Quick off the mark

Quick off the mark

The New Year always brings lots of advice on how to get fit but have you considered sprinting as a standalone form of exercise?

One of the problems with starting a new fitness regime is finding the time to actually do it. We’ve all been there - you start off with good intentions and then life takes over, you make other non-fitness based plans and before you know it, a couple of weeks have passed without actually making it to the gym. If you find it hard to find the time for exercise, then a sprint workout could be just what you need.

Sprinting, or sprint related exercise is one of many forms of High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT.

It’s an intense workout that delivers impressive results in a relatively short amount of time. It has great cardiovascular benefits and will help with weight loss and improving lean muscle in a fraction of the time a long, endurance workout takes to achieve the same results. Not only will you save time, but providing you follow a sprint programme properly and safely, you’ll also gain some nifty sports skills too!

John Lewis Fitness Advisor, Chris Husbands is a qualified UKA Athletics coach and runs his own personal training business. He’s also author of the book, Sprinting: Training, Techniques and Improving Performance, with a foreword by Daley Thompson CBE, so it’s safe to say he’s a bit of an expert!

Chris has devised a great whole body workout based loosely on the 5 phases of a 100m sprint race. Here are his top 5 sprint training tips for optimum fitness and total body activation.

1. Improve your reactions and be quick off the mark!

The Adidas Vertical jump trainer works the muscles in the lower body that create power - just the right muscles needed for an explosive start.

2. Improve your agility and be quick on your feet

Rapid acceleration relies on fast movements, so develop your coordination and balance with the Adidas Agility Grid. It encourages multidirectional and zonal focus, for both or single foot movement.

2. Improve your agility and be quick on your feet

Accelerate smoothly, swiftly and gradually increase your stride length and stride rate. To accelerate means an increase in speed and intensity, but it also means keeping control. Use a speed ladder to practice controlled horizontal, forward or backward movement. I often ask my athletes to practice running between rungs, every other or more to increase a measured stride. Practice getting quicker and quicker without actually stepping on the ladder rungs.

5. Be focused to the finish and strong to your core!

Maximise your speed with strength. Once into your running, you’ll want to get to maximum speed safely and in control. Lack of control will mean wasted efficiency and effort. The Adidas speed resistor is one of my favourite pieces in my training toolkit. It works by using partner-harness controlled resistance to help increase your speed and power. You should also aim also to get a good knee lift when at cruising speed. The Adidas adjustable hurdle will help you keep your knees up whatever your height or flexibility.

4. Maximise your speed with strength

Getting through the finish line can be where you lose concentration or where fatigue sets in. I tell my athletes to look beyond the finish line, so that you go through it rather than stop just before. Strength in your core muscles really help here. Use any gym or balance ball such as the John Lewis balance ball for sit-ups and other exercises to improve your core stability. The versatile Adidas agility discs have many uses and can improve acceleration and deceleration times and overall speed. You can also use them mark out a lane or perimeter or as a start and finish pointer.

For the full workout and so much more, read Chris’s book, Sprinting: Training, Techniques and Improving Performance, published by The Crowood Press.

Always consult your doctor or health professional before taking up any new
fitness regime.