Sprinting is amazingly effective for weight-loss and just takes 20 minutes

I watched The Horizons BBC2 programme Thursday 1st March 2012 on the latest scientific findings on exercise and I was blown away. At the time I was exercising with my clients locally in small groups (in the picture above) and the following day I started sprints. The weight-loss results were superb in the following few weeks, especially where people has hit a weight-loss plateau

The biggest advantage was how much time we saved. Clients were wiped out after just 20 minutes, they kind of dreaded them, as I did myself, but then really enjoyed the sessions. I think sprints are easier with 1 other person or group support.y You will do more. The other advantage is that they increase your fitness and you will begin to see an improvement in your regular run times.

What is HIIT?

High Intensity Training (HIT), involves 20 second sprints while doing any form of exercise – cycling,  jogging, rowing or walking. For 20 seconds you go as fast as you possibly can then stop briefly and go again. It helps your body better manage sugar and it definitely gets you fitter faster.  Build up your number of sprints overtime.

“Doing just 3 sprints for 20 seconds at a time and resting for a brief period between them,  3 times a week for 4 weeks (12 minutes in total) improves how your body manages sugar (insulin-sensitivity) by about 23%” BBC reported.  I felt inspired!

The sprints reduce the amount of insulin needed from your pancreas and the insulin that is produced gets a better response from your cells. This is very good news for time-strapped individuals. For example you could cut your gym or exercise time from 1 hour to 30 minutes but make it more intense. 20 seconds is very manageable – TRY IT.

If you jog regularly, introduce 3 to 4 sprint bursts at the end when your muscles are warmed up.

I needed an explanation as I am quite cynical and rightly so too in our crazy world

When you sprint and push your heart and lungs to the maximum for short bursts (20 seconds), your muscles contract and break down sugar (glycogen) stored in your muscles and this pushes the muscle to pull fats and sugars from the blood. You activate 70% to 80% of the whole muscle when you sprint and this creates a bigger sink for energy from food.

On the programme, Dr James Levine of The Mayo Clinic advised us to move every hour or “our chairs will kill us”. Just standing rather than sitting increases your calorie burn rate by 10%.

A predictor of mortality

VO2 max is a test you can take on a threadmill in a sports clinic or hospital. It assesses how good the heart and lungs are at getting oxygen around the body. It is measured as “milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight.”  Olympic athletes get results of around 75ml/kg according to Professor Timmons whereas the average person comes in at 20ml per/kg. If you are taking up a new exercise regime, this would be a great test to consider taking.  According to Timmons, VO2 max is a powerful predictor of when you die.

There are providers in Ireland offering a VO2  test and for some people, this could be a great motivational tool to help weight loss and health goals.

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