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How Do Wind Sprints Make Me Fit?

Posting Date: 10/26/2000

Q: I?ve heard about interval training. Is this the same thing as wind sprints? And if so, how and why should I do them?

A: Yes, wind sprints and interval training are the same thing. We like to use the term wind sprints because it?s the first word ?- WIND ?- that should really be emphasized. The purpose of the exercise is to get momentarily winded. Athletes have to go very fast to get winded. Out-of-shape people can get winded from just walking.

If you want to be able to burns lots of fat during aerobic exercise, then you have to raise the level at which you exercise. Doing several wind sprints in the middle of your regular aerobic exercise session raises that level. Plus, wind sprints add intensity and challenge to your workouts without the danger of getting injured.

How Do I Do Wind Sprints?
During the middle of your aerobic exercise, add several short bursts of intensity by going faster or increasing the resistance. Don?t try to go as fast or as hard as you can. Just go fast enough so that after 20-60 seconds you are breathing harder.

To get the maximum benefit from your sprint, you?ve got to return to the speed you were going prior to the sprint. Do not stop or go slower than pre-sprint speed. After you have recovered from the sprint, repeat this sprint/recover cycle. You can eventually add up to 5-10 sprints per workout. Here?s a bonus: when you add sprints to your workout you can shorten the total exercise time.

The beauty of wind sprints is that they can be added to any exercise, cycling, swimming, walking, rowing ?- you name it!

What Do I Mean By Intensity?
Intensity is a relative term -- it means pushing yourself beyond what?s comfortable. It doesn?t mean going as fast as you possibly can.

Let?s say you are terribly out of shape and 50 pounds overweight. Slow walking is your fastest comfortable exercise. In the middle of your walk you go up a short hill, which makes you puff a little. The uphill stretch is not hard enough or long enough to exhaust you or make you gasp, but it?s enough extra effort to make you glad to reach the top.

That little hill represents the level of intensity I?m talking about. Sprinting madly up the hill as if it were an emergency would be too intense for you. On the other hand, an Olympic athlete might have to zoom up a much steeper hill to add intensity to her comfortable run.

Covert?s Rules for Wind Sprints:

  • Sprint easy, recover hard.
  • You don?t have to sprint to do wind sprints -? you just have to get winded.
  • It?s not the intensity of the sprint that matters -? it?s the intensity of the recovery.

For an example of a workout with wind sprints go to: How Do I Put Wind Sprints Into Practice?