Try this 20-exercise functional-fitness training workout with sprints – and help your body reach peak conditioning!
You can burn more calories with sprints.
Get lean and strong! Sprinting is an excellent way to wake up a sluggish metabolism so that it can burn fat cells for energy more efficiently.
Sprints, cone drills, and plyometric jumps help to increase agility, balance, core strength, heart and lung conditioning, and they burn a significant amount of calories.
These 20 exercise ideas sprints should prove helpful for your next once-a-week anaerobic day.
Sprints and other higher-intensity interval training exercises involve short (but intense) bursts of physical activity in which oxygen demand surpasses oxygen supply.
Sprints Are Good. Here’s Why.
During anaerobic exercise, the muscles have to work especially hard to fuel the workout with their energy – and this helps improve endurance and cardiac health, condition the lungs, burn fat, and develop lean muscle.
Since sprints can be especially intense, it’s essential that you carefully warm-up your joints and limber your spine beforehand.
It’s also a good idea to gently lengthen your calves and hip flexors before you begin.
As always, ask your medical doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen – including this one.
One simple way to tell if your heart rate has reached the anaerobic zone is if you’re breathing heavily.
During sprints (and immediately after) you should be breathing so heavily that conversation is difficult – and singing impossible.
Challenge yourself to move fast enough that you feel like you’re working just about as hard as you can.
On a scale of 1-to-10, that would probably be a “9” (you never want to push yourself so hard that you experience dizziness, nausea, or numbness).
Sprinting can put positive stress on the central nervous system. Therefore, recovery is required.
Many people find that sprinting once each week is enough.
However, if your body is still sore seven days later and needs more time to recover, give yourself that extra time to rest.
The idea is to challenge your body, but not so much that you suppress your immune system or injure an ankle.
What follows is an anaerobic workout that emphasizes sprints.
Beginners are encouraged to modify this workout as needed (sometimes, less is more).
In Silver and Strong: Getting Fit After Age 50, I explain exactly how to craft a Fitness Comeback Plan that specifically meets the needs of your unique body and lifestyle.
Fat-Burning Drills Using Sprints, Cones, Speed Footwork and an Agility Ladder
Here are 20 exercises to get you started on a muscle-toning, calorie-blasting workout.
Each circuit is done three times.
Do each exercise within the circuit consecutively without rest, then take a 2-minute rest before repeating.
After you complete your third time through a particular circuit, you move on to the next circuit in the series.
Though you’ll see I use equipment in the photos and video, you really need very little.
Toys can make a workout more fun but they are not strictly necessary. The hurdles, hopscotch, battle rope, box platforms, and cones are optional.
Even the stability ball used in the warm-up is not essential, as the exercises can be done ball-free just by isolating the abdominals carefully and creating a quality contraction of the muscle fibers.
Use the accompanying video to help you understand each movement.
Circuit One: Stability Ball Warm-Up
Straight-Legged Crunches with Feet on Ball
- Place your feet up on a stability ball.
- Press the heels of your feet down into the ball.
- Keep your legs straight, but without locking your knees.
- Press your lower back firmly into the mat.
- Draw your navel in tightly as you compress your rib cage, even as you try to maintain length in the spine.
- The contraction of your abdominal muscles causes your shoulder blades to rise up off the mat.
- Keep your elbows pulled back-and-open, as you exhale all the air out of your lungs.
- 20 repetitions.
Ab Rollers on Ball
- Start in a plank position with your forearms on the stability ball – your knees, however, stay on the mat.
- In this held plank position, stay active. No sway back. Glutes and abdominals engaged.
- Initiating the movement from your abs, contract the muscles – pulling your waistline up to the sky with intensity.
- The contraction causes you to roll the ball toward you (about half way) as you exhale fully.
- 20 reps.
Ball Plank on Elbows
- Forearms on the ball, full plank with knees elevated off the ground.
- Keep your abdominals pulled up-and-in fiercely.
- Be certain that your pelvis remains centered – no arching.
- Hold for 30-seconds.
- Be especially mindful of your lower abdominals – those are the muscle fibers located below the navel. Keep those sucked in very tightly.
To ensure that you’re warming-up fully, you may want to do a light jog for one minute each time you end the first circuit (that’s what I do). This will help ensure that you’re sufficiently mobile for the jumping that comes up in the next, new circuit.
Let the Sprints Begin! Second Circuit:
When doing side-to-side movements, it’s smart to wear good shoes with ample lateral support. Be mindful on sprint day not to roll an ankle. Stay energized and highly focused.
Skaters (Alternating Leg Jumps, Side-to-Side)
- Jump side to side on alternating legs (kind of like how Olympic ice skaters look when they’re racing).
- Challenge yourself to jump a bit wider than is comfortable.
- While jumping, keep your core muscles active.
- It’s tempting to hold your breath while jumping but breathe throughout the movement.
- 20 jumps.
- 30 knee ups, traveling forward.
- Sprints should feel a bit difficult. Challenge yourself to get the knees higher than what is naturally comfortable.
- Challenge yourself to move faster than what is comfortable.
- Be mindful of how your foot lands on the ground each time. Unless it hurts your knee, the toes should point directly forward – also avoid rolling your body weight onto one side of your foot.
Single-leg Foursquare Hops
- On one leg, hop your foot in a square formation, twice.
- Switch to the other leg. Repeat.
- It’s tempting to keep your hands on your hips, but you’ll find that you balance much easier with your arms to the side or up.
- Concentrate. No sloppy ankles.
- Butt kicks (hamstring curls) traveling forward.
- Really kick your butt. Go for range of motion!
- 30 kicks.
- Challenge yourself to move faster than what is comfortable.
Forward Jumps (2 up, 1 back)
- Huge hop forward, with a smaller hop back.
- If you don’t have a hopscotch ladder, do six jump sets.
- Turn around, and do the same jumping sequence on the return trip.
- Hop over each hurdle quickly, facing to the side.
- Go up and back, then turn the other direction and do it again.
- If you don’t have hurdles, count out ten hops in each direction.
- 12 single, quick hops forward (or if you have a hopscotch ladder, the length of the ladder).
- No return trip. One time only.
Traveling Iron Cross
- 12 toe touches (opposite hand to toe) as you travel forward.
- With each toe touch, try to lift the foot up above hip level.
- Travel forward with large steps as you go.
- Use your abdominal muscles, too – not just quads and hip flexors.
Big Jump Forward (Feet Together Mid-Jump, then Apart to Land)
- Start with feet wide, then jump up high and clap your feet together.
- Return landing in the feet-wide position.
- With each high jump, travel forward.
- 10 big jumps in quick succession (or the length of a battle rope).
- Run as absolutely fast as you can for 30 yards.
- At the end of 30 yards, don’t brake too quickly (this is important) or you might trip.
- Decelerate gradually after reaching the 30-yard mark.
Side-to-Side Leg Jumps
- Both legs together, jump side to side.
- Jump a little wider than what feels naturally comfortable.
- Move quickly.
- 15 jumps.
Runover Hurdle Sprints
- Facing forward, run quickly over 10 hurdles.
- Turn around and come back again.
- Repeat two more times.
- Skip forward in a very exaggerated way.
- Hit a high peak in your skip.
- Cover a lot of ground in your skip – travel forward.
Single-Leg Hopscotch (Forward and Back)
- Hop forward 10 times on one foot.
- Then hop backward on that same foot ten times.
- Switch feet, and repeat.
Box Kickover Sprints (In and Out)
- Kick up and over a couple of box platforms (or imagine that there is a tall hurdle there) 10 times, from out to in.
- During each kick, your foot should come up way above hip level.
- Use your core. Try not to tilt your hip. Keep your chest lifted and your spine tall.
- Switch to the other leg. Repeat.
- Next, switch to the other leg, but this time, kick from in to out.
- Switch to the other leg, Repeat.
Staggered Cone Race (with Hop Back)
- Sprint 10 yards, touch a cone, then hop backward and return to the starting position.
- Sprint 20 yards, touch a cone, then hop backward and return.
- Sprint 30 yards, touch a cone, then hop backward and return.
- Sprint 40 yards, touch a cone, then hop backward and return.
- Your big finisher!
- Run all-out, as fast as you possibly can, for 40 yards.
With proper form and focused intensity, the above anaerobic exercises can give you a firmer, better-shaped body and a more explosive physical power.
The entire workout can be done in under 45 minutes.
- Equipment can make a workout more fun but is not strictly necessary. The hurdles, hopscotch, battle rope, box platforms, and cones are optional.
- Even the stability ball used in the warm-up is nonessential, as the exercises can be done ball-free just by isolating the abdominals carefully and creating a quality contraction of the muscle fibers.
- Straight-Legged Crunches with Feet on Ball
- Ab Rollers on Ball
- Ball Plank on Elbows
- Skaters (Alternating Leg Jumps, Side-to-Side)
- Knee Ups
- Single-leg Foursquare Hops
- Butt Kicks
- Forward Jumps (2 up, 1 back)
- Side Hurdles
- Forward Hops
- Traveling Iron Cross
- Big Jumps Together (Foot Claps)
- 30-Yard Spring
- Side-to-Side Jumps (Legs Together)
- Runover Hurdles
- Exaggerated Skips
- Single-Leg Hopscotch
- Box Kickovers (In and Out)
- Staggered Cone Race (With Hop Back)
- 40-Yard Sprint
See article and video for detailed explanations.
Entire workout can be done in under 45-minutes.
Ask your doctor first.
With proper form and focused intensity, the above anaerobic exercises give you a firmer, better-shaped body and explosive physical power.
Sprinting, cone drills, plyometric jumps, and other anaerobic workouts make bones stronger, shrink the body’s fat cells, develop muscle tone, and elevate mood – especially important after the age of 50.
Sprinting, cone drills, plyometric jumps, and other anaerobic workouts can be significantly helpful for improving wellness because they make bones stronger, shrink the body’s fat cells, and maintain muscle mass – especially important after the age of 50.
Too busy to try out these exercises now? Pin this for later.
A bonus to sprinting day is that you will likely experience an endorphin release afterward. Endorphins are mood-elevating chemicals your body produces after anaerobic exercise, leaving you with a bright outlook and a true sense of accomplishment.