Are you seeking to enhance your youthfulness, vitality, strength, and lean physique? Would you like to feel more energetic, vibrant and powerful? Sprinting is the answer. You’ve probably heard about the benefits of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), testosterone, and insulin sensitivity on many aspects of health. And how increasing our mitochondrial density and function is like unleashing the fountain of youth. Great news– one doesn’t need to get a prescription for them! Sprinting is a fantastic way to naturally boost one’s key longevity hormones, increase mitochondrial activity, elevate GH and testosterone, activate fat burning genes, enhance insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation, prevent chronic disease and cognitive decline. Does this sound too good to be true? It’s not. Read on and enjoy the empowerment.
Sprinting involves an all out explosive burst of effort for a brief period of time. Humans are built to perform at full intensity in short bursts. For our ancestors, sprinting meant escape from dangerous predators and thus, the ability to survive and propagate. By sprinting, we stress our bodies and give a message to our genes that we must up-regulate our function and structure. This message activates an entire cascade of gene transcription and the creation of chemicals and responses in our mitochodria (the energy “powerhouses” of the cell) which elevate our performance physically and cognitively. If we follow this with recovery time, we allow our bodies to build the required systems to thrive, and essentially reverse the aging process. Biological aging can decrease while chronological aging continues. Pretty cool.
Recovery time is key. Skip it and enter the dangerously familiar chronic stress, fight or flight, “adrenal overload” (or more accurately described as HPA axis dysregulation) picture we know to accelerate aging and chronic disease. It’s not pretty. Enjoy the rest! It will make you more powerful and youthful.
Sprinting can be modified for all levels, but it is important to first establish a steady aerobic baseline. This entails moving frequently at a slow pace, at a maximum aerobic heart rate of (180-age) beats per minute for several hours per week. This creates a safe steady state of health from which to begin taking on the stress of sprinting.
A strong focus on form and technique is essential for safety. Keeping the intervals brief and intense, with appropriate rest periods between sprints, and recovery time afterward, will ensure positive results. Seeking something with low impact? Try laps in the pool, sprinting on a stationary bike, going full throttle on a rowing machine, or even running uphill in the sand. One might even start with consecutive sit to stand squats from a chair to minimize stress on the joints. Create a safe environment for your personal state of health. A strategic warm up is critical, focusing on excellent technique, elevated circulation and nervous system activation.
Sprint only when fully rested and energized. Feeling sick, overworked, or under-slept? Skip the sprints and go for a long, gentle walk. This will maximize the positive hormonal effect of sprints without overstressing the body.
The key to sprinting is generating maximum explosive efforts in a short duration of time. Sprints may range from 8-30 seconds (beyond 30 seconds explosiveness declines and the workout becomes interval training). One might try burst of 8-15 seconds for running, uphill sand sprints, or 20-30 seconds for stationary biking or rowing. After a few minutes of warming up, try sprinting for 4-6 rounds, with ample time between each round to return heart rate and breathing to normal. That’s it. No more. The idea is FULL OUT effort, followed by FULL recovery. These extremes stimulate the body to grow stronger and more resilient. The entire workout might take 20 minutes or less, depending on how much recovery time is needed between sprint bursts. How great is that? An intense, well performed workout in 20 mins or less!
When running sprints, focus on these key elements of form;
A tall spine, pilates posture with a balanced center of gravity, feet striking directly under the hips, scapula retracted, ribs and hips square, elbows bent at 90 degrees and swinging freely at the sides of the body.
To enhance the explosiveness of each stride, think of running on hot lava.
Maintain a “strong foot” (dorsiflexion), and high knees, and think of pedaling a
bicycle (legs directly underneath the body) rather than long strides.
Aim for a mid foot strike.
Some great warm up drills are outlined in this video and include:
1. hopping; high knee, high toe
2. high knee running (dorsiflex)
3. high heel to hips running (high toe/dorsiflex)
4. bicycle in air
5. hamstring kick outs; knee to chest and extend in front (hamstring length and strength)
Enjoy the rush of some all out sprints! Do it once every 7-10 days. Not more. Aim for maximal explosiveness in each stride (running/biking) or stroke (swimming). Keep it short and intense.
Sprinting becomes fun, exhilarating, and energizing. It is fast and powerful work. Enjoy the rush of longevity hormones, mood enhancement, elevated GH and testosterone and subsequent improvements in cardiovascular function, musculoskeletal health, cognition, bone density, sexual function, skin tone, and vitality. A sparkle in the eyes!
By observing the effects of sprinting, we become aware of the incredible intelligence of the body. Following intense stress, the body responds by up-regulating itself in the recovery period. Indeed, the body recognizes that it must get stronger in order to survive intense circumstances. It therefore turns on genes for enhanced cardiovascular function, respiration, musculoskeletal structure, nervous system activation, hormonal balance and more. The entire system rises to higher levels of physical and cognitive performance. When we understand and respect the science of this masterfully orchestrated system of the body, how it responds to the information we give it, we harness incredible power to rise to our highest potential, thereby preventing disease and decline, and feeling radiantly alive. We thrive and enjoy the thrill of being in the driver’s seat of our own health and vitality. Go out there, go for a sprint, and make it happen!
Create solutions. Be smart. Be Primal. And feel radiantly alive!
Best to all,
Important: I am not a doctor or medical professional and the advice in this post is for informational purposes only. If you are pregnant or have a health condition, consult a doctor before adding anything to your health routine.