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What Is SIT training?

Okay not that type of sitting. (Though our Made 2 Move therapists do love a good rest day spent sitting on the couch with the puppies.)

SIT, or sprint interval training, is a highly effective workout that consists of max effort sprints with extended periods of rest in between. If you’re sprinting at a true 100% effort, you will need the 2-5 minutes rest to fully recover before the next sprint.

Could people who aren’t athletes benefit from sprinting? The answer is 100% YES. Highlighted below are the differences between HIIT (high intensity interval training) and SIT (sprint interval training), the benefits of SIT, and how to incorporate SIT into your workout routine.


HIIT, or high intensity interval training, has gained traction in the fitness world and for good reasons. However, there is another type of high intensity training called SIT - sprint interval training that may be even more effective. Both have their benefits but what is the difference between HIIT and SIT?

Many people are familiar with HIIT style workouts. HIIT consists of “high intensity intervals” but these intervals are of slightly lower intensity than SIT, ranging anywhere from 30% to 80% effort. This is because a HIIT workout is typically meant to be sustained for 30-45 minutes. The rest periods are also typically less during HIIT, in order to keep the heart rate up throughout the workout. On a 1-10 difficulty scale, SIT would be a true 10 while HIIT may be within the 6-8 range so that the intensity can be sustained for the duration of the workout.

SIT involves short intervals consisting of all out, 100% max efforts. Because the intensity is so high, the rest periods are longer and the duration of the workout is shorter. A SIT workout may look like 4-8 all out sprints for 5-30 seconds followed by a full recovery, say 2-4 minutes depending on individual fitness level. This recovery could look like complete rest where you sit or stand in place or it could look like a light jog/walk.

Benefits of SIT

Gassers in soccer, the 40 yard dash in football, and sprinting to home base for baseball players. It’s evident that sprinting is highly necessary for sports. While not all athletes will reach top speed in their sport, sprinting at top speed during practice will improve their endurance and increase their submaximal speeds. Sprinting can also improve explosiveness and jump height in sports like volleyball and basketball.

So it’s evident that sprinting is a valuable tool in preparing our Made 2 Move athletes for their sport. But how about the benefits that can be gained from sprinting for our Made 2 Move athletes that aren’t currently playing a sport?

  • Fat loss

    • An analysis of 75 studies comparing steady state cardio, HIIT, and SIT found that sprint interval training SIT decreased body fat percentage 91.83% more than steady state cardio and 39.95% more than HIIT.

  • Time efficient

    • We know our Made 2 Move patients have busy schedules. The great thing about SIT is that you don’t have to workout for two hours to see the benefits. When analyzing SIT vs HIIT, it was found that those who did SIT exercised for 60.84% less time than HIIT and 71.17% less than steady state cardio, but reaped the same benefits. Thus, SIT is incredibly useful for those with limited time to workout.

  • Inexpensive

    • Sprints can be done anywhere, for free, without the cost of a gym membership. Not to mention, being in the sunshine has a host of other benefits.

  • Build muscle

    • Sprinting works the same fast twitch muscle fiber types as heavy lifting. This develops power and speed that translates to the weightroom and can improve your lifts. Sprinting also works all the muscles in the body simultaneously. It is important to remember that sprinting, like weight training, must be paired with proper nutrition and recovery. You can’t overtrain or skimp on sleep or nutrition and expect to see results.

  • Improved endurance

  • Improved endurance from SIT is true even for trained athletes. A study tested the short term effects of sprinting on sports performance. The 2-week study had 16 trained trail runners complete 4-7 sets of 30 second max effort sprints. The athletes had 4 minutes of recovery between sets and performed the sessions 3 times a week. Following the study, athletes showed improved 3000-meter race times, time to exhaustion, and overall power output- all aspects of fitness that our Made 2 Move runners could benefit from!

  • A little science lesson…The above improvements could be the result of increased glycogen storage and usage in muscles, utilizing fat for fuel, and increasing the body’s ability to remove waste products. When you workout hard, hydrogen ions build up. The body’s ability to neutralize these acidic ions is referred to as muscle buffering capacity, and this capacity increases with sprint training, leading to better endurance.

  • Easy and variable progression

    • Once you find you’ve mastered, say, 4x10 second sprints with a 3 minute recovery between each, you can progress in a variety of ways. Progression can look like:

      1. Decreasing the rest time between reps

      2. Increasing sprint time

      3. Increasing sprint distance

      4. Increasing the reps of sprints

      5. Increasing the number of sessions per week

      6. Adding elevation- hill sprints

How to incorporate SIT into your training

Because of the efficiency of SIT, it is relatively easy to incorporate it into your training program. Not sure how? Our Made 2 Move therapists are ready to build you an individualized program that includes sprints if you are curious! The workouts can be done as a sprint outdoors or could be done on the stairs, treadmill, bike, or rower.

Start by choosing a fixed time or fixed distance to sprint. For a fixed distance, you could find a track and sprint anywhere from 40-100 meters. You could also just run them on the road using stop signs, trees, or other landmarks as your “finish line.”

For a fixed time, you could choose anywhere from 5-30 seconds. Whichever method you choose, repeat for 4-8 sets allowing 2-4 minutes recovery in between reps. Repeat this 1-3 times per week.

Always make sure to include a dynamic warmup before you start sprinting. Move from general to specific in terms of intensity and movements throughout the warm up to prepare your body for the upcoming workout. Start with jogging and skipping to get your heart rate and body temperature up. Then do movements like hamstring sweeps, lunges, squats, and leg swings to prime your legs for the explosiveness required for max effort sprinting.

Key Takeaways:

Sprint interval training (SIT) is inexpensive, time efficient, can promote fat loss and muscle gain, improve overall endurance and fitness, and is easily progressed and varied. Incorporating SIT into training can be beneficial for any of our Made 2 Move athletes, even if you aren’t playing a sport. Ready to start or get back to SITting but unsure of how to put together a program? Experiencing nagging pain or injury that is keeping you from sprinting? Reach out to today to set up an initial consultation and lace up those track shoes!


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