In CrossFit we already know the value of high intensity during training. You might have hugged the puke bucket at some point and for that, you deserve a fist bump. If you’re near me when you feel your lunch is about to make an encore, I’ll help. I’m not going to hold your hair, but I will elaborate on the texture and flavor of an egg-smoothie. That should move things along. But let’s go further than thruster-induced vomiting. Something is missing from your life.
What’s absent from your training program is both highly beneficial and cheap-as-free. Sprinting is one of the best ways to increase your metabolic capacity and build speed, power and strength. It’s as important to an athlete as it is to someone who does crimes.
I am speaking to all the CrossFitters out there that are missing the mark on the concept of sprinting. You may have incorporated running into your program. 200m and 400m sprints aren’t what I’m talking about. Those are highly important intervals, but let’s go for a shorter distance at even higher intensity.
Oh, you do that already (in metcons)? No you don’t. When a metcon has you do some task and “sprint” to the next task and so on, you know you limp-dick that sprint. You jog like a fat kid. You know who else does it? Methisguy. That’s an old CrossFit trick all of us figured out early on. “2 Minute Defense” is an example of a WOD where that happens. A bunch of awesome barbell shit then you are supposed to “sprint” 200 feet and repeat several times. If you actually sprinted, you’d be so tired; the rest of your barbell shit would be slow. And you’re overall time would suffer. Not a good strategy.
Let’s talk about real fucking sprints. The 40. The 100. Shit like that. Ever do some gassers? How about suicides? Death by 10m? That’s good stuff. You’ve done some of that before, but you should do it more often. By that, I mean at least once a week. I will take one day a week and skip a metcon in favor of sprints. I don’t do this at the gym because it’s better on an athletic field. Go to a nearby park or ball field and do your sprints. Bring cleats if you got ‘em. Your dog wants to go too. Take her bitch ass. My pup is a great training partner when there are no squirrels around.
Be aware that if you are the type to half-ass your warm up, this is certainly not the time to do it. You are more in danger of fucking yourself up from sprinting cold than just about any other thing. Jog a mile, do a couple Cindy rounds, whatever. Then start off at about 70% for the first 4 sprints. I usually start with straight 100m jobs, using the walk back as my rest. Whatever your sprint distances, the walk back is your rest.
Now you’re warmed up and ready to flip the fucking switch. Each sprint is done at 100% intensity. I’m talking about hard-ass work. You’ll be sucking wind on the walk-backs like a fat fuck. I prefer reciever-route distances worked into common pass patterns. I work the receiver route tree and defensive back drills. This will incorporate agility into the training. I do this because I’m a football dork who is dead serious about my pick-up TACKLEBALL games in the fall. You don’t have to do it that way; you’d get just as much benefit from sprinting good old 9-routes (aka straight-line sprints).
How many? It’s up to you. You may find you’re dead after 12 sprints. That’s a short and effective workout. As you build up adaptation week by week, increase the number of sprints. As you fatigue, don’t keep sprinting (to the point where you are just jogging). This defeats the point. You may find you will increase your endurance up to 30 or 40 sprints without losing intensity after a month of doing this. I’m talking about the concept of metabolic adaptation (supercompensation). If you’re not interested in the benefit of increasing your adaptation to sprints, just know that it will translate directly to your work capacity in metcons and no cornerback will be able keep up with you.
Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple gives his own recommendations regarding a sprint routine that incorporates the use of sandbags, and you can find it here. That’s a badass twist and it reminds me of the 2009 CrossFit Games where they had to do the sprints uphill with 35lb sandbags. Quite the asskicker, no? Take some sandbags to your local death hill and have fun.
So if you’re not trying to do this for a specific sport, why bother? The creation of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) will cause the body to continue to burn calories long after the work is done. Even dummies know high-intensity interval training is superior to conventional cardio or long-slow distance (LSD) running. Additionally, phosphate metabolism will improve your body’s ability to breakdown fat for better energy consumption which encourages weight loss. While those concepts are great, I don’t worry about that stuff because I already look good naked. Just ask your mom. I do care about the benefit of enhanced intramuscular buffering capacity which comes from sprinting. That causes your body to stifle lactic acid buildup so you can do more work, faster with a delay on that burning-muscle feeling. That will seriously help your metcons.
Listen to me on this: Sprints are your responsibility. Do them once a week. Your coach isn’t going to program them every week. Even if he did, you would probably skip it or go to open gym because barbell shit is funner. No one is going to argue that. Why does everyone take a rest day when the 5k shows up as the WOD? In the words of Drywall from forgingelitesarcasm.com, “I fucking hate running. It’s boring, and even worse, it’s free. Every time I run, I’m reminded of how I could be doing this on my own.”
But sprinting is not running. Huh? That’s right. Sprinting is like running, but faster. Boom. Put that on the back of a t-shirt. Anything that is faster is badass. Don’t believe me? Just look at spaceships. Besides all that, sprinting is like wiping your ass. If you don’t do either, you are bad at life.