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Fitness >>> Exercise Articles & News

Getting Started With Sprints

By: Matt Furey
Best Selling Author of "Combat Conditioning"

I don't know if you have any young children in your home - so I'm not sure if you can completely relate to this or not. At any rate, I do think you'll find it fascinating; and there is a hidden benefit to what I'm saying. Can you find it?

Anyway, my son, Frank, is almost 4 years old. The dude is a little "animal." I've had him doing squats before he could walk - literally dating back to when he was six weeks old. I would lie on the couch and hold him above my chest. When his feet were planted on my rib cage, I would let him go enough so that his knees would bend into a full squat. Then I would lift him back up.

An amazing thing began to happen as a result of me doing this.

Within ten days of me doing this with him, Frank would lock his knees so that he wouldn't go into a squat. And when he locked his knees, I realized he already had muscles sprouting in his legs.

I was fascinated, so I began to experiment with other exercises. What I would do is move his body the same way he would if he knew how to exercise. For example, when he laid on his back, I would hold his ankles and move his legs back and forth as if he were peddling a bicylce. Then I would do leg scissors with them.

After this I would work his arms. I would open his arms wide as an eagle spreading its wings, then I'd close his palms together. I would move his hands as if he were throwing punches, lifting a weight overhead, and so on.

Once again, this time within one week, he was resisting me with his little muscles. He had more "life" and "strength" in his body as a result of MOVING it.

Fast forward 10 months. As soon as Frank went from the crawl stage to the walk stage, he wasn't just walking. He was trying to walk as fast as he could. Naturally, he'd fall down and have to start again. But he never gave up - and more importantly, just like every other parent with a brain, we fully believed and "expected" he would walk.

Once Frank had the speed walking down, he went to speed running. His mother would be in one room of the house - me in the other. And he would sprint back and forth, without fatigue, for an hour.

Even more amazing is how he would do Hindu squats with me, without help. He had the breathing down right away, too. Exhale down - inhale up. Although it scared his mother - the little guy even managed to do a decent bridge when he was 18 months.

Today he always asks if he can go with me to the gym when I train. He likes to hang from the rings and from the parallel bars. He likes to run sprints around the mats. He likes to do Hindu pushups, bridging and squats. And he's mad as hell that he's "too small" for my jump rope.

When other people see what Frank can already do, with practically no pushing from me - they are stunned. All I do is set the example. He sees what I'm doing and he imitates.

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I have often thought, especially when watching Frank run his sprints, "My God, there would be ZERO obesity in our country if more kids were raised this way."

But do you know what? Regardless of your age, you can still use exercie to turn back the clock. You can become more like my son Frank than y ou may currently think. So long as you can still move, you can improve.

The fastest way there is to get fit is a combination of bodyweight calisthenics as seen in my book and videos on Combat Conditioning - as well as the hill sprints I wrote about.

But the thing most people MUST understand is this: If you are currently in poor condition, it is not wise to go outside and begin running sprints right away. You need to work into it. If you are in poor condition and you start cranking out sprints, the chances of pulling a hamstring are quite high.

Running HILL sprints (as opposed to sprints on flat ground) helps dramatically reduce the chance of a hamstring pull because it is much harder to build up the speed necessary to hurt yourself. Hill sprints also increase strength in your legs and lungs much more than flat land sprints. And they force your body to naturally secrete over 400% more Human Growth Hormone - aka the anti-aging hormone, than plain old long distance cardio.

And so, if you want to get the benefits of hill sprinting when you're NOT in condition to sprint, what should you do? Here is a sample progression for you:
1. Briskly walk up the hill. A brisk walk is much harder than you think - and far different from a "stroll."
2. When the brisk walk becomes easy, run up the hill.
3. When running up the hill gets easy, sprint up the hill.
If you don't have hills, then follow the same training philosophy when you train on flat land, or on soft sandy beaches, or in the pool ... on an exercise bike - and so on. And remember, you'll get results even faster when you combine all of the above with bodyweight calisthenics and stretching exercises.

Copyright, Gold Medal Publications, Inc 2004


Editor's Note:

Be sure to take a look at Matt's Inner Circle - where you get online personalized training advice. Go Here and get started today.

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