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Why You Need to Be Doing Hurricane Sprints

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hurricaneYou have to do cardio — for stamina, for cardiovascular health, for fat loss — but you don’t have to like it. 

When I needed to slim down last summer, I sought out the most intense cardio workouts possible: something that would give me the maximum benefits with the shortest, most infrequent workouts possible. That’s how I turned to hurricane sprints. 

You see, most cardio workouts have one big weakness: they only use your legs.

The brainchild of MMA trainer Martin Rooney, hurricane sprints take the interval training workouts you know and love and fear, and make them even more grueling by adding in upper body and core exercises in place of rest periods.

The benefits are threefold: more fat burned, stimulated slow-twitch muscles fibers throughout your whole body, and an increase in the testosterone and growth hormone response.

Also, you might throw up.

It’s a tough workout, but it only takes fifteen minutes and you only have to do it once a week. Last summer, I lost five pounds of fat and gained eight pounds of muscle in three months, and I owe much of that fat loss to hurricane sprints. No other workout has ever made me feel more superhuman for having completed it.

Consider it an exercise in “embracing the suck.”

Start Here: The Basic Hurricane Sprint

If you hate cardio as much as I do, you’ll need to start off easy. Well, relatively easy. If you’ve never done hurricane sprints before, here’s what I would start with:

A1) Sprint, 3 x 20 seconds
A2) Pushups, 3 x 20

Rest: 2 minutes

B1) Sprint, 3 x 20 seconds
B2) Dumbbell rows (both arms at once), 3 x 15

Rest: 2 minutes

C1) Sprint, 3 x 20 seconds
C2) Plank, 3 x 30 seconds

Use either a treadmill or elliptical machine, and sprint at near-maximal effort.

Take no rest between the sprint intervals and weight sets; jump off, do you a set, and jump right back on the machine for another interval. I’d recommend spending about five minutes warming up beforehand with jogging and light bodyweight exercises.

And that’s just the first week. Here’s how to progress with this workout:

Week 2: Lengthen the sprints in circuit A to 25 seconds, add 5-10 pounds (each dumbbell) to the dumbbell row

Week 3: Increase pushups to 25 per set, add another 5-10 pounds to each dumbbell, increase the plank to 40 seconds

Week 4: Reduce the rests to 90 seconds

Once you can do that, congratulations! You’re done….with the basic hurricane sprint. Now you move on to the advanced hurricane sprint workout.

The More Advanced Even Less Fun Hurricane Sprint Workout

The advanced workout follows the same format as the basic workout, except each circuit now incorporates two resistance exercises supersetted together, each working different muscle groups. Now, not only is the workout whole-body, but each individual circuit also uses most of your body for maximum intensity.

A1) Sprint, 3 x 20 seconds
A2) Bicycle crunches, 3 x 20
A3) Pike pushups, 3 x 15

Rest: 2 minutes 

B1) Sprint, 3 x 20 seconds
B2) Barbell reverse drag curl, 3 x 8
B3) Barbell military press, 3 x 15 (use the same barbell)

Rest: 2 minutes

C1) Sprint, 3 x 20 seconds
C2) Spiderman plank crunch, 3 x 10 reps each side
C3) Dumbbell swings, 3 x 10 reps each arm

Just as with the basic workout, sprint at near-max effort, rest 2 minutes between circuits, and not at all between individual intervals. And here’s how you progress from there:

Week 2: Extend the sprints in circuit A to 25 seconds, and gradually increase the intensity of the sprint for each circuit. For instance, you might sprint 10 MPH for circuit A, 11 MPH for circuit B, and 12 MPH for circuit C.

Week 3: Add 20-30% more reps to each exercise.

Week 4: Reduce rest periods to 90 seconds.

How to Design Your Own Hurricane Sprint Workout

By now you can see the principles behind this workout, and you’re ready to design your own.

First, choose your cardio: your best options are either a treadmill or elliptical machine. I like the elliptical because it’s easier on my shins, but the treadmill allows you to transition a little faster.

Other forms of cardio don’t tend to work too well. An exercise bike simply takes too long to get on and off of and running outside — not on a treadmill — limits you to bodyweight exercises unless you can reliably circle back to your weights after each sprint (you can’t).

Next, pick your resistance exercises. For the basic hurricane sprint, pick one upper body pushing motion, one upper body pulling motion, and one core exercise.

You don’t want to have any leg exercises in here, (they’ll be sore enough from the sprinting, believe me) but you can get away with one or two exercises that secondarily work the legs, like dumbbell thrusters or spiderman lunges.

For the advanced hurricane sprint, pick two of each type of movement, and make sure they each work different muscles and/or angles of movement. Don’t choose two highly similar motions like pike push-ups and dumbbell shoulder presses, which both have you pressing in the same direction and mostly focus on the same shoulder muscles. Split up those movements so each circuit works two of the three movement patterns.

As for weight and reps, you mostly want to be working in the 15-20 rep range, with a weight you could normally perform 25-30 reps with. For isolateral movements, use a rep range of 8-12 at something like your 15-20 rep max.

This is a tough workout that will make you a tough, shredded mofo.

Hurricane sprinting allows you to hit all of your major muscle groups and reap the fat loss benefits of high-intensity interval training, along with the hormonal benefits of full-body weight training, all in fifteen minutes. 

If you want to lose fat fast or if you’re on a bulk but need to make sure you don’t gain fat or see your stamina melt away in the process, start incorporating hurricane sprints into your training once a week.

Your results are going to be impossible to deny.

About the Author

John Fawkes is a fitness coach who helps smart, motivated people develop the discipline to get into amazing shape. He focuses on some of the most under-discussed topics in fitness- such as sex, accountability systems, mental performance, and the social influences that can help or hinder our fitness efforts. John provides a free five-day fitness turnaround course, and you can follow him on Twitter.

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