There are many people, some even hardcore fitness buffs, that fully believe the speed you run does not correlate to the muscle or health benefits that are gained. But there a lot of real benefits to sprinting as opposed to jogging when you’re running. This also applies to bike “sprints” and swim sprints. Though there are a lot of ways that sprints can seriously help your health, that isn’t to say that jogging or long-distance runs are bad, just that sprinting offers more immediate benefits. In fact, when reading this list, remember that some kind of exercise is better than not exercising at all.
Unlike many forms of cardio, sprints and fast-paced workouts actually encourage muscle growth. Jogging long-distance, in fact, tends to slow down muscle growth, which we will cover more below. But sprinting actually causes muscles to grow, in the same way that low-volume high-weight squats and deadlifts do. There’s a lot that goes into it, but a large part is activation of fast-twitch versus slow-twitch muscles. Things like high intensity interval training (HIIT is a sprint-oriented workout-type) and heavy lifting activate your fast-twitch muscles, which are very good at quick bursts of speed and providing power to movements. Slow-twitch muscles are the counterpart, and they are great at providing energy for endurance activities, and will provide the boost needed to sustain a decent speed over long amounts of distance and time. If you are trying to gain muscle and raw lifting power, you will need to focus on fast-twitch fibers.
There are two kinds of fast-twitch, type IIb/IIx (fast-twitch) and type IIa (moderate fast-twitch). Your body relies on slow-twitch muscles for walking or slow-jogging, and when you push harder than they can handle you begin to rely on your moderate fast-twitch and fast-twitch muscles (in that order) to make up the difference. This is why high-intensity workouts are important if you are looking to build muscle while running, increase your running speed, and still burn some calories.
Dangers of relying on long-distance alone include its aforementioned use of only slow-twitch muscle fibers, when fast-twitch is needed for muscle growth, but other reasons as well. Once again, it is better to jog than be completely inactive, but it is often used best as a tool in a fitness toolbox.
Running tends to burn a large number of calories, which is a double-edged sword. It may help if you need to lose a large amount of weight (while also depleting joint strength), which you will need to replace to avoid losing out on gains from the gym. When your body is hungry and lacks protein, it will begin to synthesize the proteins in your muscles to fuel the repair. But once you get into upper levels of long-distance workouts, you may find depleted motivation from running fueling overeating. Essentially: Monitor your weight. Cortisol levels may also rise from running, harming your immune system. Counter this with Vitamin C if possible.
For more information on the benefits of sprinting contact STR8 Training located in San Marcos, TX.