Thinking About Running for Weight Loss? Try This Instead

Are you considering running for a weight loss routine? Running is a great way to improve cardiovascular health and improve your endurance. It's also a decent way to burn a few calories.

Sixty million Americans participated in running or jogging in 2017. Running seems to be the go-to activity for people beginning a new fitness program.

However, running for weight loss may not be as effective as you might think. One of the biggest problems is that running is an aerobic activity. Running can also become repetitive after awhile. Your body adapts to repetitive activities, which slows down fitness gains.

Lose Weight by Sprinting Instead

When you think of ways to lose weight, sprinting may not be the first exercise that comes to mind.

sprinter running for weight lossIf you look at the men or women in the final of the 100-meter dash at the Olympics, you'll notice that they all have the same lean, muscular physique. Their sculptured bodies are the product of hundreds of hours a year of performing a wide range of different exercises, which almost certainly includes sprinting.

It's important to keep your body working hard. That's why sprinting is a much better choice than running/jobbing. Running for weight loss is fine if you're just starting out or trying to build up your endurance.

But if you're wanting to shed pounds and build lean muscle, anaerobic activities should be an essential part of your routine. 

How Many Calories Does Sprinting Burn?

Sprinting 100-meters will burn less than ten calories. However, after sprinting, your metabolism rises as your body repairs muscle damage and replenishes nutrients to cells. This rise in metabolism remains high for hours after exercise and continues to burn extra calories.

sprinting running for weight lossWhile running does burn a good bit of calories, it also stops immediately after the run.

You'll burn more calories with a combination of sprinting/walking than just running for the same amount of time. Intense exercise burns calories for hours after finishing.

Studies also show that quick bursts of high-intensity exercise can increase insulin function, improve body composition, and reduce the risk of diabetes.

Warm up before Sprinting

Elite sprinters may spend an hour or more warming up before a competition. Even if you're not going to be competing in Tokyo 2020, warming up helps reduce the chance of injury and also burns extra calories.

man and woman stretching running for weight lossWhen warming up for sprinting, start by doing something to raise your body temperature. Either riding a stationary bike for 5-10 minutes or jogging are great ways to prime your body for the upcoming workout.

Next, stretch dynamically to increase blood flow to muscles and prepare them for sprinting. Some examples of dynamic stretches are leg swings, arm circles, and lunges.

Finish off your warm-up with some easy tempo runs, running 50-meters at around 50%-80% of your maximum speed.

Here's a sample warm-up

  • Jog two laps around the track (800-meters or 1/2 mile)
  • Ten leg swings side to side on each leg
  • Ten leg swings forward and back on each leg
  • 30-meters of skipping with arms swinging side to side
  • 30-meters of skipping with arms moving up and down
  • Five lunges with a twist on each side
  • Five standing quadriceps stretches on each side for 3 seconds each
  • Five upward dog to downward dog stretches
  • 50-meter sprints at 60%, 70%, 80%

Sprinting Program for Weight Loss

Here is an example of how you can progress your sprinting workouts. Other training plans may be equally as useful for weight loss. However, the key to any good training program is to challenge your body.

running for weight lossBefore you start your sprint program, find out how fast you can run 200-meters (half a lap on a running track) by timing yourself running this distance at maximum speed.

For your first workout, run six sets of 200-meter sprints at 75% effort, with a three-minute break between the sprints. For example, if you could run 200-meters in 30 seconds, you would run each sprint in about 40 seconds.

Over the next five weeks, make the program harder by increasing either the speed of each run or by decreasing the rest intervals.


  • Week 1 – 75% effort and 3-minute rest
  • Week 2 – 75% effort and 2.5-minute rest
  • Week 3 – 75% effort and 2-minute rest
  • Week 4 – 80% effort and 3-minute rest
  • Week 5 – 80% effort and 2.5-minute rest
  • Week 6 – 80% effort and 2-minute rest

After the sixth week, test your time again and start the program from the beginning using your new time to calculate your new percentages.

Cool Down and Recovery

After your workout, cool down with a light jog and some stretching. Cooling down reduces muscle soreness and damage. Also, try to consume a high protein food within an hour of working out.

Sprinting requires your legs to be fresh, so it's best to keep a day between your sprinting sessions. Try three non-consecutive days a week and add lower intensity workouts to your off days to keep your metabolism high and to quicken recovery.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on running for weight loss.