Sprinting For Fat Loss


Not all cardio was created equal and thus it is important that you choose a form of cardio that will help you meet your goals in the safest and most time efficient way possible.

Since the mid 1990’s there has been a vast amount of research conducted into sprint intervals (SI) as a fat loss protocol. SI training, otherwise known as high intensity interval training (HIIT) have been shown to improve fat oxidative capacity (Burgomaster et al. 2007), decrease metabolic risk factors (Whyte et al. 2010), increase insulin sensitivity (Richards et al. 2010) improve energy system efficiency (Trapp et al. 2008) and are also recognized as a time efficient fat loss protocol when compared with traditional endurance training (Burgomaster et al. 2007).

SI training demands a large amount of energy and places the anaerobic energy system under a significant amount of physiological stress over a short period of time.
The stress response to this bout of exercises results in significantly elevated human growth hormone levels (Stokes et al. 2010) and oxygen consumption (Tomlin and Wenger, 2001) to help restore the metabolic processes to their baseline conditions. This post-exercise oxygen uptake in excess of that required at rest has been termed excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC during the slow recovery period has been associated with the removal of lactate and H+, increased pulmonary and cardiac function, elevated body temperature, catecholamine effects, and glycogen re-synthesis (Tomlin and Wenger, 2001).

Incorporating SI Training Into Your Program Design

Firstly SI training is for advanced trainees and athletes only. This is not a beginner or novice trainee protocol. If you haven’t sprinted or performed any intense running previously I would advise you to prime your body before incorporating this type of conditioning work within your program design. There are a significantly greater amount of injury risk factors associated with SI when compared with traditional endurance training. Thus my recommendation would be significantly reduce these risk factors by ensuring that you are both mobile and flexible before incorporating SI within your program design. Dynamic mobility movements – such as squat-to-stand or various band traction movements – help to open up our bodies. If we unlock our movement, we can get into better positions, move through a greater range of motion with more control which will ultimately result in greater force production, muscle activation, improved performance and ultimately greater results.

Beginner Protocol

• 40 meter sprint intervals x 10 @ 85 percent of 100-meter time
• 2-minute recovery interval between sets.

Moderate Protocol

• 40 meter sprint intervals x 10 @ 85 percent of 100-meter time
• 90 seconds recovery interval between sets.

Advanced Protocol

• 60 meter sprint intervals x 10 @ 85 percent of 100-meter time
• 60 seconds recovery interval between sets.

Take Home Points

  • When it comes to designing your cardio regimen just as resistance training must be periodized so to must SI training.
  • Keep your program design basic. There is no need to over-complicate things.
  • Competitive athletes in training I would recommend no more than two SI training sessions per week.
  • For recreational advanced trainees I would recommend between two and three SI sessions per week.


Burgomaster, K., A., Cermak, N., M., Phillips, S., M., Benton, C., R., Bonen, A. and Gibala, M., J. (2007). Divergent response of metabolite transport proteins in human skeletal muscle after sprint interval training and detraining. The American Journal of Physiology, (292), 1970-1976.

Richards, J., C., Johnson, T., K., Kuzma, J., N. Lonac, M., C., Schwder, M., M., Voyles, W., F. and Bell, C. (2010). Short-term sprint interval training increases insulin sensitivity in healthy adults but does not affect the thermogenic response to β-adrenergic stimulation. The Journal of Physiology, (588), 2961-2972.

Trapp, E., G., Chisholm, D., J., Freund, J. and Boutcher, S., H. (2008). The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. International Journal of Obesity, (4), 684-689.
Thomlin, D., L. and Wenger, H., A. (2001). The relationship between aerobic fitness and recovery from high intensity intermittent exercise. Sports Medicine, (1), 1-11.

Stokes, K., A., Nevill, M., E., Hall, G., M. and Lakomy, H., K., A. (2002). The time course of the human growth hormone response to a 6 s and a 30 s ergometer sprint. The Journal of Sports Sciences, (20), 487-494.

This article was originally written by Luke Haslett of Physique Consultant.