Is Sprinting Better Than Jogging During a Workout?

The health benefits of regular exercise are common knowledge, but according to experts, the type of cardio is just as important. In this article, we've outlined frequently asked questions about sprinting vs jogging, including:

  • Do you burn more calories sprinting or jogging?
  • Is sprinting or jogging better to burn fat?
  • What are the benefits of jogging?
  • What are the most common muscles used in sprinting vs jogging?

Benefits of Sprinting vs Jogging

Sprinting has a long list of health benefits. As sports expert Binod Bhadri from the Dare to Gear fitness group points out, "The benefits of sprinting are endless. It is an excellent cardiovascular exercise, it increases your stamina, burns lots of calories in a short time and moreover, it gives you a boost to your metabolism…"

Here's a breakdown of exactly how sprinting is different than jogging, and what it can do for your overall health.

Sprinting Builds Muscle

Compared to jogging, sprinting helps build muscles — similar to the effects of weight training. But instead of focusing on one body part at a time, sprinting uses dozens of muscles simultaneously, making it one of the best total muscle training exercises.

While jogging has some benefits, fitness experts advise using it as a warm-up exercise before sprinting, which has different muscle strengthening effects. Sprinting targets the following muscles:

  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Hip flexors
  • Calf muscles
  • Core

When you compare sprinting vs jogging and the effects on the muscles, the fibers are activated in different ways. Sprinting activates the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which has more explosive power to build up strength and muscle mass. In contrast, jogging activates slow-twitch muscle fibers, which helps boost endurance with stabilizing effects.

Burn More Calories

While jogging also helps burn calories, experts recommend sprinting as the best form of cardio for maintaining a healthy weight and staying in shape. Studies have shown you can burn 200 calories in just two and a half minutes of high impact sprinting. When you sprint for 15 minutes, that amount adds up to 1200 calories burned.

Another benefit of sprinting is EPOC, also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which allows the body to burn calories even after you've finished your workout.

Maximize your Workout Routine

When you go for short runs of high intensity, it utilizes all your energy and muscle power. It might be easier to jog, but you can achieve more results in a significantly shorter amount of time. For example, one hour of cardio like jogging is equivalent to 10 sprints in 15 minutes. Not only is it just as effective for staying in shape, but it maximizes your workout in less than half the time.

Strengthen your Core

The intense aerobic power of sprinting makes it better than jogging, particularly when it comes to reducing abdominal fat, waist circumference, and overall weight. As certified strength and conditioning trainer Brandon Hall explains, sprint intervals burn visceral fat, which is stored in your abdomen and often is the most stubborn kind to eliminate.

If you are looking to tone your abs as part of your fitness goals, sprinting is definitely the way to go. In fact, one study from the University of New South Wales found that 20 minutes of sprinting three times a week for 12 months allowed participants to burn more visceral fat than jogging.

Enjoy Increased Longevity

Another study reported in The New York Times found that runners outlived non-runners an additional three years, regardless of whether they favored sprinting or jogging. When scientists examined the data, they found that non-runners have the potential to reduce the risk of premature death by 40% if they start jogging or sprinting just four hours per week.

Reduced Risk of Anxiety & Depression

Sprinting is good for the body but you should also appreciate all that it can do for your mental health. High intensity aerobic activity has been shown to boost levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF), which is essential to brain health. In fact, low levels have been linked with depression, Alzheimer's, anxiety, and impaired learning. Research suggests that sprinting has a high potential to reduce anxiety and depression by increasing these brain boosting functions.

Choose the Best Workout for Your Needs

Now that you know the health benefits of sprinting and jogging, the next step is determining the best exercise routine for your health and wellness goals. Before starting any new fitness activities, we recommend consulting with a professional trainer for the best results.

As a general rule, experts suggest taking it slow, especially if you're a beginner. Emily Fayette of SHRED Fitness recommends starting with a warm-up before sprinting intervals. "Start with dynamic stretches, speed walking, or a light jog to prepare your muscles for the work that is about to happen," she explains.

Fayette also stresses the importance of building up your workout over time. Start your workout with shorter sprinting intervals and then double the amount of time for rest and recovery. So if you sprint 30 seconds, follow it up with 60 to 120 seconds of rest and recovery, which could be a light jog, brisk walk, or a complete rest.

The many benefits of high impact exercise are no secret — incorporating daily sprinting intervals into your routine helps reduce stress, strengthens muscles, and boosts longevity. Sprinting vs jogging might seem challenging at first, but the results are well worth the effort.