People have always been sprinting.
Back in the day people were sprinting to catch prey – not casually jogging after it. And in more recent years, sprinting has become perhaps the most popular competition in the Olympics. It isn’t going anywhere soon, and for good reason; it’s just badass to be able to run fast, and there’s no exercise more effective for burning fat than sprinting.
After running some hard sprints your body is in overdrive trying to recover from the lack of oxygen and to return to its resting state. This process is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). Your metabolism is jacked up as your body works to recover, which in turn means you’ll be burning calories long after sprinting (up to 48 hours).
But burning fat isn’t all sprints are good for. Sprinting has been shown to increase levels of growth hormone (HGH). HGH plays a vital role in building muscle, improving bone strength and improving body composition.
Still not sold?
You can be done within 30 minutes including a warm-up. In fact, you should be done within 30 minutes. So if you’re on the road and need a quick workout to burn off those extra cocktails, beach sprints are the way to go.
A 2012 study suggested that beach sprints use up to 1.6 times more energy than they would on firm ground. You’ll slip and sink in the sand, but running on the beach will strengthen your legs, feet, toes, and ankles. Additionally, you won’t be able to hit maximum speeds, so whilst you’ll be working like hell and ramping up your metabolism through the roof, you’ll be at a much smaller risk of injury.
How to Not Suck at Beach Sprints
Before you hit the sand and go at it full-throttle, it’s important to make sure you know how to sprint. The last thing you want is to pull a hammie in front of the cool kids down at the beach.
- Consider going shoeless to activate more muscles, but if you feel you need the extra support don’t fret.
- Relax. Keep your head upright and your shoulders down. Don’t tense up or make any weird faces.
- Stand tall. Keep you back straight.
- Don’t clench your fists. Fingers should be slightly curled.
- Pump your arms back and forth in a rhythm with your legs. Your arms should be positioned at right angles, moving forwards and backwards. Don’t let your arms cross your body.
- Use your legs like pistons. Drive your knees forwards and high.
- Your foot should not be striking the ground too far out in front of you.
- You should land on your mid-foot. For maximum speed, your heels should not be striking the ground.
- And don’t forget the sunscreen!
Always do a warm-up. Spend 10 minutes thoroughly warming up. Perform bodyweight exercises such as squats, jumping jacks, glute bridges, leg swings, walking lunges, high knees and skipping. Then proceed to run 30 yards up and down a stretch of beach a few times.
Breaking a sweat is an indicator of being good to go.
Then the fun begins.
- Sprint as hard as you can for no longer than 10 seconds. Anything over means you’re not working hard enough.
- Rest for a couple of minutes, and then go again.
- Perform as many flat-out beach sprints as you can within 20 minutes.
- If you find you’re not exhausted after 20 minutes you’re not working hard enough.
- The workouts should naturally get harder as time goes by as you’ll be covering more ground than you did in previous workouts.
- To make things tougher still, try decreasing rest periods, or finding a sand dune to sprint up.
Just like lifting weights, high intensity work requires lots of rest to recover from.
Beginners might need up to 5 days to recover from this sort of conditioning work, but the absolute minimum should be 2 days. Ideally, these workouts should be performed on a day where you don’t have any other training scheduled. However, if you have to do it alongside another workout make sure it’s not after lower body strength training. You’ll put yourself at risk of injury and will not be able to perform at high intensities.
Alongside a good strength programme, performing beach sprints no more than once or twice a week will work wonders.