The 6 Best Sprint Workouts For Beginners

When we hear the term sprinting, we most likely think of the famous Usain Bolt and his 100-meter world record time of 9.58 seconds or Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world record 100-meter time of 10.49 seconds. Their arms pumping, an inexplicable force driving these machines of human beings forward at unbelievable speeds; it all just seems so unreal. 

But sprinting isn’t just for sprinters. When done correctly and carefully, sprinting can be a helpful workout for runners like you and me, improving our running economy, form, cadence, and speed.

If you haven’t worked spriting into your training program before, stay tuned for our best sprint workouts for beginners and a step-by-step guide on how to safely pop one of these workouts in every now and again.

In this guide, we will discuss: 

  • What Is Sprinting? 
  • The Benefits of Sprinting For Runners
  • Tips To Sprint Properly 
  • 6 Sprint Workouts For Beginners

Ready?

Let’s sprint!

A runner doing sprint workouts for beginners.

What Is Sprinting?

Sprinting is an anaerobic form of exercise where your heart rate is working between 80%-100% of its max, pushing almost to the limit while running at top speed.

These workouts consist of short bursts of very hard running, most commonly between 10 seconds and 2 minutes. However, I don’t know many who can keep up their top speed for a whole 2 minutes! 

Typical sprint distances include 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, 600 meters, and 800 meters, often performed on a track.

The Benefits of Sprinting For Runners

Even if you aren’t planning on running any 100-meter races, sprint workouts can still benefit you as a distance runner. Some important benefits of sprinting are that it: 

A woman getting ready to sprint.
  • Improves cardiovascular conditioning. 
  • Increases muscle mass and develops muscular strength and power
  • Improves top speed, which in turn improves general running paces
  • Promotes bone health.
  • Increases metabolism and fat burning.

Even though there are plenty of benefits to sprinting when appropriately done, it does come along with its risks.

Sprinting is one tough workout which is why it is imperative to take the necessary precautions when performing these sessions. If not followed, sprinting can increase the risk of injury and hinder recovery.

Therefore, consider the following tips to ensure you are sprinting correctly and working towards reaping the benefits, not taking on unnecessary risk.

A man sprinting on a stadium track.

Tips To Sprint Properly

#1: Focus on Form

Even though we should focus on running form during all of our runs and workouts, running with the correct form during sprinting is even more crucial. 

When you are focused on running at top speed, everything else seems to fly out the window as you tend to focus solely on pushing as hard as you can for that short burst of time. The problem with this is that usually, form is the first thing lost. 

Sprinting with proper running form will reduce your risk of injuring yourself during these sprint workouts for beginners and will actually make you sprint faster! Remember that running economy and correct running form will reduce your output of wasted energy, so you can channel that saved energy into your top speed instead.

Follow these tips for proper running form during our sprint workouts for beginners: 

  • Keep the mass of your body directly over your legs at all times. Do not heel strike! You must bring your body forward with each step and maintain your body aligned. 
  • Lean forward. Lean your body forward slightly and let gravity do its job. You’ll have to move your feet quickly to keep up as your body is propelled forward, which leads us to our next point.
  • Run with a quick cadence. Your cadence will naturally speed up as you run faster, so ensure a rapid turnover as if you are running on hot coals. The faster your turnover, the quicker you’ll go.
  • Focus on your arm movement. Keep your arms at 90 degrees, pumping them front to back along with your stride. Be sure you don’t cross your arms in front of your body or twist your torso. This will result in unnecessary energy loss. 
  • Forefoot strike: Naturally, if you are landing on the balls of your feet instead of midfoot or heel, you will propel yourself forward, which will promote a faster cadence.
A close-up of a track.

#2: Find a Track

Since sprinting workouts for beginners, or anyone really, consist of short bursts of running, you don’t need a long route on which to perform these workouts. You want to find a very flat, even surface to complete your sprints on. 

A 400-meter track is ideal. Here, you have the distances measured out for you, so you don’t need to worry about looking down at your watch and can just go.

Any flat surface will do if you don’t have access to a track. Just measure out your distances beforehand for a more efficient session. 

#3: Warm-Up

Now, warming up before any workout is essential, but it cannot be stressed enough that before sprinting, it is non-negotiable! If you fail to warm up before sprinting, a pulled muscle or another injury could easily be in your future. We definitely don’t want that. 

To warm up properly for our sprint workouts for beginners, jog for 10-15 minutes at an effortless pace with a few 10-seconds strides near the end. Then, add five minutes of dynamic stretching exercises to get those muscles and joints mobile and ready to go. 

People sprinting on a track.

#4: Plan Your Sprint Workouts For Beginners Into Your Plan Strategically

If you don’t have a trainer or help to compose your training plan, be sure your beginner sprint workout is sandwiched between two easy days. This can be a rest day, active rest day, low-impact cross-training day, or a recovery run. You need to ensure your body is well-rested for your sprint training for beginners and has enough time to recover after the fact. 

I wouldn’t recommend any more than one sprint session per week to start out, as they are taxing on the body.

#5 Get Prepared For Our Sprint Workouts For Beginners

If you are a true beginner runner, you will want some miles under your belt before you take on a beginner sprint workout. Your body will need to adjust to the impact of running, the stress it puts on your muscles, bones, connective tissues, and everything that comes with it. 

After you have spent some time getting your body accustomed to running, and you feel comfortable, strong, and healthy doing so, you can begin working in some sprinting into your training. But beforehand, I would start with other training that stresses your system slightly less such as strides or longer, slower intervals.

Begin with added strides into your training, where you will reach your top speed, but only for a few seconds. Focus on form and efficiency, thinking ahead to how this will feel when held for an entire 400 meters! 

Now let’s get to those workouts!

A man sprinting down a road.

5 Sprint Workouts For Beginners

The following sprint workouts are time-based. As each of us is at a different fitness level, using distance as a measurement to start would greatly vary the sprint workouts for beginners, so to avoid overtraining, time has been used as a parameter.

#1: Sprint Workouts For Beginners: Strides

This type of sprint training for beginners is the best way to gradually graduate to sprinting at top speed. A stride, also known as a “pick up,” is a gradual acceleration and then deceleration of running speed over a short period. When you reach your peak speed during a stride, you should just about reach your top speed. 

This way, we work up to the sprint without overdoing it. 

  1. Warm-up with 10 minutes of light jogging and dynamic exercises. 
  2. Run for 30 minutes at an easy, conversational pace. Every 5 minutes, add in a 10-second stride. 
  3. Cool down with 5 minutes of light jogging.
A woman sprinting down a road.

#2: Sprint Workouts For Beginners: Fartleks

Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play,” so you make the rules here. 

  1. Warm-up with 10 minutes of light jogging and dynamic exercises. 
  2. Run easy for 30 minutes and add in strides as you like, without overdoing it. When you feel a burst, add a 20-30 second stride, reaching close to top speed at the peak. Have fun with it! 
  3. Cool down with 5 minutes of light jogging. 

#3: Sprint Workouts For Beginners: Short Sprints 1.1

Ready? After a couple of weeks of strides, you are prepared to try out some real sprints.

The difference here is that there is no gradual acceleration or deceleration. The entirety of the interval is run at the same speed, at an effort of 80%+ of your maximum

  1. Warm-up with 10-15 minutes of light jogging and dynamic exercises. 
  2. Sprint 10-15 seconds.
  3. Complete rest for 90 seconds. 
  4. Repeat for 20 minutes. 
  5. Cool down with 5 minutes of light jogging.  
A woman sprinting on a track.

#4: Sprint Workouts For Beginners: Short Sprints 1.2

Let’s turn it up a bit. Now, instead of stopping altogether, our rest will be active. 

  1. Warm-up with 10-15 minutes of light jogging and dynamic exercises. 
  2. Sprint 10-15 seconds.
  3. Walk for 90 seconds. 
  4. Repeat for 20 minutes. 
  5. Cool down with 5 minutes of light jogging.  

#5: Sprint Workouts For Beginners: Ladder Drill

Another change we can make is to increase the sprinting time slightly as we improve. Let’s play around with the time and have some fun.  

  1. Warm-up with 10-15 minutes of light jogging and dynamic exercises. 
  2. Repeat the following 2x: 
  3. Sprint 10 seconds / Walk 50 seconds
  4. Sprint 15 seconds / Walk 75 seconds
  5. Sprint 20 seconds / Walk 100 seconds
  6. Sprint 25 seconds / Walk 125 seconds
  7. Sprint 20 seconds / Walk 100 seconds
  8. Sprint 15 seconds / Walk 75 seconds
  9. Sprint 10 seconds / Walk 50 seconds
  10. Cool down with 5 minutes of light jogging. 
A group of people sprinting on a track.

#6: Sprint Workouts For Beginners: Hills

We can also perform sprint workouts for beginners on hills. Try this one out: 

Find a hill with a slight incline for the following workout: 

  1. Warm-up with 10-15 minutes of light jogging on flat terrain.
  2. Sprint 15 seconds uphill.
  3. Walk down to the starting point.
  4. Rest for 90 seconds. 
  5. Repeat 8-10 times. 
  6. Cool down with 5 minutes of light jogging on flat terrain. 

For all of these sessions, you must focus on your running form, posture, and efficiency to get the most out of your sprint workouts for beginners and prevent injury from these risky sessions. 

As you progress, you feel more and more comfortable approaching your top speed and enduring the incredibly uncomfortable sensation that demands. You can slightly increase your sprinting times and begin measuring your intervals in distance instead of time. 

After you have broken yourself into this sprint training for beginners, look at our complete track workouts for runners and interval training for runners

Enjoy! 

A man sprinting uphill.

Katelyn Tocci
Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community she is known for her ear to ear smile even under the toughest race conditions. She loves sharing her knowledge and experience with everyone and has a great desire to motivate others to hit the trails alongside her. Run for fun!

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