Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sprint-8 Interval Updates

I've been using Sprint-8 intervals for years with my clients and friends to optimize fitness gains and weight loss.  The "Sprint-8" combines a 30 second "sprint" with a 90 second "rest" period which is then repeated 8 times for one workout.  There is a two-minute warm up and two-minute cool down.

The Sprint-8 interval protocol established by Phil Campbell has been the best protocol I've found for consistent weight-loss results.  The Sprint-8 intervals are extremely reliable and fairly easy to learn in terms of the mechanics of the intervals and how to do them.  Recently, a web follower and friend of mine attended a workshop in Indiana with Sprint-8 creator Phil Campbell/author of "Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness."  My friend sent me the following updates from Phil's workshop which are now also included in the 2nd edition of Ready, Set, GO!  These updates should help us further optimize the efficiency of the Sprint-8 intervals—especially if you are over age 40 and trying to lose weight.  You can read the latest edition of Phil's book for more info, but here's the bottom line:

In Short…think quality NOT quantity.  We are not doing them hard enough!  You should not be doing more than 8 intervals—ever—just do them harder if you truly want to optimize the metabolic effects for weight loss.  The harder the interval, the more you increase HGH for the two hours after the workout—HGH "decreases" in people as they age, so this HGH is thought of as a "youth" hormone for anti-aging.  HGH occurs naturally in the body and can be optimized with proper training, but today many people take short cuts by getting HGH supplementation which are controversial.  You need to adjust your dietary intake to optimize the post-workout HGH production in the synergist window (Human Growth Hormone increase).  If you are middle age and needing to lose weight, avoid carbs two hours after Sprint-8 and ingest 25 grams of protein to maximize HGH production—this opposes the "standard" post-recovery recommendations to ingest a 4/1 carbohydrate/protein ratio. *(I would recommend "natural" protein powder because it is healthier—see protein link below.)  If you are younger and your objective is to refuel for ongoing hard workouts, then using the standard 4/1 carb-to-protein ratio is best.

More Details for Middle Age 40+ populations needing to lose weight with the Sprint-8 Intervals:
  • Sprint hard enough so that by 15 seconds of the 30 second interval you are ready to quit—but don't!
  • Limit sprint length to only 30 seconds.  Go harder—not longer.
  • Limit total intervals to 8.  Use more intensity—not more volume.
  • Do not eat a high-fat meal before Sprint-8.  Eating some "good" carbs to fuel before workout is fine.
  • Take 2 grams of L-Glutamine 60-90 minutes before workout.  *I'm not a person that pushes supplements, but I'm reporting what Phil says will optimize HGH with the Sprint-8.  I have included a WebMD link on L-Glutamine, but basically this is used for muscle wasting in HIV/AIDS patients or cancer patients.  There are those that take it in excess as a supplement, but the 2 gram recommendation is well under the 40 grams per day limit cited by WebMD.  Ultimately, it is the user's choice, but I have provided the documentation so you can make an educated decision.  
  • NO sugar or carbs for 2 hours after workout!!!  Ingesting carbs during post-workout with Sprint-8 will stop HGH production.  The idea is to "increase" HGH production and your metabolism—not decrease!
  • Ingest 20-25 grams of protein soon after workout.  Most sources give a 30 minute to 2 hour window for post-workout recovery fueling.  I would say ingest the protein within a 30 minute window following the workout.
  • Never perform Sprint-8 Intervals more than 2-3 times per week.  Think quality—not quantity!

In reality, you should NOT be able to do any other work of significance after your Sprint-8 workout is complete—you should be DONE.  If you feel like doing a bunch of other stuff—you have not done them hard enough!!!  Oh…for those of you not familiar with the Sprint-8 Interval Protocol…total time from start to finish including warm up and cool down is just 20 minutes!  Yes—you'll get more benefit in 20 minutes than the people next to you grinding out the 45-60 minute workout which likely is not doing much to optimize their metabolism or weight loss.  I've seen people lose 40-60 pounds on the Sprint-8 in well under 12 months.

Mode & Mechanics:  For the general population, there are only two modes I recommend—the elliptical trainer or Concept2 Rowing Machine...a high-quality stationary bike like a Spinner or equivalent can also work but not as well as the first two in my opinion. Treadmills won't work because they will take too much time to adjust for each interval—there is NO TIME to adjust anything—you have go GO when it is time to GO!  You "could" do these running on a track, but most people are not fit enough to do this without getting hurt or straining their hamstrings.  Other machines like stair climbers, etc. are also NOT a good choice because of the time required to adjust them for higher speed and intensity during each interval.  We run the elliptical trainers in manual with NO resistance—we use "speed" to increase heart rate—not resistance.  A Spinning bike will need a slight amount of constant resistance, but again, use SPEED to increase your heart rate rather than heavy resistance.  I have done something close to the Sprint-8 using stairs or hill repeats outside, but again, most people are not fit enough to do this off the machine. The e-trainer and rower will do a great job for you, so get started!

Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA):  Doing really hard sprints or exercise efforts with minimal warm up can cause some EIA for some individuals--and if not actual EIA, other breathing difficulties.  One of my friends that uses the Sprint-8 has EIA.  He must do a longer warm up and cool down to allow the lung tissues to function more normally, so if you have EIA, please consider adjusting the pre and post workout recommendations. The longer warm up and cool down (until HR drops under 120 for my friend) should help you avoid the EIA that can be trigger by sudden sprints without much warm up. Remember--the regular warm up and cool down for the Sprint-8 is only 2:00 for each.

Safety:  If you can't sprint for 30 seconds without killing yourself—then don't!  I've had many people start the Sprint-8 intervals with minimal fitness—just modify.  Do what you can do safely.  If you can only go hard for 5 seconds, then go hard for 5 seconds, and do your best for the remaining 25 to hang on.  But remember—you'll never optimize the HGH production and metabolic effects by going easy or at a moderate pace or by only going hard for a few seconds.  To get the most out of the protocol, you need to go HARD for the full 30 seconds.  For most, this will become quite a challenging goal—just to work hard for 30 seconds straight without giving up.  The 90 second "rest" period is also critical because it has to be a quality "rest" heart rate i.e. not under 65% of your heart rate range—see my Sprint-8 handout or Ready, Set, GO! for more information…Enjoy!

Related Links & Information:

Read my "Interval Training" Web Section complete with Sprint-8 summaries:

Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness (by Phil Campbell creator of Sprint-8 interval protocol):

WebMD Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Link: Do NOT take HGH Supplements!!!  Raise them naturally with the correct exercise intensity.

WebMD L-Glutamine Link:

"Natural" Protein Powder Handout: (The Lean Berets)

In Sweat!

Ron Jones, MS
Corporate Wellcoach
Santa Clarita-SoCal


Kathy said...

Ron, do you think jogging on a rebounder using Sprint 8 would be effective? Thanks for any input. Kathy

Coach RJ said...

In my opinion, that would not be a great idea--quite possibly not safe too since it would be really hard to control an all out sprint on a rebounder. Also, I think the balance challenge would limit your ability to elevate the HR to the levels needed to optimize the Sprint-8's metabolic benefits. I would say make a choice that day--balance and propriocpetive work on your rebounder or metabolic intervals using Sprint-8 on something that facilitates you being able to get your HR elevated to the extreme outputs recommended in the Sprint-8.

Kathy said...

Thank You!

Kelly said...

My son is into sports, to boost his energy I give him genf20 and I can see it really works for him. but I should say they beware of genf20 scam.

Alexander said...

Hello Coach Ron!

What are you supposed to do after you've been doing it for a while? Doesn't the body get used to any exercise routine, such that you need to vary it to maintain the initial benefits?

I do these running outside on a track, and I truly am pushing myself as hard as I possibly can for the full 30 seconds - I'm out of breath after each, feel a stich in the side, sweat profusely and all that. But still, I am already in pretty good shape, and after doing this routine for a while, I feel I could go up to Sprint 9 instead of Sprint 8, or keep running for, say, 35 seconds instead of 30. And keep upping it every few months after that, ultimately doing 10, 11, 12 reps, and/or sprinting as hard as I can for 35, 40, 45 seconds.

Truly, I'm used to exercising for much longer than 20 minutes, and I'm more than happy to work out for an hour or more at a time. So, is there some reason why I should stick only to the basic protocol with never any variations upon it even to offset habituation?

Thanks so much in advance!

Coach RJ said...

Like Phil says, don't do more, just go harder and emphasize quality first. If you had total quality for the 20 minutes and still needed more, then I would consider extra volume as an option, but first go after the quality to maximize the HGH production as Phil laid out in his recent updates. Get his book for full details of course.

Kevin Elliott said...

Im planning to incorporate grass sprint8s into my routine.

Currently I am lifting 6 days a week, splitting muscle groups up. Ive been lifting 4-5 days a week solid for over a year. I am currently trying to cut down to below 10% bf, at 12% at the moment.
I track every macro I eat and every exercise via HRM.

I figured id do Sprint8 2 days a week, maybe 3 on rare occasion.

My questions for you are: Should I do Sprints early AM and lift in the evening, or reverse that? Also, should I still do fat zone cardio on the days I dont do sprints? Just wasnt sure if doing 2-3 days of Sprints would be fine and could skip the lower impact cardio.

vincent grant said...

Hey Coach do you think I could use kettlebell snatches with the sprint 8 protocol?

kiwimills said...

i just found your blog, after doing a google search for sprint 8 I just watched a youtube dr mercola video and he had just been to phils retreat this past year and he said it is 8-10 seconds sprinting outside, otherwise 30 seconds on bike/ trainer.
I know this is an old blog post on your blog, but just thought i would share what he had said.
nicola in nz

Eric said...

I have version 2 of his book. In the book he described starting slowly and not really "going all out" until the 6th interval, which is in contradiction to this post.

Susan McCord said...

Great post & very informative but I have a few questions. I am very active and used to doing mid intensity cardio for approx 1 hour 4-5 days per week. I also do power yoga 3x times a week. I recently switched it up to 30mins strength training/20 min sprint 8 session 3 days per week & power yoga (no cardio) on the between days. I have gained 4 lbs in 3 weeks without changing my diet. I eat a very healthy low wheat diet. What gives? I have always been muscular so it is not muscle gain...I like the program but not happy with this weight change. How long does it take to see the changes everyone is talking about?

Zeeshan Parvez said...

Over training.

Zeeshan Parvez said...

Over training.

Anonymous said...

HI Coach.

When doing the Sprint 8 shoould i be doing any other excercise? Currently i walk or have a calsual row on my rower.

I am completing my workout on a water rower and in my 1st week and con only do 6 sprints..

ceecee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ceecee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ceecee said...

Hi Ron,

I'd like to start doing Sprint 8 by finding a decent hill with a moderate grade. I can't afford to buy any equipment or gym memberships and thought I'd be more likely to REALLY push myself 100% for 20-30 seconds going uphill without the cycle of acceleration-and-deceleration that stresses my knees and overall body on the track. Uphill all out sprints and walking or slow jogging back to start seems like it might reduce the potential for injury, sloppiness, hamstring tears, etc.
What do you think? Any suggestions for the uphill grade?
Im 57, F, 15 lbs overweight, way too much body fat and in moderately good physical condition.
Thanks for any advice you can give!

ceecee said...

SO sorry about all the repeated posts!
I guess I've got repeats and intervals on the brain.


morris9659 said...

Coach Im a male at 310 pounds. I do the sprint 8 on the treadmill, after my warm up. I set incline at 3.0-4.0 and walking speed at 3.5. I sprint at the same level incline but change speed to 7.0-8.0. Is the effective way to complete Sprint 8?

Roland said...

You need to adjust your dietary intake to optimize the post-workout HGH production in the synergist window (Human Growth Hormone increase). ...

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