How to use sprinting to get six pack abs

First off, I wanted to give a huge congratulations to all of the amazing Olympians and their super human feats!  It's been so much fun watching this year's Summer Olympics.

I'm also yet again amazed at the accomplishments of Usain Bolt, the "worlds fastest man" with his world record breaking 100-meter sprint.  How cool is that to be able to say that you are the world's fastest human being...Just crazy!

It's been interesting to observe the physiques of the different athletes also.  Which physique do you think is best?  In my opinion, at least for the men, the sprinters and the gymnasts have the best overall physiques, with impressive strength, muscularity, and leanness, and an overall healthy look.

I've talked about this in the past, but it's interesting to observe the physiques of the 100-meter sprinters vs the physiques of the long distance runners.  The sprinters are just so powerful looking, yet lean, ripped, and healthy.  They're muscular, but not too muscular like some oversized bodybuilders frequently look.

Personally, I know I'd rather look like a sprinter than a bodybuilder.  And I'd definitely rather look like a sprinter than a marathoner!  By the way, have you seen the ripped six-pack that Usain Bolt has... yes, from sprinting!

Compare a sprinters physique with a long distance runners physique or a long distance bicyclist's physique and pretty much every man I know would rather look like the sprinter and not the long distance runner or biker.

I know I've said it a thousand times before, but there's no arguing that sprinting builds an awesome body!  It's not surprising since sprinting is one of the best exercises for inducing growth hormone and testosterone release...both important hormones for being strong, lean, and ripped.

Considering the impressive physiques of the gymnasts too, imagine the physique that a combination of sprinting and gymnastics would create.   But the cool thing is that you can create this type of physique yourself too if you just mix in sprinting, bodyweight exercises, and weight training all into your routine on a regular basis.

So we've established that sprinting will build a much more impressive, stronger physique than long distance running, but what about health benefits?

Well, this might surprise you, but sprinting is MUCH better for your health too.  Long distance running and other long duration cardio increases free radicals in your body and accelerates aging.

You can read this article on why long cardio accelerates aging, and which types of exercise actually make you more youthful.

Sprinting is one of those exercises that actually helps you stay youthful... Not only because it builds lean muscle, and therefore keeps your metabolism revving high 24/7, but also because of the growth hormone (also called the "youth hormone") releasing benefits of sprinting!

Another aspect we didn't mention yet where sprinting kicks the crap out of long distance running is for the benefits for your heart.  Long distance running typically only trains a very narrow heart rate range, which doesn't actually do much to improve the strength of your heart.

On the other hand, sprinting mixed with rest intervals takes your heart rate range all the way from resting heart rate up to near maxed out levels, and trains your heart to recover fast, while training it through a very wide heart rate range, which is quite different from long distance running.  I know when I do 50-100 meter wind sprints, my heart rate will shoot up to 160 bpm, while my resting heart rate is in the low 50's!  Scientists are becoming more aware recently that "heart rate recovery" is one of the most important aspects to look at when it comes to heart health.

Now with all of that said, is sprinting for everyone? 

Definitely not!  Let's face it... some people are just too far out of shape to even try sprinting... they would likely pull a muscle, injure a tendon or ligament, or something else.  But almost anybody can eventually work up to sprints... heck, just watch the TV show, "The Biggest Loser", and even some of the contestants that start out at 400 lbs end up being able to do full sprints by the final weeks of the show.

Even if you can't do full out sprints right now, you can still use the concept of interval training and widely varying your heart rate throughout a workout instead of working at the same heart rate the whole workout.  Over time, you can experiment with higher levels of intensity that are approaching more of a full on sprint.

When I do wind sprints, I sprint so hard that it's actually impossible to do any more than 10-15 seconds during each sprint.  And I keep most sprints somewhere between 50-100 meters each in order to maximize intensity and therefore maximize GH release.

You can read below about the exact sprint routine I've used on and off for the last few months that really helped me to lean out whenever I needed to drop fat.  I also talk about what I did nutritionally before and after these sprint workouts to max out the fat loss effects:

A sprint routine that will get you into single digit bodyfat

Enjoy the rest of the Olympics!  And good luck with your own Olympic body!

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Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer