Most people don’t run at top speed unless someone’s chasing them. But here’s a novel idea: “Practicing running faster will make you faster,” says Matt Nolan, an RRCA-certified running coach and master instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp in New York, NY. Sprint workouts—short, hard efforts followed by easy recovery periods—actually help you become a better runner at all paces and distances.
That’s because “they train the body to recruit and develop fast-twitch muscle fibers, build muscle, and improve heart rate and overall caloric efficiency,” says Nolan. Plus, the more comfortable you get working through sprint workouts, the easier they’ll start to feel. After just a few weeks, you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to hold your balls-to-the-wall sprint pace for longer than when you started.
When you’re doing these sprint workouts—do them just once or twice a week—make sure to leave enough time to warm up and cool down before and after. A solid warmup includes dynamic exercises like hamstring sweeps, high knees, quad stretches, and butt kicks, followed by an easy one-mile jog or three minutes of striders (15-sec. efforts at increasing intensities followed by 30 sec. walking or jogging). You can do the following routines on a treadmill or outdoors, either on a track or on the street.
The Best Sprint Workouts to Get Faster, Build Muscle, and Drop Fat
1. Beginner Sprint Workout
“This workout is easy enough for anyone to follow and teaches you to pace yourself,” explains Nolan. “Try to match the same speed you do in the first round for however many reps you do—repetition like this leads to the body adapting and becoming stronger faster.”
- 1-min. jog
- 30-sec. sprint
Repeat 6–8 times
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