you can’t do full-out wind sprints.
I hope this post has given you some good ideas to use. Have fun!
Enjoy the rest of the Olympics! And good luck with your own Olympic body!
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer
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