Should you be sprinting?

Twice a week, David Kemp, a senior at the University of Kansas, steps out onto his quite neighborhood street and sprints as hard as he can past four houses then stops. Then, he turns around and does the same thing back to where he started. Kemp has just recently switched from long distances runs to doing short, fast sprints.

“When I’d run for miles at a time I just wasn’t seeing the results I wanted,” Kemp said. “I would really only feel the burn in my lungs but with sprinting you feel your legs working. After a few weeks I could see the definition I had been striving for.”

For his personal fitness goals Kemp is trying to build muscle and rather than have high cardiovascular endurance. The effects of sprinting become clear when you look at the different builds of distance runners and sprinters Kemp said. Sprinters are always really muscular while long-distance runners tend to not have a lot of muscle definition.

Kemp is one of a growing group of fitness enthusiast that are converting from the traditional long distance runs to short, high-intensity sprints.

According to “Running Vs Sprinting – Why Marathon Runners Look So Different From Sprinters” by Jared A. James the reason sprinting is proving to be more effective for people like Kemp is because of a principle called “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand or SAID.” This concept explains that the human body will adapt to whatever training it is put through.

“Doing an hour of cardio training per day will eventually lead to stagnation as the person’s body becomes adapted to that one hour of low-intensity exercise demand,” James writes. “In order to get in better shape, they will need to start doing more, either through higher intensity or longer periods of low intensity training.”

According to James, people trying to lose weight is they can’t just do cardio at the same intensity for the same amount of time and expect to see results. Once the body adapts to the exercise it won’t be making progress whether the aim is build muscle or lose weight.

For those aiming to lose weight, running of any caliber holds yet another benefit. According to an article released in  The International Herald Tribune by Gretchen Reynolds compares the eating habits of those who run versus those who walk as their daily exercise.

The runners “proved after exercise to have significantly higher blood levels of a hormone called peptide YY, which has been shown to suppress appetite,” Reynolds writes. “So to eat less, run first.”

On the other side of the running verus sprinting debate is Becca Clark, a 21-year-old Lawrence resident. Clark is not interested in losing weight or gaining muscle.

“I just want to be able to walk up the stairs without dying,” Clark said.

Her workout regimen consists of low-intensity running twice a week for a couple of miles. Because her goals are based on cardiovascular performance this type of running suits her needs.

Clark proves that traditional cardio of running steadily for long distances isn’t an out-of-date form of exercise just one that brings about different results. Your exercise routine should be based on your goals.

According to James, “Endurance training or “doing cardio” can be used if storing more fat and losing muscle definition is one’s goal, but in order to develop muscle and build speed, an athlete must focus on doing shorter sprints and higher intensity work.”


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