A 20-Minute Sprint That Will Change Your Life — And Increase It

Why are people so obsessed with running? Could it be the infamous “runner’s high” or the sheer fact it is supposed to be good for you? I have avoided running since I was younger. I picked up on my teenage instincts that sprinting was a far better choice. A few years ago I read an article on Peak Fitness, and it entirely validated my thoughts on sprinting.

Silhouette of person running at dusk
Photo by Official U.S. Navy Page via Flickr.

First, I want to ask you a question about your gym or a gym you have been to. Ever notice how crazed people look in the treadmill section? There is always a line at the treadmill when I have gone to the gym. The majority of people running are at record speed, and look like an aircraft about to take off. But the aircraft never actually takes off…for that entire hour or so that person is on the treadmill. (And yes, by this time, I am still waiting.)

Even though I am not going to make you fly, you might feel as though you are after you read this. And, you probably won’t line up at the treadmill anymore, either…

There is something better out there that’s easier, faster, and more convenient than running: sprinting. 

The particular model of sprinting I will be sharing is known as Peak Fitness. Peak Fitness is a name that Dr. Joseph Mercola used in admiration of the research by Phil Campbell on the growth hormone. Phil Campbell also contributed to research of super fast muscle fibers.

Peak Fitness is an exercise that increases your heart rate to a degree where you possibly couldn’t go anymore, and will need a resting period before you start up again. It’s basically a sprint regime. The goal is that you are pushing your maximum heart rate for only 30 seconds at a time, and then recovering, or resting, for 90 seconds.

It is essentially an anaerobic exercise that will require you to run as fast and as hard as you can for 30 seconds, and then stop, giving your body a full 90 seconds to relax. You would repeat this cycle eight times.

There is a three-minute warm up before you start the exercise and a two-minute cool down at the end. The warm up could essentially be jumping jacks or stretching. In the last two minutes, you should let your body chill out. In all, this will take about 20 minutes, but the actual “work out” is only about 4 minutes long. Cool, huh?

Dr. Mercola says the reason he uses the name Peak Fitness is because “if you graph your heart rate, you will see that it peaks 8 times during the workout.”

And, as always, be completely aware of your body and your limits. You do not have to do the eight total reps. You can work your way up. Do not be discouraged if all you can do is one! It is completely normal for beginners. In addition, this workout is meant to be done three times a week, 20 minutes a day. If you try to do this exercise more than three times a week, it might be harmful because your body needs time for recovery.

Super fast muscle fibers are used for sudden bursts of activity or sprinting. They are one of three muscle fibers we have in the body — the others are called the “slow” and “fast” muscle fibers. Super fast muscle fibers are the least “worked out” and the only one of our muscle fibers that can increase the growth hormone. They are ten times faster than the slow muscle fibers, and can only engage if we sprint or exert in a high intensity cardio workout.

What is the growth hormone? Also known as the human growth hormone or HGH, the growth hormone is a peptide (two or more amino acids linked by a peptide bond) hormone that helps people stay youthful by stimulating cell reproduction and regeneration. It is secreted from the pituitary gland. Dr. Mercola says that the human growth hormone “is the key for strength, health, and longevity.”

After the age of 30, our growth hormone starts declining. Now, even though this is not a factor for everyone, it is more likely after the age of 30 because people tend to “relax” a bit more and their physical workouts are not as strenuous.

Marathon runners actually decrease their fast muscle fibers because they are only using their slow muscle fibers. When you are doing any type of cardio or strength training, you are only working out your slow muscle fibers. This means your fast muscle tissues are being wasted away, so to speak. Only “short bursts,” and by bursts I mean like a firecracker, can you work out your fast muscle fibers and thus increase your HGH. Sweet.

Running isn’t inadequate, but you might be more interested in sprinting when comparing the health benefits and time you save during your workout.

Last Words:

Imagine running for 40 minutes, three or four times a week. That’s 160 minutes or over 2.5 hours. Peak Fitness only requires 20 minutes of your time, three times a week. There are many reported benefits from Peak Fitness and sprinting. (Yes, my friends, there are more benefits than just the amount of time required per week. More time to do school work! Pretty cool if you ask me!)

Sprinting and Peak Fitness Benefits

  1. Increases the Human Growth Hormone — reverses body’s internal clock, helping you increase libido, decrease fat, and rapidly build muscle
  2. Excellent for Heart and Lung Health
  3. Improves Insulin Sensitivity & Energy Use — “…alternate intense bursts of exercise with rest periods, you will improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar tolerance. This is partly because sprints decrease chronic inflammation and partly because the cells must adapt to more efficiently produce energy to keep you going.” – Poliquin Group
  4. Increases and Regulates Adrenaline Use
  5. Improves Muscle Tone
  6. Better Cognition and Memory Retention — studies show sprinting decreases inflammation in the brain and improves hormone balance. Brain plasticity increases with exercise, and so does blood flow, primarily in the hippocampus, which is a part of the limbic system known for learning and memory.
  7. Improves Metabolism
  8. Improves Circulation
  9. Firms Skin and Reduces Wrinkles
  10. Boosts Energy — The adrenal glands are also affected by this type of exercise, and they regulate energy levels and our response to stress.