This Outdoor Sprint-Interval Workout Blasts Calories (and Boredom)

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Sprinting revs your heart rate so you torch more calories in a shorter amount of time.
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Tired of the same old running routine? Mix it up with sprint intervals. Running intervals not only busts boredom but burns a bounty of calories too, making it an ideal weight-loss workout. That's what you call a win-win.

Plus, there's no special equipment required — just you and the open road. Lace up your shoes and let your legs do the rest.

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How Do Sprint Intervals Help with Weight Loss?

Sprinting increases your heart rate and pushes your body's energy systems to their max, resulting in EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), says Meg Takacs, trainer at Performix House and creator of the #RunWithMeg app and the Free 30-Day Quarantined Fitness Program. "Which means you burn a high amount of calories after your workout too."

And it's also more efficient during your workout. While a 155-pound person would burn about 500 calories during a 60-minute jog, they could burn that amount with a 30-minute sprint workout, alternating between all-out sprints and recovery.

Curious exactly how many calories you burn during your workouts? Download the MyPlate app for a more accurate and customized estimate.

Then there are the muscular benefits. "When you do sprint intervals, you not only recruit more muscles (especially hamstrings), which burns more calories, but you also create more micro-tears in your muscle tissue," Takacs says.

That means your body continues to use calories to repair those micro-tears and build new lean muscle after your workout, which is more good news for future fat burn. That's because the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest to maintain it.

Planning Your Sprint Intervals

Since interval runs are intense and hard on the body, you shouldn't be doing them every day. Aim for every other day and use a different type of interval for each workout. For example, on Mondays you can run hills and Wednesdays you can do a pyramid interval workout on flat land.

For outside runs, you won't have the luxury of the treadmill to track your time and speed. To gauge your intensity, Takacs recommends working off your perceived effort. As you increase your speed and power with each interval, it'll feel harder. On a scale of 1 to 10, sprints should be a 7 to 9 and recovery should feel like a 3 or 4.

You can also use your watch to help you do this. For example, if your first 200-meter sprint clocked in at 45 seconds, aim for each successive sprint to be faster.

20-Minute Outdoor Sprint-Interval Workout

Designed by Takacs, this flat-and-fast outdoor sprint interval sequence scorches oodles of calories in just 20 minutes. All you need is a track or a level stretch of ground to get grinding. For a real challenge, try to acquire more distance with each consecutive interval.

Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.

Part 1: Warm-Up

  • 5-minute jog at an average pace

Part 2: Sprint Intervals

  • 90-second sprint
  • 60-second walk
  • Repeat 6 times

Part 3: Cooldown

  • 1-mile jog at an average pace

Tip

Make sure you have supportive running shoes to reduce your risk of spraining an ankle, especially for interval-type training.

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