Whether you want to torch fat or keep your heart healthy, sprinting is a great choice. The number of calories burned sprinting is a lot higher compared with jogging or steady-state cardio. This form of exercise offers better results in less time, making it ideal for those with a busy lifestyle.
Running five 30-second sprint intervals can burn anywhere between 41 and 61 calories, depending on your weight. Sprinting increases post-exercise oxygen consumption, keeping your metabolism elevated for hours.
Get Leaner, Fitter and Healthier
About 80 percent of American adults are not getting enough exercise, reports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A sedentary lifestyle may increase your risk of chronic diseases and early death. Ideally, you should engage in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for 150 minutes to 300 minutes per week or aim for one hour and 15 minutes to two hours and 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week. Strength training is equally important.
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Running sprints is a simple, convenient way to meet the above recommendations for vigorous aerobic training. It requires no equipment and can be done anytime, anywhere. Think of it as a short race at full speed. You can sprint for 20 to 30 seconds, walk or rest for one minute and start all over.
This form of training can improve muscle definition, preserve lean mass and boost your metabolism, points out the American Council on Exercise. It not only shapes your legs and glutes but also stimulates the release of testosterone, insulin-like growth factor and other anabolic hormones that promote muscle growth.
Furthermore, you'll keep burning calories after finishing your workout due to the so-called afterburn effect, or EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). A single bout of sprints may increase energy expenditure by about 225 calories per day, according to a small study published in Physiological Reports in October 2013. As the researchers note, that's more than enough to prevent weight gain in the long run and improve body composition, or fat-to-muscle ratio.
Read more: 10 Exercises to Increase Your Running Speed
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The number of calories burned sprinting is significantly higher compared with the calories burned running on a treadmill or cycling on a stationary bike. With this approach, you will torch calories during and after exercise.
According to the Physiological Reports review, a single bout of sprints can boost your metabolism for two or three hours following its completion. Oxygen consumption remains elevated for up to 24 hours after sprinting, which further increases fat burning.
A small study featured in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism in August 2012 compared the effects of sprint interval training and steady-state cardio on fat loss. As it turns out, running two-minute sprint intervals three times per week may be just as effective for burning fat as doing steady-state cardio for 30 minutes three days a week. Researchers attribute these benefits to the post-exercise increase in metabolism associated with interval training.
However, the study had only eight participants, so its findings may be not conclusive. Further research is needed to confirm the long-term effects of sprint interval training versus steady-state cardio.
Calories Burned Sprinting
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the number of calories burned running for 30 minutes depends largely on body weight. The same goes for sprinting, which is a faster, more explosive form of running.
A 125-pound person will torch about 270 calories when running at 5.2 miles per hour. If you weigh 155 pounds, you can expect to burn approximately 335 calories. A 185-pound individual, by comparison, will burn around 400 calories.
If you weigh 125 pounds and run at 10 miles per hour (which is similar to sprinting in terms of speed), you'll burn around 495 calories in 30 minutes. A 155-pound person will burn 614 calories in half an hour, while a 185-pound person can torch about 733 calories.
Therefore, a 30-second sprint will burn anywhere between 8.25 to 12.21 calories, depending on your weight. A five-minute training routine that includes five 30-second sprint intervals will burn approximately 41 to 61 calories. The more sprint intervals you do and the higher your speed, the more calories you'll burn. Consider using a fitness tracker for more accurate results.
However, the number of calories burned sprinting or working out in general also depends on your age, body composition, metabolism, fitness level and climate, points out the State University of New York. Working out in the cold, for example, causes your body to use more energy and leads to a higher calorie burn.
Despite its health benefits, sprint interval training may not be safe for everyone. Warm up, start slowly and focus on building your endurance. Get your doctor's approval if you have heart disease or hypertension, advises Harvard Health Publishing.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition"
- American Council on Exercise: "The Benefits of Speed Training for Non-Athletes"
- Physiological Reports: "Total Daily Energy Expenditure Is Increased Following a Single Bout of Sprint Interval Training"
- International Journal of Sports Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism: "Two Minutes of Sprint-Interval Exercise Elicits 24-Hr Oxygen Consumption Similar to That of 30 Min of Continuous Endurance Exercise"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- State University of New York: "Energy Expenditure"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Interval Training for a Stronger Heart"