Travel Workouts

Sprints + Bodyweight: AKA Get Your Ass Outside

Today we have a straight up workout article for two reasons...

1) Since Friday I've been too busy watching the Track and Field events of the Olympics. And the Mens 200 (arguably my favorite event) starts today, for those who give a damn.

2) It's the tail end of summer. The ability to chill outside for the sole reason being "it's summer" is slowly falling away. And that makes me a sad Mike.

Everything outside is better than it's counterpart that is done inside. Example...would you rather cook in your kitchen or fire up your grill to cook some dead animals?

What about working on your sick tan...tanning booth by yourself or on the beach where you can people watch?

Or sleeping. Seriously, have you ever slept under the stars? Incredible.

And lastly, sex. The beast with two backs, bumping uglies, the bad touch. Now, of course it's fun in/all over your house. But the possibility of getting spotted by a hobo or attacked by a bear make it sooooo much more exciting.

What, am I the only one???

Anywho, back on track, getting outside because you can and should. I get a lot of questions from people about how exactly they should workout and how they can make it more enjoyable. Not everyone enjoys the process all of the time (me included), so having a fun workout that is still effective that you can do is crucial to staying in shape.

So...here it is... the "Get Your Ass Outside" workout...

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1) Warmup (from KINETIC: Phase 1)

2a) 100m Buildup Sprint* 2b) 10 Proper Pushups 2c) 10 Knee-Grabs Rest 60s

3a) 200m Buildup Sprint 3b) 20 Proper Pushups 3c) 20 Knee Grabs Rest 60s

4a) 100m Buildup Sprint 4b) 10 Proper Pushups 4c) 10 Knee-Grabs Rest 3m Repeat up to 4 times.

*Explained in KINETIC: Phase 1

Here is the best part of this workout...it can be done anywhere that you have open space to run. Of course a track would be the easiest, and most ideal location for this. But you can just as easily do it on a football field (just go down and back for the 200m) or a 50m patch of grass/beach/parking lot.

If you're out of luck and only have a short patch of open space, switch out the buildup sprint for shuttles. So the 200m buildup sprint would become a 50m shuttle where you go down and back twice.

This concept of sprinting coupled with basic bodyweight exercises is all you need to stay in shape when you're out of your normal gym or just want to do something totally different without having to put too much thought into it.

Why are you still here??? Get your ass outside!

How to Get Your Sprint On

Stella got her groove back. B.O.B. turned his beast mode back on. And Brett Favre made one of the most impressive comebacks the NFL has seen (wait...what??) But what about you?

You used to sprint. You used to run fast and chase things. You used to not sit on your ass all day getting fatter, weaker, and generally more bowling ball like.

Get your groove back...get your sprint on my friend. 

We already know why sprinting is awesome...and if you don't just go here.

So, now, the most important part...how to add it your day to get the most out of if and make it work for you. Sprinting isn't just a spring or a summer time activity. Though, yes, it is much more rewarding doing sprints on the beach and then being able to jump right in the water.

But for those of us who lived, and still live, where winter seems to last for 95% of the year we know that life doesn't stop because it's cold and snowy outside.

How to Sprint Inside

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Here you have two options...1) find a place that has a big enough space inside that you can run, or 2) find a place with treadmills. Obviously being able to run outside is ideal, but we can't always make that happen.

Option 1 is to find a spot with enough open space to sprint. At the very least you would need a basketball court. The ideal is to find a university with an indoor track.

You're typical college court is 28.65 meters long, and your local high school court is 25 meters long. Both are the same width, 15.24 meters.

So, if this is what you have available, you're essentially limited to short sprints of 10m, 15m, or 20m if you're cool with stopping yourself by running into a wall.

This is assuming that the court you have is the only on in the facility and the walls are right there. Most universities have a field house where multiple courts are laid out next to each other. If this is the case, you can do longer sprints. But for sake of people who are stuck with just a single court surrounded by walls, we'll assume that this is what we're working with.

Step 1 is to warm up properly. Sprinting is a high intensity and a highly explosive movement. If you try to just waltz into the gym and knock out 12 15m sprints you will get hurt.

At the very least, jump rope for a few minutes and then do some dynamic stretches focusing on your hamstrings, hip flexors, and glutes.

Or...download KINETIC: Phase 1. It goes into excruciating detail about how to properly warm up for sprints (or any workout really) and is something you simply follow along.

After the warm up you're ready to sprint. BUT...I've found it to be much, much more effective to do 3-4 "workup" sprints before I start for real. These are simple sprints where you gradually build up your speed along the distance you're running.

Now you're ready to get on with your workout. Here are just a few of the options you have...

  • 8 x 10m w/120s Rest, 8 x 20m w/120s Rest, 4 x10m w/ 60s Rest, 4 x 20m w/ 60s Rest
  • 20 x10m w/ 90s Rest
  • 5 x 5/10/15/20m Ladder (sprint 5m, walk back, sprint 10m, walk back, etc. ) w/ 120s Rest between ladders

For those stuck on the treadmill, you have a few different options. After the same warmup you can do a workup on the treadmill by starting with a slow jog with at least 4% of incline. Every few seconds kick up the speed by .5 or 1 until you're at about 80-85% of your top speed.

From there, since the treadmill takes forever to adjust speeds, you'll do these workouts based on time. For the sprinting parts you'll, obviously, be sprinting on the belt. For the resting parts, you'll grab the handles in front of you and jump off to the side rails on either side of the belt. When the rest is over, grab the handles again and jump back onto the belt.

  • 45s sprint with 15s rest x 5-10
  • 30s sprint with 30s rest x 5-10
  • 10s sprint with 50s rest x 5-10

As you can see, the treadmill limits our options by about a factor of a bazillion. For the most part, if this is all that you have, you're best bet is to use the treadmill for shorter bursts of 5-10 minutes of conditioning (you won't build pure speed on a treadmill) and either wait for a nice enough day, or just brave the elements and get outside for some real sprinting.

How to Sprint Outside

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Now this is the fun part...feeling the sun beat down on you as you fly across the track with your windswept hair...it's just...incredible.

Before you can begin you'll need to find a place to run. This really isn't that hard, just find an open area that is mostly flat and free of any sinkholes. A beach is fantastic, your local baseball/football/soccer field will work if you're keeping it under 100m, and a 400m track (or any other circular track) works best when you're getting up and over 100m.

If you want to go over 100m but don't have a track nearby, a trail can work, but also can prove to be tricky with tighter turns and roots on the surface. My suggestion is, if you can't get to a track, keep it under 100m.

Step 1 is the same as if you were running indoors (or any workout, really) warm up properly. Has to happen. No questions asked. Kinetic: Phase 1 will give you all you need to know in that department so go get your copy here.

After you're nice a warm it's best to take 3-4 workups, just as you would running indoors, before you start your work sets. Aside from a proper warm up, this is the best way to make sure you don't pull a hamstring while sprinting.

Now you're ready to sprint!

You can do the same as above...

  • 8 x 10m with120s Rest, 8 x 20m with120s Rest, 4 x10m with 60s Rest, 4 x 20m with 60s rest
  • 20 x10m with 90s rest
  • 5 x 5/10/15/20m Ladder (sprint 5m, walk back, sprint 10m, walk back, etc. ) with 120s Rest between ladders

But you can also stretch out the distances a bit...

  • 3 x 20/40/60/80/100m ladder (sprint 20m, walk back, sprint 40m, walk back, etc) with 120s rest between ladders
  • 5 x 100m workups with 120s rest
  • 100/200/400/200/100m pyramid with 120s rest between sprints.

Really, sprinting isn't hard to do as long you understand that resting between sprints is just as important as the actual sprint and that the best gains will come not from running all out, but from keeping the pace between 70% and 90%.

Jet, Hardwood

Sprinting = Awesome

If you were to take a look at the training templates I create for all of my clients, you'll see that 99.999999% of them include some sort of sprinting. The only time you won't see it is when that person physically cannot sprint/run/jump. In the most basic of terms, sprinting is speed. Or velocity. Or being fast as fuck.

But, and this is why most people discount sprinting, you don't have to compare how fast you are to the fastest people in the world. By doing so you will ALWAYS be slow...in comparison.

With Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, and plenty others running 100m in less than 10 seconds, and 200m in less than 20 seconds...it doesn't matter what you do, you will always be slow when compared to them.

So step #1 is stop doing that. This method goes fantastically with the usual benchmarks of everyone who workouts too. A 315 pound bench press is pretty damn good, until you realize that it's only 30% of the current world record (1075 pounds). Ditto with a 400 pound squat and 500 pound deadlift (40% and 50% respectively).

Take the most generous of those percentages (50%) and apply them to the 100m and 200m world records and you'll get 14.37s for the 100m, and 28.78 for the 200m. Both times easily run by kids in Junior High on a daily basis.

Again, stop comparing yourself to the best of the best. You're energy is better spent on making YOU better than YOU currently are.

Ok...on to the awesomeness....

Why Sprinting is Awesome...

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Sprinting = More Calories Burned

EPOC, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. All the rage surrounding HIIT and Crossfit is based on of this concept. If you've been int he fitness game for awhile you know this already.

If you haven't, the story goes like this...

When you compare the amount of calories that are burned during the duration of a 1-hour jog at a slow pace to the calories burned during the less than 5 minutes of real work done during the typical sprint session the 1-hour jog far out does the sprint.

BUT...when you compare the calories burned after the same two workouts over the next 48-72 hours, the long/slow jog doesn't even come close to the sprint. This is EPOC.

The amount of stress that sprinting puts on your body, and the amount of muscle/cell/tendon/ligament/bone rebuilding that it does causes a spike in energy consumption thus raising the rate of calories burned.

So it's run for an hour and only raise energy consumption during that hour, or sprint your ass off for ~5 minutes of total work and reap the benefits for up to three days later. Hmm...hard choice...

Sprinting = Strong/Powerful/Explosive

I don't know about you, but when I think of the prototypical Alpha Male, I think strong, powerful, and explosive.

Guess one way (besides heavy weight training) that will make you strong, powerful, and explosive?

You really don't need me to tell you it's sprinting right? I mean...the whole article is about sprinting...it just makes sense...

Anyway, your body has three main energy systems...the ATP-Creatine Phosphate System (ATP-CP), the Anaerobic System (aka Lactic Acid System) and the Aerobic system (aka the Oxidative System).

The ATP-CP system is used when you need a quick, explosive burst of energy. This system can only sustain activity for up to 10s, so by the time you reach top speed you're already about to lose it.

Next is the Lactic Acid system. This one still allows you to move quick and explosively, just not to the same degree as the ATP-CP system. But, this system can sustain quick movement for up to three minutes depending on the person and just how quick the movement is.

When you train for sprinting (short, intense bursts of running with full rest in between) you are able to manipulate these energy systems in two ways...

  1. You create are more efficient neural pathway from the brain to the muscle, allowing you to put more energy into explosively pushing off the ground. In any event that lasts less than 30s (hell...I'd even argue up to 60s) any wasted movement or inefficient movement can mean the difference between crossing the line first or crossing it sixth.
  2. By taxing these energy systems, and this is the important part, then giving them the time the need to full replenish, you can extend the amount of time they give energy to the muscles.

The ability to reach top speed as fast as possible and then the strength to support that speed for as long as possible is what competitive sprinting boils down to.

Sprinting = Increased Aerobic Capacity (huh???)

The third energy system, the Aerobic or Oxidative System isn't directly involved with sprinting. Essentially by definition, a sprint is over well before the Oxidative System has time to kick into full gear.

It plays more of a role in the longer sprints (400m/800m/1600m) than in the shorter sprints. The area where it has the biggest impact on sprinting is the rest period between sprints.

Unless you're person who enjoys running long distances (aka - a crazy person), the times when you're Oxidative System gets the most work is when you are resting between sets and recovering from a workout. Remember EPOC? That entire process is mostly run by the Oxidative System.

I'll be honest, I didn't believe it would be possible to improve my aerobic capacity without doing long distances either. But, the time between my last two Army PT tests I did nothing but sprints under 300m. In the last test I was able to run the 2-mile part in under 13:20. The time before that I was at 14:20. It works...trust me.

Sprinting = Breathtaking Hineys

It builds a great booty. Don't believe me? Go google Allyson Felix, Lolo Jones, Sanya Richards-Ross, Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, or Usafa Powell. I'll wait...

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See? Not only do these athletes have a hiney that is absolutely breathtaking, but they are in fantastic shape in general.

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Yes, these are world-class athletes and yes, some of it is genetic. But, you can go to any high school or college track meet and look at the people who come in at the back of the pack and you will STILL see impressive physiques.

These athletes are the ones who show you that it's not all genetics and that training can get you there. One of the other blogs I read even dedicated a whole post to sprinters booty's. Check it out, if for nothing else "butt" the picture...

Check back on Tuesday for a follow-up article on how to add sprints to your training. Until then, drop a comment about what you're experiences with sprinting are, or ask any random question you have.

Starting Blocks 

My 3 Balls

I have 3 balls. These balls go with me everywhere that I go. When I go to the gym, they're there. When I walk down to the beach, they are in tow. When I go to work, I carry them with me. If I'm going on vacation, they are the first thing I pack.

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These balls are an essentially a part of me that I refuse to leave behind. No matter the circumstances, these balls are mine and they mean the world to me.

They mean so much to me that I can't fathom the thought of keeping them hidden for any longer.

Here...look at my balls...

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What balls did you think I was talking about? Ohhhhh...you pervert.

Why I Carry These Balls

These tools (I'll refer to them as tools from here on out because I'm pretty sure I've used more than my fair share of references to my own genitals for the year) each have their own purpose when it comes to improving my physical abilities.

Let's start it of right and show you the biggest one first.

The Softball

I use this bad boy for rolling out my legs in place of a foam roller. There is nothing wrong with a foam roller, but after using one for almost a year I got to the point where even the hardest ones weren't doing it for me.

Plus carrying around a giant hunk of solid foam started to become a pain in the ass. So in comes the softball.

This is an indoor softball, so it's a tad bit softer than the regulation ball used for games, which will make using it at first a bit less painful. At this point I've used it for 3-4 months and will probably move to a regulation softball here pretty soon.

The best part of the softball is that it allows you to get into the nooks and crannies of where your glute and hamstring meet. For me, my booty is too bootylicious for a lacrosse ball or baseball to do any good. The softball is the perfect size to put enough pressure on the trigger points in the deep part of the upper hamstring/lower glute and small enough to be able to justify carrying it along in your carry on when traveling.

Lacrosse Ball

Like I mentioned earlier, the lacrosse ball is a bit too small for me to use on my entire leg. For some of you it might work just fine, but again, my booty is just too much for the lacrosse ball to make a difference for me.

With that being said, it's still a fantastic tool for the upper body and the foot. In the past few months I've begun sprinting much more than I have since high school, so the bottoms of my feet are a tad bit sore.

Fun fact - the bottom of your feet are some of the most concentrated areas of nerve endings in your body and your foot is made up of 20 individual muscles and 26 bones. By simply rolling out the trigger points of those muscles you can ease some pain and discomfort you might be feeling farther up your legs.

When I'm not using it on my feet I'm pressing it between my upper trapezius and the wall to keep my back/neck in tip-top shape.

Racquet Ball

This little fella is my all day, everyday companion pretty much. If I'm not bouncing it off of the wall, practicing my crossover, or tossing it back and forth between my hands I'm squeezing the shit out of it.

Does bouncing it up and down help my hand-eye coordination? Maybe, but honestly I usually just do it to pass the time.

Squeezing it though, is purely for improving my grip strength. Obviously it's not as impressive as rolling up a frying pan, but rolling up frying pan after frying pan can get pretty damn expensive!

I simply just squeeze it a bunch of times with all of my fingers, then work my through using my pointer-middle and then my ring-pinky. After that I'll attempt each finger individually. It gets harder as you move from the pointer through to the pinky, but that's the idea. Doing this while reading, driving, or just sitting in a meeting will most definitely help your grip strength.