Sprinting: Why You Should Do It

In a previous article, we discussed two elements of sport that are not commonly trained at local CrossFit affiliates: sprinting and multiplanar movement. We dove into the concept of multiplanar movement and why it’s important in a previous article, so we want to move on and discuss the concept of sprinting – why you should do it and why it will benefit you as a CrossFit athlete. 

Sprinting is a skill that is not commonly included in a CrossFit box’s regular class programming. However, if you want to be a well-rounded athlete, then it is vital that you develop the ability and capacity to sprint. In fact, pure sprinting events have shown up at the CrossFit Games, multiple CrossFit-sanctioned events, and other local CrossFit competitions. Needless to say, having the ability to sprint is not something that is going to fade out of the CrossFit world anytime soon. Furthermore, for those CrossFit athletes who are interested in supplementing their training by playing recreational field sports (softball, soccer, flag football, etc.), it is important to understand that if you have not trained sprinting, then there is a greater chance of injury (pulled or torn hamstrings) because your body is not used to moving in this capacity.

Sprinting is beneficial in several other ways besides injury prevention. Sprint training actually improves your capacity for endurance, increases your ability to take in oxygen, and improves your body’s chances of withstanding fatigue for longer periods of time. Sprints require your body to use energy more efficiently, leading to increased glycogen storage in the muscles by as much as 20%. Sprints also train the body to burn fat for fuel, which preserves muscle glycogen and helps the body prolong work capacity. Sprint interval training also helps individuals build muscle and increases the size and strength of powerful, fast-twitch fibers. This is important because these fibers help individuals improve the explosive power needed to be efficient in the Olympic lifts as well as other movements such as box jumps. 

Finally, it’s important to realize the difference between sprint training and your regular CrossFit workouts that include running. For example, consider the following two “girl” workouts:

“Kelly”                “Nancy”

5 rounds for time:        5 rounds for time:

400m run            400m run

30 box jumps            15 overhead squats

30 wall balls

Both of these workouts contain relatively short running distances. However, the addition of other movements on top of the running leads to an increased level of fatigue that turns the runs into more of a jog, rather than a repeated sprint. Therefore, if you want to improve your sprint capacity, you have to actually sprint.