is Sprinting a Great way to lose weight

Is Sprinting a Great Way to Lose Weight and Get in Shape?

is Sprinting a Great way to lose weight

Is Sprinting a Great way to lose weight and get in shape?

Answer:  No.  It sucks.

These are the main claims for sprinting you can find online, and each one is bullsh*t:

Claim #1: It’s time efficient – meaning many calories and much fitness in short time. 

Truth #1: in reality sprinting burns fewer calories than walking per minute.

Claim #2:  Boosts your metabolism for 24-36 hours. 

Truth #2:   Misleading.  The “boost” is 20-30 calories in TOTAL.  Not 20-30 calories per hour, but in total after the hour of vomit inducing sprints.  This is 3 almonds worth of calories.

Claim #3: Olympic caliber sprinters have amazing bodies, so if you do just 5% of what they do you’ll look basically the same. 

Truth #3: Olympic caliber sprinters do have amazing bodies, but, come on, do you really think that a few hours per week of sprinting for someone in their 30’s, 40’s, or 70’s will replicate the body of a 20 year old who trains 30-40 hours per week?

Claim #4: Distance runners are super skinny, so this means that walking and jogging will evaporate your muscles. 

Truth #4: To look like an elite distance runner you would need to run 140 miles per week.  If you can find the restraint to run less you will be ok.

Medium Dive

The above is a quick overview, and below is a medium dive (nobody has time for deep dives LOL). So once again I’ll ask? Is Sprinting a Great way to lose weight and get in shape? Nope.

#1. Time Consuming or Time Efficient?

Olympic caliber sprinters rest for 1 min per 10 meters covered.  (If that sounds like too much rest, then it’s been a long time since you have done actual sprinting.)  Running tracks are usually 400 meters, which is ¼ mile.  If you’re a fast non-sprinting adult you can cover 100 meters in about 20 seconds.  This much rest means ¼ mile will take 40 min.  The tortoise is going to win!

Since we’re impatient, and in better sprinting shape than Usain Bolt, let’s speed things up by cutting the rest by 2/3rd.  These short rest periods mean you can now cover 1 mile in about an hour.  In all seriousness, this will be the worst hour of your life: with rest periods this short, you will vomit, and you’ll need a 10-12 hour nap afterwards.  If you ever repeat this workout, it will be 1-2 times per week at most. So, Is Sprinting a Great way to lose weight and get in shape? Nope!


  • In a one hour walk you can cover 2.5 miles at a saunter, 3 at a purposeful pace, and 3.5 if you hustle. 
  • 2.5 miles of walking burns more calories than 1 mile of sprinting
  • After walking you won’t need to vomit, nor will you need double your normal sleep. 
  • After walking your legs will likely be less sore, whereas after sprinting your legs will be in agony for about a week. 

#2. Metabolic Boost

The metabolic boost of all exercise occurs via EPOC.  EPOC is excess postexercise oxygen consumption, or the “afterburn.”  Low to moderate intensity exercise yields a 7% boost in total calories expended, and extremely high intensity activity yields up to a 14% boost in total calories burned.

Let’s use the example above: 60 minutes of walking vs sprinting where we generously assume 1,600 meters (1 mile) of sprint work with a 150 pound woman.  The mile of sprinting will burn 113 calories.  The 3 miles of walking 249.

If we add in the EPOC we get 148 calories in total (sprinting + EPOC) for the sprinting, and 266 calories in total for the walking.  If our walker had worn a 20 pound vest (vests are the bests!) she would’ve burned 301 calories if you include EPOC. So, Is Sprinting a Great way to lose weight and get in shape? Nope!

#3 & 4.  Body Like A Sprinter or a Marathoner

Elite sprinters peak at age 25, and elite marathoners peak at age 27.  They have also training 30+ hours per week for 10+ years.  If you do even 5 hours of their sport’s training for 10 years you (nor I) will not look like them when we’re a decade older.

Elite athletes of any sport or position all tend to look similar because different sports require different bodies shapes to be elite.  Examples:

  • Elite football players have larger muscles because survival and success in collision sports requires enough muscle to hold your joints together on impact.
  • Elite distance runners are super thin because being as light as possible is essential for running 10, 20 or 30 miles at about 4min 15sec per mile.
  • Elite sprinters have more muscular bodies because the physics of sprinting require more muscle mass – especially the upper body to counterbalance the rapid turnover of the legs.

A marathoner with big arms will not run 26.2 miles in under 2hr20min (slowest time to be elite), and a sprinter with toothpick arms will never run 100 meters in <10 seconds.  You can criticize what elite looks like, but it won’t change what is required to be elite in a given sport.  It bears repeating that both types of runners – sprinters and distance – have been training 30+ hours per week for 10+ years, and are in their 20’s. So, Is Sprinting a Great way to lose weight and get in shape? Nope!

Bottom Line

Is Sprinting a Great way to lose weight? Nope! When it comes to getting your steps in (or cardio, or NEAT, or whatever you’d call it) low to moderate activity is a winner because you can do more of it, more often without crushing your energy level.  Sprinting burns more calories per mile, but it requires so much rest and is so taxing that you can’t do enough to match the calorie burn of walking at a moderate pace.  You also can’t do a soul crushing sprint workout every day.  Whereas you can (and should) walk daily, and that walking will generally help your legs recover faster from your strength workouts.

New here? We’d love to meet you! Book your free Intro Call with a member of the team now. We offer custom fit personal training for women. All of our sessions are about an hour long and will be a full body strength training session every time. The first step is to set up a quick Intro Call to see if we are what you are looking for! We will help you get in lose weight and get in shape!

The author, Josef Brandenburg is the co-owner and a coach at True 180 Personal Training, Charlotte’s most effective studio for women. We are changing the way fitness is done to get you the results you deserve!

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