When it comes to workout goals for women who want to lose body fat, sprint interval training is a smart choice. Sprint training is especially beneficial for women because it can improve hormone balance and ramp up fat burning.
Sprint training is unique from long, slow cardio because it often leads to fat loss without the need to diet or cut calories. Additionally, sprint training lowers insulin and improves your muscle’s sensitivity to glucose. This combination makes it great for improving metabolic health and countering inflammation.
Sprint training also increases lean mass. This makes sprint training the ideal choice for getting rid of abdominal fat that infiltrates organs and makes you “skinny fat.”
In order for women to get the most out of sprint workouts, you need to know what works and what to avoid. Here are some guidelines for embarking on sprint training followed by some workouts you can use today.
Tip #1: For Body Composition Goals Pay Attention To What You Eat
Sprints can help you lose fat without dieting. But watch out that you aren’t eating more calories than normal, either as a “reward” to yourself, or because you’re not recovering optimally. When skimp on recovery, either with too little sleep or poor nutrition, stress hormones remain elevated, leading to cravings and increased hunger.
Tip #2: Individualize Your Training
Sprinting is more effective and takes less time than steady-state exercise. But it also has a high degree of perceived exertion. In simple terms, it’s hard. If you’re a novice, start with moderate-intensity intervals to gain confidence and get used to the feeling of pushing yourself.
Tip #3: Provide Mental Relief
If you dread your workout, there are several strategies for providing mental relief. For women who want short but tough workouts, a quick Tabata of 20-second sprints alternated with 10 seconds rest for 4 minutes is a good option. For women who don’t like the burn of tough training, try 60 second intervals at a “somewhat hard” pace alternated with 60 seconds of active rest.
Tip #4: Train Against Resistance
Studies show that training against resistance by running up hill helps build muscle. More muscle means you can handle more carbs and have better metabolic function. Other ways for training against resistance include pushing a weighted sled, running stairs, or using a resistance bike.
Tip #5: Program Smart
There are several other ways to provide mental relief:
Training in a group has been shown to significantly improve performance, boost mood, and make workouts feel “easier.”
Pyramiding down from longer distance sprints to shorter bursts has been shown to lower difficulty. For example, do decreasing distance sprints of 400, 300, 200, 100 meters.
Try a “fast start” strategy in which you do 2 to 4 sprints all-out, followed by the same number of moderate intensity repeats. By starting the workout with a bang, you can more than double the time spent above the “critical threshold” of maximal oxygen use.
The Following Are Protocols To Try:
1. The 8:12 Protocol
Sprints of 8 seconds on a resistance bike interspersed with 12 seconds of active rest repeated for 20 minutes.
Best For: Novices but can be used by more advanced trainees by increasing the resistance.
2. The 15:120 Protocol
Sprint of 15 seconds alternated with 2 minutes rest. Can be done on a bike, track, or other cardio machine. Start with 8 and increase to 12 repeats over time.
Best For: Anyone who feels comfortable pushing themselves.
3. The 5:40 Protocol
Short 5-second maximal effort sprints alternated with 40 seconds active rest. Can be done on a bike, track, or other cardio machine. Start with 24 and increase to 36 repeats over time.
Best For: Anyone who prefers super short sprints over longer work bouts.
4. A 1:1 Work-To-Rest Protocol
Intervals of 20 minutes with a 1:1 work-to-active rest protocol, such as ten 60-second sprints (somewhat hard pace) alternated with 60 seconds active rest.
Best For: Novices and anyone who prefers moderate intensity training over all-out efforts.
5. The Wingate Protocol
Sprints of 30 seconds on a resisted bike or track interspersed with 3-4 minutes active rest. Repeat 4 to 7 times.
Best For: Experienced trainees or anyone who knows how to push themselves.
Sprint training is a proven tool for helping women lose body fat and improve lean muscle mass. Hopefully, with this article you will have all you need to get results from sprint training. For more information, including a complete rundown on the science of sprint training, check out our Ebook, The Complete Guide To Sprint Training.