sprint training

36 minutes of vigorous exercise over 5 1/2 months, the results.


To get more out of exercise it is essential to accurately determine the minimum effective dose and the amount of recovery time needed to produce improvement.  Perry, age 69, does his weekly 30 minute strength training sessions at our Austin strength training facility.  He recently began sprint training on one of our stationary bikes about three times a month. 

For the strength training we measure Perry’s time under load (TUL) for each exercise.  When the TUL increases to a certain point we raise the weight the next session.  Perry has been training for four years and continues to improve.  We keep accurate records.

We do the same for sprint training. To accurately measure improvement we control the variables:

  • ·         Same difficulty level

  • ·         Same number of sprints(6)

  • ·         Same sprinting interval (22 Seconds)

  • ·         Same recovery level (heart rate) before beginning the next sprint.

In May it took Perry 28 minutes to do six sprints.  Five and half months later his time had gone down to 18:30 minutes. That is a 9 ½ minute improvement - the same work in far less time.  Adding up all the twenty-two second sprints that comes out to a total of 36 minutes of sprinting time over 5 ½ months.

With 330,000 workout sessions under our belts working with a wide range of ages and abilities, we have a good idea of what constitutes an effective dose of exercise (it is not that much) and the recovery time needed to produce ongoing improvement.The sprints are demanding - that is what stimulates change – but the time commitment is small, and the benefits are worth it.



Study finds maintaining aerobic capacity requires persistent training while maintaining muscle anaerobic potential does not

How long does it take to get back up to peak performance after a long break from exercise? According to one study, that depends on whether the exercise is primarily aerobic or anaerobic.

From the study Enzyme adaptations of human skeletal muscle during bicycle short-sprint training and detraining:

“A long interruption in training has negligible effects on short-sprint ability and muscle anaerobic potential. On the other hand, a persistent training stimulus is required to maintain high aerobic capacity and muscle oxidative potential. This may contribute to a rapid return to competitive fitness for sprinters and power athletes.”

In the study bike sprinters trained for nine weeks followed by seven weeks of detraining (no training). Researchers found that the sprinters’ aerobic enzyme levels fell, while their anaerobic enzyme levels remained high for the seven weeks of detraining.  There were negligible effects on muscle anaerobic potential means the subjects remained strong.

The body need not be constantly submitted to anaerobic exercise to maintain strength gains or improve upon them. Another study bears this out: weight lifters who took two three-week breaks from training over an 18 week period showed more improvement than those who trained the entire 18 weeks without a break.

Seeing how much strength training you can endure is at best a waste of time and at worst detrimental. It is prescription for injury, drudgery, and eventually quitting.  At Austin Personal Training and New Orleans Fitness trainers  our approach is to find the least amount of strength training that will produce the most results. With such an approach you will improve each week without long hours in the gym. You’ll more likely stick with it, and over time, your quality of life will be profoundly changed.

The same results exercising in just 1/5 the time

A study examined the effects of two different exercise protocols on health indicators such as insulin sensitivity and cardio-respiratory fitness. The two protocols: the sprint exercise protocol (SIT), three 20-second ‘all-out’ cycle sprints with two minutes of easy cycling between sprints and the moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) protocol, 45 minutes of cycling at a moderate pace. Both had warm-up and cool down periods.

A quote from this article, No time to get fit? Think again, that reported on the study:

“After 12 weeks of training, the results were remarkably similar, even though the MICT protocol involved five times as much exercise and a five-fold greater time commitment.”

And another quote:

““This is a very time-efficient workout strategy,” says Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study. “Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective.””

The body adapts when exposed to more than it can handle; Sprints will do that. It is not how much exercise you can withstand it is how little is necessary to produce a positive result. This is an exercise regime that will change you, and it is one you can stick to; it's one of the exercise protocols we use at New Orleans Fitness Training and at Austin TX Fitness Training.

High intensity sprint training you can stick to

With any exercise program if you set the bar too high you’ll likely quit. Set the bar lower and you are more likely stick to it and see more results in the long run.

One way to do sprint training that I have seen recommended and I have tried:  Warm up on an exercise bike or other aerobic equipment.  Then go as fast as you can for 30 seconds.  Recover at much slower RPMs for 90 seconds then repeat the cycle for a total of eight sprints. If you are truly going as fast as you can it will take a long time to acheive eight all-out sprints.  It is grueling. It took me months to build up to eight sprints. I had great results, but I absolutely hated it. I had a sense of dread whenever I would go into the gym to do it. I eventually quit. 

Trying to go as fast as you can is a euphemism for trying to withstand as much pain as you can. These sprints are difficult. Approaching spring training in this manner was, for me, a prescription for quitting.

After a three-month hiatus I finally had enough gumption to go back to this type of training, but I took a different approach. Instead of seeing how much I could withstand I set the bar lower. Instead of working up to a total of eight as-hard-as-you-can sprints I started at eight not-nearly-as-hard-as-you-can sprints. When I was done I said, “That's not so bad”. I kind of looked forward to the next session instead of dreading it.
Instead of going to 95% of my maximum heart rate I went between 85% to 90% of my max, and instead of taking 90 seconds to recover, I waited for my pulse to come down before doing another sprint. At first doing a total of eight sprints took me 29 minutes, as the recovery periods were longer. With each session I patiently waited for my pulse to come back down and over a series of weeks my pulse came down quicker. After a couple of months I was still doing sprints. But instead of taking 29 minutes it only took me 21 minutes. I was very happy with this quantifiable improvement, and I did not dread the next sprint session.

Sprint training is one form of high intensity training we do at Austin Personal Trainers

A great alternative to treadmills and standard exercise bikes

After going on a vigorous one-hour walk the other day, my feet were sore and tender for two days. I have had neuropathy in both feet for decades. Besides the neuropathy, I have had my share of injuries and conditions I have had to live with - multiple foot operations include one for a torn Achilles, two broken bones in my back including one back operation, multiple breaks in one arm, knee surgery, and rotator cuff issues.  Sports will do that to you.

If you do nothing your condition will worsen. I work around the issues, and I am not compromised in my ability to go all out and put in the effort necessary to dramatically improve my health and fitness.  One of the reasons is the piece of equipment we have at New Orleans Personal Trainers and at Austin Personal Trainers  shown here in this short video.

Sprint training for fat loss

From this study, High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss comes this: 
Dosage: A thirty second all-out sprint of on a bike, recover at a reduced RPM, repeat four to six times. Do this three times a week for two to six weeks. 
Results: 1. Increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. 2. Significantly lowers insulin resistance 3. Skeletal muscle adaptations that result in enhanced skeletal muscle fat oxidation 4. Improved glucose tolerance. 
From other studies the reported results: 1. High Intensity Inteval Training Lowers Appetite 2. Health and Physical Function Improves with High Intensity Training 3. Blood Pressure Reduced with High Intensity Interval Training 4. High-Intensity Strength Training Beneficial to Parkinson's Patients 5. High intensity training better for coronary artery disease patients 6. Brief Bouts of High Intensity Training Improves Maximal Oxygen Uptake 7. Studys Shows That HIT Exercise Lowers Blood Pressure 8. Long distance running lowers testosterone; sprint training increases it 
I have been doing this for over a year now. I can report the following additional change. At age 60 I feel the best I have felt in well over a decade. At Austin Personal Training and at New Orleans Fitness Trainerswe can help you gradually build up to a high intensity strength training or an aerobic high intensity training program that is safe, effective, and efficient for your age and condition. You need not spend hours in the gym to feel better, look better, and perform better.

The health benefits of interval training - one study

A recent New York Times article How 1-Minute Intervals Can Improve Your Health reported on the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The subjects exercised on a stationary bike. There were two groups of subjects, unfit subjects and cardiac patients Plus a control group. The results:

"Despite the small time commitment of this modified HIIT program, after several weeks of practicing it, both the unfit volunteers and the cardiac patients showed significant improvements in their health and fitness.

The results, published in a recent review of HIIT-related research, were especially remarkable in the cardiac patients. They showed “significant improvements” in the functioning of their blood vessels and heart, said Maureen MacDonald, an associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster who is leading the ongoing experiment."

Also noted were the benefits demonstrated in earlier studies:

“In unfit but otherwise healthy middle-aged adults, two weeks of modified HIIT training prompted the creation of far more cellular proteins involved in energy production and oxygen. The training also improved the volunteers’ insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation, lowering their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a study published last fall in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.”

The researcher concludes: “It’s very potent exercise,” Dr. Gibala said. “And then, very quickly, it’s done.”

HIIT using strength training exercises is the type of training we do at New Orleans Personal Trainers at Austin Fitness Trainers.

Past blog entries about cardio health and HIIT