Want a quick, simple cardio workout that'll help you lose weight and break a major sweat? Look no further. This sprint interval running workout is effective because of the way it pushes your heart rate sky-high, said Chris McGreer, MS, an NSCA-certified personal trainer and exercise physiologist at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Health and Fitness Center.
"Sprinting and interval training tax your cardiovascular system by creating peaks and valleys with your heart rate," he explained. Think of it this way: most of us can't realistically expect to be able to sprint or maintain a fast running pace for 20 minutes straight. But by splitting up those 20 minutes into short, alternating intervals of sprinting and recovery, you actually maintain a higher average heart rate than you would just attempting to sprint the whole time. That lets you burn more calories in that short amount of time, Chris told POPSUGAR.
The workout he recommended is simple but challenging, and there are a few things we need to clear up first. This is a sprint interval workout, which means true sprinting at your maximum level of exertion, as fast and as hard as you can. That speed will look different for everyone, depending on your fitness level and ability. Don't push yourself to hit a certain speed before you're ready; instead, tailor the workout and your expectations to what your body can accomplish right now. We'll offer specific modifications and recommendations to help you work your way up.
Outdoor Sprint Interval Running Workout For Weight Loss
Start with an active warmup:
- Jog slowly for 30 yards, then walk for 30 yards. Focus on staying tall and running with good form.
- Jog at 50 percent of your max speed, then walk or slowly jog for 30 yards.
- Repeat, increasing your speed by roughly 10 percent each time, until you're up to a full sprint.
This warmup, specifically tailored for a sprint workout, "should allow your body to get accustomed to the increased demands of a sprint drill," Chris said. Once you're warm, start the workout:
- Sprint at 100 percent effort for as long as you can. Try 25 to 100 yards to start.
- Slowly jog or walk for triple the sprinting time, or at least two minutes.
- Repeat for eight to 10 sprints.
- Cool down afterwards with five to 10 minutes of walking or slow jogging.
Don't forget to stretch out when you're done.
If you're a beginner, keep your distance and reps low, Chris said. As you build stamina and get stronger, work on increasing the sprint distance, then your repetitions. After that, if you really want to challenge yourself, begin to decrease your recovery time. Varying those three factors makes the workout more intense and difficult as time goes on, Chris told POPSUGAR.
Of course, it also means that this workout won't get any easier on your body from start to finish. While it's important to ramp up speed and distance over time for the best weight loss results, it's equally crucial to take it slow to start; pushing yourself too hard can easily lead to injury. Even if you're sprinting for short distances and low intervals, we promise your lungs will still be aching, your legs will still feel like putty, and everything will definitely feel sore the next day.