In part six of this multi-part presentation covering 115 key insights about the Primal Endurance approach, we focus on the category of strength training and sprinting—an area many devoted athletes tend to fall short in, despite their importance and effectiveness, as they can deliver tremendous performance improvement in a relatively short time—if done properly.
But when you disregard them, this leaves a lot of potential on the table. There are many reasons athletes end up avoiding strength training and sprinting (which I will cover in this episode), but part of honoring the Primal Endurance approach is including these complimentary workouts and improving your aerobic function—and this episode will reveal how you can do that most effectively.
Strength training and sprinting will be covered in the “need to know” podcast.
This is where a lot of devoted endurance athletes fall short and don’t integrate these important types of workouts into their pattern.[00:25]
Improving your aerobic function will give you the most bang for your buck. [02:23]
Your body is forced to recruit the oxidative fast twitch muscle fibers. There are two types of these muscle fibers. One type is for explosive behaviors and the other more for longer duration. [05:42]
Doing some core work in the gym is important. If your core becomes fatigued when you are racing, you start to exhibit poor posture, your stride length shortens and you start to get tensions and aches in your lower back. [08:32]
Strength training can help athletes identify functional weaknesses. [10:57]
Many endurance athletes err by conducting what is called blended workouts. [13:01]
Endurance athletes with excellent cardiovascular endurance should focus on brief high intensity strength training sessions that increase raw strength and explosiveness. [16:39]
An extensive rest is appropriate and necessary to be explosive during the workout. [21:38]
Focus on brief high intensity sessions maintaining excellent technique. Strength declines more steeply than endurance with aging. Muscle strength correlates with healthy organ function. [22:41]
Primal essential movements represent a safe, simple effective, full-body workout sequence. [26:01]
Maximum sustained power training represents a cutting-edge strategy to improve absolute power and explosiveness. [28:07]
Get good at sprinting, and you get good at everything. Also helps with anti-aging. [31:36]
One of the most important benefits of sprinting is how it cuts you up like nothing else. [34:56]
A huge element of successful sprinting is you go there with a sprinter’s mindset that you are there to deliver. Use a consistent quality of similar time and perceived effort with sprinting workout. [38:41]
Sprinting in a pre-fatigued state is harmful for muscles and the central nervous system. [39:57]
A proper warmup entails dynamic movements that elevate your body temperature and lubricate your joints. Afterwards get a deliberate cool down. [42:01]
Running is the best sprinting choice because of the benefits of weight-bearing intense activity. [43:23]
The rest interval between sprints should be sufficient to ensure that respiration returns to near normal, muscles feel reinvigorated and mental energy is refreshed. [45:10]
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Welcome to the Return of the Primal Endurance Podcast. This is your host, Brad Kearns, and we are going on a journey to a kinder, gentler, smarter, more fun, more effective way to train for ambitious endurance goals. Visit primal endurance.fit to join the community and enroll in our free video course.
Greetings, Primal Endurance listeners. We are on show number six in the series of 115 things you need to know to be a Primal Endurance athlete. And I can’t wait to tackle this category titled Strength Training and Sprinting. This is where a lot of devoted endurance athletes fall short and don’t integrate these important types of workouts into their pattern. They can deliver tremendous performance improvement in a relatively short time if done properly. But when they’re widely disregarded, you’re leaving a lot of potential on the table. And I think one reason that we neglect these type of workouts when we’re hard-training endurance athletes is you don’t have the energy. And I know that was definitely my case when I was training and racing and traveling on the professional circuit. I just gave everything I had every day pretty much, and was constantly fighting to handle the training load of the endurance workouts that I was doing.
And so I couldn’t even imagine heading over to the gym and moving through, uh, the stacks of machines or whatnot because I was always tired and recovering from, uh, the previous days 85-mile bike ride or getting ready for the next day’s track workout or whatever. But I think if we can honor this overarching principle of primal endurance training, of effective endurance training, that you want to tone down the degree of difficulty, the stress score of your general workouts. And so most workouts you are capable of slowing down, making them a little bit more doable, a little bit less stressful, making sure that you’re maintaining a heart rate in the aerobic zone, boy, that can give you that opening to allocate some energy to these extremely effective complimentary workouts.
Now that said, the most bang for your buck in terms of improvement and heading toward your potential is going to be improving your aerobic function. And that is best handled by performing the sport specific workouts that facilitate your aerobic development. So if you wanna become a good long distance runner, you run at long distances at aerobic heart rates. Same with cycling, same with swimming. And then they all go together with that, cumulative training effect or that cross-training effect where you become an endurance machine. But the big void that we see with many athletes is they’re not working that low end sufficiently enough. So there’s a lot of medium type stressful workouts and a lot of recovery necessary, a lot of breakdown, delayed development due to muscle soreness, immune suppression, delayed recovery, things like that from workouts that are slightly too difficult. And so it’s a big pill to swallow to say, slow down and you’ll improve your aerobic conditioning. But of course, that’s been widely validated by the performances of the elite athletes in every endurance sport for the past 60 plus years.
Dating back to Arthur Lydiard.and his coaching the New Zealand Middle and Long Distance Runners in the early 1960s. So we know that over distance, comfortably paced exercise will build that aerobic engine better than anything. And then when you have a respectable level of aerobic conditioning, then you can make these stair step improvements where you’re jumping up to another level of performance by integrating strength training and sprinting and becoming more powerful, more explosive. And in general, we’ll get into this when we go down the list, but if you envision going into the gym and, uh, loading up the squat bar with a bunch of weight and going down and performing some squats until your muscles are burning, and you can only do eight reps or only do 12 reps, you are essentially simulating that muscular fatigue that occurs at mile 20 of the marathon or mile 60 in an 80 mile bike ride.
So you’re kind of short-cutting to this point where you’re putting the muscles under tremendous duress, short-term to failure. And that will definitely kick into gear and help you when you are out there at mile 60 on a bike ride or mile 20 on the run. But the thing is, it’s impossible to train that way. Frequently, doing the actual exercise, you can’t go out there and run 26 miles, uh, to get the training effect that occurs from mile 20 to mile 26. So we have to figure out different ways to challenge the body and to stimulate a fitness adaptation that will translate to improve performance from mile 20 to mile 26. Another quick example is when the slow twitch muscle fibers fatigue, for example, at around mile 20 of running the marathon and you get the sensation of slow twitch muscle fibers running outta gas, when you get that achiness in the joints, they might feel it in your hip flexors, your hamstrings, your lower back.
That’s when you’re getting really cooked and the slow twitches have had it. And so what happens under those circumstances, again, this is generalized and simplified, but your body is forced to recruit the oxidative fast twitch muscle fibers. So we have type two A fast twitch muscle fibers and type two B fast twitch muscle fibers. And the type two A are the purely explosive non oxidated fast twitch muscle fibers. And those are used for very brief explosive performance like jumping up in slam dunking, jumping over a high jump bar running the a hundred meter sprint, that kind of thing. But the oxidative fast twitch fibers are also capable of performing for longer duration. And in fact, you can kind of retrain your muscle fiber composition if you engage in a lot of endurance training. You’re going to teach those oxidative fast twitch muscle fibers to perform for longer duration.
Conversely, if you train for sprinting and you’re a track athlete and you’re doing an intense amount, you’re going to train those same, the same category of type two B oxidative fast twitch muscle fibers to perform more explosively, and they’re going to give away or give back some of their endurance capabilities and vice versa. Interestingly, you may have heard about the, um, uh, genetic testing where you can identify the muscle fiber makeup, the, uh, ratio or the percentage of slow twitch endurance fibers that you have to fast twitch explosive fibers. And I was shocked to discover when I did my testing at D N A fit that I had a 56%, uh, oxidative explosive muscle fibers to 44% endurance slow twitch fibers. Cuz here I was spending, years and years, uh, training as an endurance athlete trying to keep up with the high volume in the heavy load of endurance activity.
that was the protocol for the sport. I was competing in triathlon and it was always a struggle for me. And now I have this insight that I was more of a explosive oriented athlete who was trying to go perform in a predominantly endurance event. But it doesn’t preclude me from being competitive in an endurance event. It just would inform my training with a little more intelligence where I should have taken, uh, more downtime, more really, really easy days because the fast twitch muscle fibers perform exclusively, but they need more recovery time and not try to model, let’s say someone who was a really pure or a predominantly endurance athlete who could train all day, get up the next day, train again, get up the next day, train again, but maybe didn’t have like the foot speed to run a fast quarter or whatever the comparison would be, where you can see someone’s deficient in fast twitch explosive muscle fibers. So there’s some trainability to your muscle fiber composition as an interesting side note.
Okay. And before we continue on the tangent, we better get to the, the numbered list. So number one, strength training is essential to success in endurance sports. Putting your muscles under load by lifting heavy things, whether it’s it’s weights, machines, body weight resistance exercises, resistance tubing like the X three bar or the stretch cords, whatever it is. All this stuff stimulates positive hormonal adaptations and helps you preserve good technique and maximum power output as your muscles fatigue during endurance workouts. So let’s take some quick takeaway examples so you can understand, for example, doing some core work in the gym. Hey, what does this have, translate to me pedaling my bicycle up the hill or me succeeding in an ultra-marathon or a marathon run? Because what happens is if your, if your core becomes fatigued, somewhere out there during the performance, you start to exhibit poor posture, your stride length shortens, you start to get tension and ache and soreness in your lower back or wherever it’s transferred to your hip flexors, your weak areas that are not strong because you haven’t trained them in the gym or under resistance.
That’s when you’re going to lose maximum power output output and lose technique when you’re fatigued. So if you can preserve those things while fatigued, of course you’re gonna get fatigued during a peak performance effort. But if you can still trot along and still lift your legs, ankles off the ground, go through a good range of motion, fire those hamstrings, uh, that’s when you put the whole package together and envision yourself being, a total athlete or a strong athlete who’s capable in so many ways, and then directing everything to your peak performance event, that’s fine. If it’s an ultra-marathon run, of course most of your benefits are gonna come from, a sports specific training. But when that other stuff kicks in, that’s the difference between cratering and just falling apart out there on the course somewhere and holding it together, slowing down a, a fair amount, but not a disastrous manner.
Okay? Number two, strength training can help athletes identify functional weaknesses that lead to poor technique, overly stressful workouts, delayed recovery and greater injury risk as well, right? So if you go in and do like a basic assessment and we know there’s some research where people will say that you want the quads and hamstrings to be at about 75% ratio. So you want this hamstrings to be 75% as strong as your quads. Um, I think that’s an accurate notion that I’ve heard, uh, just recently and I wrote it down. Uh, but let’s just say for argument’s sake, I’m, I’m making a hypothetical that you want a certain ratio between quads and hamstrings strength, otherwise you’re prone to imbalances, uh, technique errors and so forth. And let’s say you go in and get assessed and your hamstrings are 40% as strong as your quads.
You know, you have a glaring weakness that’s going to show up down the road when you are training for your peak competitive event. So we wanna, uh, find out where might be my weak spots. It might even be your upper body musculature that can’t hold on to, uh, proper form while you’re jogging for three hours. And I remember waking up the day after hard racing triathlons and had extreme soreness in my trap muscles just from holding my arms and running for 10 kilometers at a fast pace. And so I had whatever muscle weakness presented itself when I was trying to perform at a high level. Not that there’s seemingly not a tremendous call to action for my traps while running 10 k, after swimming and biking, but there was enough that that was a glaring weakness in my musculature where I’d become totally sore after a triathlon .
I mean, after a weight training session, fine, you can understand you work those muscles hard. But why was this happening to me? It was just a weak area that I could address directly in the gym with some targeted exercises. So it’s helping identify your weaknesses.
Number three, many endurance athletes err by conducting what I call blended workouts. These are intended to deliver both a cardiovascular training effect as well as a strength training or a power aspect to it. Now, here’s the thing. Most fitness programming is indeed a form of a blended workout. And so, when you’re asking to put the individual through a well-balanced, fully functional workout experience, you’re gonna wanna hit the cardiovascular objective. You’re gonna want to hit the strength, power objective. You’re gonna wanna have some things in there that are building your balance, mobility, flexibility, whatever it is.
And so, CrossFit’s the best example. They proudly tout that this is a blend of, what do they call it? A, a power lifter, a gymnast and a sprinter or something like that. It’s in their workout, their, their marketing programming. And indeed you are developing aspects of those different, uh, athletic, uh, abilities during a single CrossFit session. And so you’re building endurance of course, because you’re working hard for the duration of the session, uh, taking a short break between climbing the rope climb to touch the ceiling, and then running around the block. Literally, that’s a lot of the, uh, CrossFit workouts have programming where you have to run around the block outside for a quarter mile, come back, then grab the Olympic bar and do some lunges or do whatever the protocol is asking for strength for balance and all that stuff.
And so if you had, you know, only you could only do one type of training, uh, for the rest of your life, and you wanna be well-balanced, yeah, you’re gonna pick sort of a blended workout. Think about a step class or a bar class where you’re putting your muscles under duress. You’re doing some balancing, and of course you’re getting that cardiovascular effect. That’s wonderful. But in the case of a, uh, devoted endurance athlete who is putting in a lot of time on the road building the cardiovascular system in these specific endurance workouts, your purpose in the gym might be recalibrated to focus more on the missing elements of your training protocol. And so that would be building strength explosiveness. Okay? Maybe balance mobility flexibility would be super important as well, where you’re doing one-legged Bulgarian split squats. So you’re working on balance as well as isolating, uh, the muscles and building up the glutes, the hamstrings, things that are, uh, challenged during endurance training.
So that’s the, uh, the idea here is don’t worry about the cardiovascular elements of your strength training session, cuz you’re already getting an A plus in that class, but you might be getting a C minus or a Dplus in the strength and power scores on your report card. Uh, a quick example then, if you’re designing a complimentary strength training workout for an endurance athlete who puts a lot of time in on the road is perhaps take long rest periods between your sets so that you can really be explosive and powerful rather than kind of challenging your recovery and your cardiovascular system with short rests, thereby becoming less powerful and less explosive because you haven’t had appropriate rest time. And we’re gonna talk about maximum sustained power training shortly on some new bullets. Okay? What happens when you go for this blended effect is you fall short of developing the absolute power that endurance athletes are most efficient in.
Number four, endurance athletes with excellent cardiovascular endurance should focus on brief high intensity strength training sessions that increase raw strength and explosiveness. Emphasis should be on maintaining excellent technique. And the workout ends, or the set ends when fatigue inhibits you reaching maximum power level. So let’s say you’re doing a set of sprints up the stadium stairs, and on the first one you time yourself and it takes 14 seconds to get from top to bottom with excellent form and power, and you’re really launching off those stairs, you’re taking two at a time, whatever it is. And so that’s your performance standard, then you’re gonna take your time, walk slowly down the stairs, shake it off, catch your breath, and then go explode for another ascent of the staircase. What we wanna see in this example is another 14 second effort indicating that you have performed equally well, equally explosively, uh, from the first rep.
And we wanna see that on the third and the fourth and the fifth and the sixth. And at some point when fatigue kicks in, you’re going to have trouble hitting that 14 second standard. So on the seventh one, if you get up to the top, you felt like you gave it a good effort, and it says 16 seconds, you know, that is a great time to end the workout because fatigue has inhibited your maximum power output. So the quick example of sprinting, and again, taking the recovery necessary so that you can knock out six awesome a scents of the staircase rather than confuse the issue. We’re so programmed to appreciate the importance of interval training, uh, HIIT workouts and so forth where they’re asking you to, uh, uh, rush up the stairs and then recover for only 30 seconds, and then do it again and do it again.
And of course, it’s gonna be a challenge and it’s going to, um, have a, a stimulate a fitness adaptation, but it might not be the optimal one when we’re looking at this big picture of taking an endurance machine and trying to get it a little more explosive. Okay? It’s kind of fun too, where you can really act like a sprinter, get that mindset right, where you’re going for explosiveness and power and you’re not so worried about being the toughest guy to tow back onto the starting line faster than everybody else because you recover so quickly from high intensity effort. And this was a huge mistake that I made for many years when performing my sprint workouts. And as I started to pay more and more attention and redirect my athletic goals to, uh, those associated with sprinting and brief explosive effort, like high jumping, I would go and do my sprint workouts and I generally sprinted a hundred meters, a hundred yards across the football field, and did a set of, uh, six to eight of them was my usual template workout.
But what I did for a long time was I’d perform an all out sprint, you know, really going fast, whatever, 95% effort, not crazy, but I, I’d hit it hard and then, I’d catch my breath and probably only 20 or 30 seconds later, I would toe the line and sprint back in the other direction. And I was capable of doing it. I put in good performance due to my endurance background and my ability to recover quickly. But what happened was the workout was excessively stressful due to the short rest periods. And, I most likely lost explosiveness in the final few reps because I wasn’t resting enough and I wasn’t forcing myself to get to the starting line and do another rep, uh, under pure torture circumstances. I kind of felt like, all right, let’s go. Let’s, you know, my mindset is that of an endurance athlete, I’m ready to go again, I’m gonna push it and I’m gonna throw down, I’m out here, I’m psyched up, I’m at the track.
It’s a special day, and all that’s wonderful until , the 12 hour, 24, 36, 48 hour mark, where I realized later that the workout was too stressful and it’s prompting too much recovery time, or my calves are really sore the next day. And so I have to limp around due to the effort I made the previous day. So when I was enlightened by my friend, Dr. Craig Marker, who wrote the most fantastic article, uh, titled HIIT Versus Hurt, uh, h I i t, that’s the familiar acronym, high Intensity Interval Training versus Hurt. And that’s his take on it, his perspective, uh, honored by many of the leaders in the fitness scene these days, were, were evolving to this concept of, uh, what is, uh, titled high intensity repeat training. So instead of hit, we’re talking about H I R T, where the repeat stands for repeating that explosive performance every time and hitting the same performance standard with, by the way, the same perceived degree of difficulty.
So back to that stairs example, what I don’t want you to do is have to try super hard or extra hard on efforts number four, five, and six, just to get to the top in 14 seconds. That’s not the intended purpose of the workout. And so when you start to adopt this mentality of an explosive athlete of an Olympic sprinter and taking exquisite care of your body and monitoring very carefully for an breakdown in technique or increase in perceived exertion or decrease in performance standard, that’s when you know it’s time to end the workout. An extensive rest is appropriate and necessary to be explosive during the workout. So when I changed my protocol to a six to one rest to work ratio, I responded much better to the workouts. I was able to do them more frequently because I wasn’t so broken down after. And all it meant was, Hey, if I sprint for 10 seconds or 15 seconds, I’m gonna rest for, uh, 60 to 90 seconds after or two minutes if I sprint for 20 seconds. You get it?
Okay. So that was another nice long explanation. And then we’re gonna jump back into the list. So that was number four, focus on brief high intensity sessions, maintain excellent technique and monitor your perceived exertion to keep it level. Number five, endurance athletes over age 40 will particularly benefit from strength training since strength declines more steeply than endurance with aging. So in other words, you preserve your endurance, your cardiovascular abilities longer than that absolute strength, power explosive. And that stuff really starts to decline. You’ve heard all kinds of different stats. I don’t like to traffic in these averages because I’m sure a lot of the research is done on the average person who loses 1% of their strength per year or something like that.
I’d rather ignore that crap and realize that if I can get into good training protocol at whatever age, uh, I’m going to preserve a lot of strength and perhaps even get stronger than I was five years ago or 10 years ago due to my training patterns and irrespective of my chronological age. Okay? So when you’re over 40, that’s when strength training really becomes important. And they also the workouts when done correctly as we’ve dis as we’ve been talking about, deliver a profound anti-aging effect by preserving muscle mass and optimizing adaptive hormones. So this age-related decline in strength and muscle mass is a huge, huge deal. Uh, when you get into, um, disease risk, it’s called sarcopenia, that’s the age related loss of muscle mass, and it represents the essence of aging. And now many leading experts like Dr. Peter Atilla, Dr. Tommy Wood, so many people are talking about this where the preservation of lean muscle mass is the essence of aging gracefully. Robb Wolf had his epic one liner during our interview on the B.rad Podcast when he says, if you want to live longer, lift more weights and eat more protein.
And Sisson has been talking about this for many years and walking his talk by preserving an impressive amount of lean muscle mass, even at age 67, by putting his body under resistance load on a regular basis and doing brief explosive all out sprints. So anything you can do to preserve that muscle mass as you age is going to keep you metabolically healthy. And that’s an interesting concept, uh, promoted strongly by the, uh, the bodybuilder power lifter and, uh, PhD, Layne Norton, uh, kind of a controversial guy. He says some, um, you know, uh, uh, uh, high impact statements and, people are, you know, giving, uh, a strong opinion about what he’s saying. Uh, but that’s a really strong point that he makes, that if you are well muscled, we can predict with great accuracy that you are metabolically healthy because muscle correlates with healthy organ function, and it also correlates with a, uh, healthy level of body fat. So the more muscle you have, the less likely you are to have excess body fat, especially visceral fat. And then if you’re losing muscle mass, you most likely are, uh, changing over into someone that carries excess body fat.
Okay, number six, the primal essential movements represent a safe, simple, effective, full body workout sequence consisting of pushups, pullups, squats, and planks. A series of progression exercises allow athletes of all fitness levels to perform an appropriate number of reps and increase competency over time. So the progression exercises, what we’re talking about is let’s take a pull up, which is a pretty challenging exercise. Um, the under over, uh, for a lot of females is zero, right? So if you can do one pull up as a female, that is a pretty high fitness level, it’s no joke to be able to hoist your body up and over a bar your chin up to the bar bar. And so pull-ups are not gonna be a great exercise if you can only do between zero and one. So what we have with the progression exercises is, for example, a chair assisted pull-up where you have your feet on a stool or a chair, something that you can push off with as necessary to raise your chin up over the bar. And so you, the goal here is to use your arms as much as possible, but go through the complete range of motion of the exercise and complete a set of six or 12 pull-ups or whatever’s appropriate.
And so you’re still challenging the lats, the biceps, the triceps, but you’re getting over the bar as needed, with a chair assisted pole up, we have a pole assisted squats where you’re holding onto a pole or a railing or whatever you need, and you can lower down into a deep squat position with assistance with your balance, uh, using the pole and then trying to rely on these less and less. Same with an elevated pushup like a chair pushup where, uh, you’re going down, your hands are on the chair and your body’s at let’s say a 45 degree angle rather than starting on the ground with your hands on the ground and doing a pushup that’s much more difficult. So you wanna get the correct, uh, muscles engaged, going through the full range of motion, and then work toward, uh, eventually performing what we call the baseline movement. So that would be a proper pullup, a proper pushup, and so forth.
Number seven, maximum sustained power training. M S P represents a cutting edge strategy to improve absolute power and explosiveness. These sessions involve popular functional movements like deadlifts, squats, or leg presses where you pick a relatively challenging weight and you perform a set of minimal reps. So let’s say you start out with your deadlift bar with 200 pounds, you’re competent in the gym, you’re working up to it, and now you can, you’ve warmed up and now you’re ready for an M S P set. And so you grab that bar and you do only four reps, and then you stop, you rest for a bit, you come back and you do another short set. Let’s say you can perform four reps comfortably. You stop again, you come back and you do a set of three, you stop again, another set of three, then you do a set of two, another set of two, another set of two.
So what’s happening here, instead of doing these regression sets where the first time to the bar you do 12 reps to failure, and then you rest and you come back and you do another set, but you can only do seven this time, and then you go for a third set, even though you’re kind of tired and you only get four on the third set. That’s kind of a typical approach to where you’re just, you know, maxing out on however many sets it takes, and you’re going maximum reps to failure each time. And with the M S P and these shorter sets, the ideas that you’re preserving maximum explosive power more easily because you’re resting more frequently, and you’re not going to complete failure on that first set of four, nor on that second set of four, nor on that third set of three, nor on that four set of three, right?
But guess what happens if you total up the total amount of work performed? In my quick example, the latter example of a of regular style workout, I said, Hey, I got 12 on the first one, then I got seven, then I got four. So that’s, uh, 23 total reps on that 200 pound bar. And then when we add up four plus four plus three plus three plus three plus two plus two plus two plus two,. Did I count 17? A 25? That’s about 27, 28, 29 30 reps, right? Uh, even going to the end with one rep, one rep, one rep, whatever it is, uh, remaining explosive and most notably leaving that same weight on the bar rather than taking off weight as you get tired. So the whole deal here is preserving maximum sustained power throughout the many sets of an exercise. And why are these so great for endurance athletes?
Number seven, M S P sessions enable you to lift more total weight than the traditional approach, whether that be lifting light weights with high reps, or performing, like I said before, using a heavy weight and going till failure with only a few sets until you’re, until you’re blown out. So the MSP strategy is to lift that maximum weight or go home so you never reduce weights and you end the workout gracefully when it starts to become difficult to do a set of two reps or what have you, right? You know, when you’re, you’re kind of running out when the rep count is going down, the sets are, you know, dwindling, but in that graceful manner where you’re still explosive. Okay?
Number nine, all out sprinting is widely disregarded by mileage obsessed endurance athletes who don’t see the connection between short sprints and endurance performance. However, becoming competent in sprinting will improve endurance performance in many ways. Reduce perceived fatigue, enhanced fat metabolism, enhanced mitochondrial function in oxygen utilization, improved muscle buffering capacity, and strengthened muscles and connective tissues. We could go after these one by one and explain what I mean here. But it’s pretty simple. When you get good at sprinting, you get better at performing at all intensity levels, being low sprinting. So just take for example, the first one, reduce perceived fatigue. If you can handle running around a track at high speed, your brain, when you start to run at your 10 K pace in the next race, it feels easier in every way because you’ve told your central nervous system, you’ve told your muscles to fire in a more explosive, more challenging, more powerful manner, and now you’re just backing off. But if you never sprint boy, um, you know, going out and doing a a race pace workout can be seemingly a higher level of perceived exertion because you’ve never gone faster than that, right?
And then when you up-regulate all these systems like your fat metabolism, your mitochondrial function, your oxygen delivery, you’re working it to maximum, of course it becomes better at all lower levels of intensity. Simple as that. More details in the book of course, but I think you get the message, get good at sprinting, and you get good at everything. And it certainly, certainly is a shortcut if you do it properly. So the benefits of a single sprint workout, and this is validated by science, sometimes it’s taken outta context or it’s blown up outta proportion, uh, when they say, you know, one sprint workout’s better than, uh, hours of exercise at a lower pace. Uh, but in many ways it has relevance because, um, this is how the body responds to training. It has adaptive processes that kick in, uh, after the workout. And so you become a fitter human with a single sprint workout to a much greater extent than doing one jogging session or perhaps even 10 jogging sessions by many accounts.
But one account that this does not apply to, and this is where I get frustrated with people saying, HIIT workouts are way better than cardio. It doesn’t account for specific preparation for a competitive goal, right? And so, you can be a great sprinter and head out to the starting line for a long distance bike ride or triathlon or marathon. And good luck with that cuz that is not gonna happen for you. And you know, look at Usain Bolt. If you asked him to run a mile or forget about that, a 5k, wonder what would happen, probably not primed for a top performance, who knows? Maybe, maybe he’d get through it, okay. Just from his amazing level of physical conditioning. But I think you get my point.
Number 10, sprinting like strength training delivers potent anti-aging effects by flooding the bloodstream with adaptive hormones and actualizing the anti-aging maxim of use it or lose it.
Number 11, maximum intensity sprinting significantly increases your resilience to physical and psychological fatigue at lower intensity levels. See, that’s why I was talking about how well written, thank you, Brad. Okay. Your muscles regenerate energy faster through improved calcium potassium pump function and your central nervous system recalibrates so that slower paces feel easier. Number 12, one of the most important benefits of sprinting is how it cuts you up like nothing else. That’s a quote from Mark Sisson. And nothing cuts you up like sprinting. And this is no joke because the genetic signaling that occurs from an all out sprint workout is so profound and dwarfs the signaling from any other workout you get, especially when we’re talking about high impact running sprints on flat ground. So we need that impact trauma to get the maximum benefits of increasing bone density in increasing connective tissue resiliency, and also sending the signals to reduce excess body fat.
And the signals come because the penalty for carrying excess body fat when running at full speed is dramatic. It is, factors more than the penalty for carrying excess body fat, for example, sitting on a bicycle seat and pedaling for a hundred miles on flat ground or jogging, shuffling along for a marathon run, correct. Excess body fat is not gonna help your performance and it’s indeed gonna hinder your performance when you shuffle along for a five hour marathon, you could probably run a 4:45 if you had, uh, less overall body fat, but in sprinting, I mean, it’s ridiculous. Think about, uh, carrying that when you’re trying to run at 27 miles an hour. You’ve probably heard the quip from me or Sisson. Have you ever seen a fat sprinter ? And the answer is no. When you’re talking about a sprinter of any competency, even starting at the high school level, collegiate level, and of course the elite level and no, we don’t see fat elite marathon runners.
But when we’re talking about recreational participants and the propensity for carrying excess body fat, that’s how the bloody book starts. The Primal Endurance starts with a cartoon of the elephant in the room. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. And there’s an elephant wearing a singlet with a race number and a bunch of other endurance athletes. And there’s a common tendency for endurance athletes to carry excess body fat. And sprinting is one way that you can address this thing very quickly, of course, going hand in hand with dietary intervention. So primal adapted eaters who experience stalled weight loss progress can send an intense message to the brain to ramp up fat metabolism as an adaptive response to sprinting. And the effect continues for many hours after the workout. People are bantering about different concepts. Your’e burning, uh, Cynthia Monteleone, my recent podcast guest talked about how you are continuing to burn fat at an accelerated rate for two hours after a sprint workout to the tune or to the extent that a short sprint workout has equal impact as a two hour run.
So like you finish the sprint workout, you’re driving home or walking home ideally, or pedaling your bicycle home and you’re still burning calories at an accelerated rate as if you were just running for two whole hours. Uh, Dr. Maffetone cites research that the metabolic effects of a workout last for up to 72 hours after the workout. So you are a calorie burning machine if you sprinkle in some high intensity sprint workouts into your session. And we’re getting close to the end, but we got a few more fun ones to wrap up the sprinting and strengthtraining.
Number 13, endurance athletes must adopt a different mindset for sprint workouts, rejecting the struggle and suffer ethos of endurance in favor of striving for consistent quality performances. Perform at max with perfect technique or go home and workouts end when time gets slower, when form gets compromised, when perceived exertion rises. And you get the point I already made it. That’s a huge, huge element of successful sprinting as you go there with that sprinter’s mindset that you are there to deliver an outstanding effort with excellent technique and you’re done, if anything, falls off accordingly.
Number 14, consistent quality sprinting means a similar time and similar perceived exertion for each effort. If it come, if it becomes harder to deliver the same time or if time slows at the same perceived exertion, that’s when the workout ends. I’ve already said that and it doesn’t hurt to repeat it and get that stuck in your brain because it really is difficult to depart from that struggle and suffer mentality and into this wonderful new mindset of being an explosive peak performer. And I relate my journey with my sprint workouts and not resting enough cuz I thought I was a badass. So enough of that people
Number 15, sprinting in a pre-fatigued state is not only harmful for muscles, but also the central nervous system. Athletes should only sprint when 100% rested in energized to deliver a peak performance. Extensive warmup and technique drills should be performed before delivering maximum efforts. And you’ll get plenty of instruction on how to conduct a sprint workout properly in the online course. It’s super important that you don’t just head over to the track, uh, jump the fence in my case cuz uh, most of the tracks were closed during quarantine. I’m so used to jumping the fence. Anyway, , uh, it’s very important that you don’t just head over there and start running fast. And so you need a lot of dynamic stretching. A lot of warming up might even be a period of foam rolling or doing some, some prehab as they call it. ome wind sprints.
These are brief accelerations and you really wanna be deliberate in the manner that you conduct the workout and you only wanna do it when you feel great. And so there are quite a few occasions where I will head over to the track for an intended sprint workout and I will get, uh, somewhere into the warmup such as my technique drills that are pretty challenging. And I always do them before I go into the main set of sprints. And if those don’t feel great, if I feel some tightness, stiffness, dead legs, whatever, I will get that message and I will have to skip the workout entirely or curtail it way back from what I thought I was gonna do when I left my notepad at home and, uh, decided that today was the day I was gonna do this X type of workout. So you always have to be willing to adapt on the fly and only go fast when you’re ready to go. Why is it harmful to central nervous system? Guess what? If you are not feeling tops and you go out there and try to sprint, you are teaching your central nervous system to run more slowly, you are embedding that message into the brain and the neurons. And so that’s why we don’t wanna sprint in a pre-fatigue state.
Number 16, a proper warmup entails dynamic movements that elevate your body temperature, lubricate your joints so you don’t hear any of that cracking and creaking, and get your central nervous system focused on good technique with form drills. And that’s what the skipping drills were all about. I have so much content on YouTube that you can find. Just go to my YouTube page, Brad Kearns.
And there is a playlist called Primal Fitness, and I’ll get you over to all kinds of different technique drills, uh, centered on skipping, which is the preeminent sprinting technique drill. Finally, a deliberate cool down will minimize the stress impact of the session and facilitate faster recovery. No abrupt endings allowed. You especially wanna make sure that you give, uh, the body time to gracefully recalibrate back to homeostasis, and that will, uh, minimize the stress impact or the stress score of the workout and the body does not like to abruptly stop. So always, um, cooling down appropriately right after you’re done sprinting. But also another added tip I’ll add under this category is that you wanna remain more active throughout the day after a high intensity sprint workout. And that’s the best way to facilitate recovery, is to walk around more, take little breaks from work and do some stretches, some dynamic stretches. Much, much better than sitting around because you worked out so hard and now you’re gonna take it easy the rest of the day.
Okay, number 17 and eighteen’s in the last one. So thanks for hanging in there for this very important section of Insights: 115 things you need to know. Running is the best sprinting choice due to the benefits of weightbearing intense activity. I mentioned that a little bit earlier. If you have joint or injury concerns or specific competitive goals, you can sprint on low or no impact exercises. I talked about stairs. So you can progress, let’s say from starting with bicycle sprints, no impact. And then you can eventually progress to running uphill or running upstairs and then eventually aspire to throw in a sprinting on flat ground into your overall training picture. I feel like it’s a fundamental human aptitude that we should all develop the ability to sprint.
And I talk about this ideal template of sprints for just about everyone, especially an endurance athlete who’s not training for the Olympics. And the template that I like to convey is you are performing four to eight reps of a sprint lasting between 10 and 20 seconds with a six to one rest to work ratio. And with running being the hardest running on flat ground, you’re going to trend to the low side of 10 seconds. Whereas if you’re doing bicycle sprints, you can certainly get away with doing, 20 second sprints and maybe you’re going all the way out there to do eight reps. Where with running you’re only doing four reps of 10 seconds and that’s seems like a ridiculously short workout, but if you do it right, boy can have tremendous fitness impact.
And finally, the last one in this section and for the show, the rest interval between sprints should be sufficient to ensure that respiration returns to near normal, muscles feel reinvigorated and mental energy is refreshed. This will probably be in that six to one recommendation. So if you sprint for 10 seconds after a minute of rest, you should feel pretty good. You sprint for 20 seconds, you get two minutes of rest. And when I say rest and people write in, what do you mean by rest? Well, walk around, you know, keep moving. It’s not sitting on your butt. You’re better off to keep the body moving, the blood circulation, uh, but also, physically resting and then also feeling, uh, psychologically refreshed when you step to the starting line to perform another sprint. So you wanna be focused, concentrating, and if you notice your minds start to wander or you’re starting to feel like a negative attitude, like complaining like, oh, this is so hard, I wish I was done. Those kind of things are also indicators of central nervous system fatigue.
So yeah, maybe your hamstrings are starting to cramp up, but if your brain is starting to cramp up in that way that I described, that’s also a good time to end the workout and end the show. Yes, please pay proper attention to strength training and sprinting. It’ll have so many benefits for your overall endurance experience. And thanks for listening. Can’t wait to continue on with this great series and you can tap into these for reminders anytime and going back and getting the 115 things locked in. The next show will be in the category of complimentary movement and lifestyle practices. Take care. Till then,
I hope you enjoy this episode and encourage you to check out the Primal Endurance Mastery course at primalendurance.fit. This is the ultimate online educational experience where you can learn from the world’s great coaches and trainers, diet, peak performance and recovery experts, as well as lengthy one-on-one interviews from several of the greatest endurance athletes of all time, not published anywhere else. It’s a major educational experience with hundreds of videos, but you can get free access to a mini course with an ebook summary of the Primal Endurance approach and nine step-by-step videos on how to become a primal endurance athlete. This mini course will help you develop a strong, basic understanding of this all-encompassing approach to endurance training that includes primal aligned eating to escape carbohydrate dependency and enhanced fat metabolism, building an aerobic base with comfortably-paced workouts, strategically introducing high intensity strength and sprint workouts, emphasizing rest, recovery, and annual periodization. And finally, cultivating an intuitive approach to training. Instead of the usual robotic approach of fixed weekly workout schedules, just head over to Primalendurance.fit and learn all about the course and how we can help you go faster and preserve your health while you’re at it.