If you are looking to improve your physical conditioning, sprint training is one of the best ways to go about doing so.
Many individuals prefer sprint training because it takes a lot less time than traditional forms of cardio that have you going for thirty to sixty minutes at a time and there are a great number of benefits that will be seen when you do this more intense form of sprint training workout.
One of the biggest benefits you'll get from sprinting is the EPOC effects it creates. This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption and is where the body will expend a great deal of calories returning the body back to its former state after the workout.
Because sprint training is so intense, this will contribute to a large calorie burn after you have finished the workout. To even further increase the EPOC that is seen, consider doing hill sprint training. Since this is even more intense in nature, it will further challenge your body.
Next, when you perform a number of sprint training workouts, the body will upregulate its ability to produce enzymes that are going to work at increasing the storage capacity of the muscle for energy substrates such as ATP.
This then has the corresponding effect of allowing you to work out harder for a longer period of time without fatigue setting in. Note though that this occurs when you are working more on the aerobic side of things, so while it is intense, you are still utilizing oxygen.
If no oxygen is present, you will only be able to last 5-20 seconds, regardless of how well conditioned you are (the better condition you are though, the harder you will be able to work during that time).
The next benefit you'll get with sprint training is its effect on phosphate metabolism. Phosphate creatine stores comprise a major component of the body's fuel source for muscular activity, so anything you can do to increase this is going to be beneficial.
Myokinase is an enzyme that is responsible for resynthesizing the energy from phosphate creatine, and with sprint training, it will increase its concentration within the muscle tissue by up to 20%.
The next adaptation that will occur after you've been doing sprint training for a period of time is that of glycolysis. This is the primary form of metabolism used during a 10 second all out sprint and contributes between 55 and 75% towards energy production during exercise.
Phosphofructokinase (PFK), an enzyme that catalyses the phosphorylation of the glycolytic intermediate fructose 6-phosphate), has also been shown to increase when sprint training is performed, along with the enzymes of lactate dehydrogenase and glycogen phosphorylase (other enzymes responsible for the glycolysis system).
Intramuscular Buffering Capacity
Finally, the last adaptation that's seen with sprint training is the buffering capacity of the muscle. During glycoglysis, various byproducts are created such as lactic acid, and when these accumulate, it causes the extreme feelings of fatigue in the muscle tissues.
This then forces you to stop exercising as the fatigue sets in and often will be the end of your workout.
Overtime, sprint training will increase your ability to buffer these byproducts so that you can then workout for a longer period of time while maintaining that intensity.
So, next time you're debating about whether to do a sprint training session or a moderate paced cardio session lasting for 40 minutes or so, opt for the sprint session.
The benefits you'll receive are far more numerous and fat loss will be kicked up a notch as an added benefit. Keep in mind that for these type of benefits to occur, you want your sprints to last somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 seconds to 40 seconds, with a work to rest ration of about 1:2. Repeat this process a total of 6 to 8 times and begin and end with a five minute warm-up and cool-down.