3

votes

Why sprint only once a week?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 21, 2011 at 3:06 PM

A lot of wisdom (mainly MDA but also others) recommends sprinting once per week. This confuses me a little.

  1. My understanding is that our bodies recover and repair much faster than that.
  2. I can't imagine our ancestors only hunting once a week (this does assume, as seems to be the dominant approach to paleo and sprinting justification, that hunting is the main reason/back-story to our need to sprint...this is not meant to re-open old debates on that point)

So why once a week sprints? What's the mechanism behind the "Less is more" approach to sprinting?

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on December 22, 2011
at 09:08 AM

I just want to be as fit and lean as I can be. CW would udually prescribe more rather than less. So I have an innate tendency to want to do a good thing as often as possible, tempered by the desire to not cause damage. My question was trying to get at what is happening to my body when sprinting and recovering so that I can optimise the effects. So will I be generally fitter (for example to play soccer with my sons for longer) if I sprint once a week vs twice a week? Will I be leaner if I sprint twice a week? Clearly I know I will be leaner and fitter if I don't damage my body...

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 21, 2011
at 06:05 PM

Of course you can sprint a lot more often. My question would be, why sprint twice a week? Atheletes have to perform regularly, their aim is for the best performance they can maintain during the season. They also need to train, it's not simply about muscle efficiency or health. And the competition is a level playing field. The primal sprint reasoning is one of the smallest factors in success as a professional sportsman, it's simply not a good basis for comparison. Why do *you* want to sprint at all?

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on December 21, 2011
at 05:54 PM

AndyM - all valid points but not quite what I was saying...my point was simply that walking/sprinting/carrying would all have been done on the same day while hunting. I didn't mean to imply Usain Bolt does LOTS of sprinting, but I would observe he does it more than once per week. And footballers get fatigued sure...doing significantly more than once a week and 10 minutes..with training it's more like 5 days and each day well over the 10 mins... I guess I'm looking for answers on the more moderate middle ground, so you could take the question as: why not sprint twice a week? if you'd like to

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 21, 2011
at 05:27 PM

Walking doesn't overstress the body. That's kind of the point. You can walk all day to get your kill home, but you wouldn't be sprinting back doing overhead presses with it. I would distrust your experience of CW from the gym industry, although without specifying goals it's all still a bit meaningless. And I don't think you find Usain Bolt running lots of practise runs before the Olympic final. They struggle to even maintain performance with the same week. And how many footballers get through the season playing every game (twice a week) without fatigue?

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on December 21, 2011
at 05:14 PM

My reading of MDA from his exercise pyramid is sprint once every 7 to 10 days. That does sound like a limit to me...otherwise the 7 would be lower, no?

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 21, 2011
at 04:27 PM

I agree. MDA and others recommend sprinting once a week as a necessary thing, not as a limit.

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:45 PM

...and on top of that, hunting in the autumn to store meat for the winter, and add in the odd hairy escape, then it seems to me to add up to more than once per week. Also, I'd expect to combine activities on single days: on hunting days you also have to walk a long way and carry your meat home again...you can't leave it where you kill it for another day because you are a bit tired and don't want to overstress your body

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:43 PM

My understanding is from some CW on recovery times from the gym industry, some personal n=1 experience of how long it takes to recover, and general observations of good sprinters (like footballers - or soccer players for our US hackers -, actual sprinters like Usain Bolt) and their patterns of training and competition...etc On hunting, while I do love venison, you are right, I would struggle to eat a whole deer a day...but equally I'd expect to hunt with others and share the spoils, and not expect the deer we caught together to last a week (incl feeding the wife and kids)...

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5 Answers

4
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:13 PM

Sprint as much as you want, it really depends on your goals.

I think MDA recommends once a week because you probably don't need much more(debatable) if your goal is to maintain a basic level of health/fitness.

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on December 21, 2011
at 05:14 PM

My reading of MDA from his exercise pyramid is sprint once every 7 to 10 days. That does sound like a limit to me...otherwise the 7 would be lower, no?

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 21, 2011
at 04:27 PM

I agree. MDA and others recommend sprinting once a week as a necessary thing, not as a limit.

2
7842808cd699f35741248f8e55c776bd

(218)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:18 PM

High intensity equals lower frequency. You can see this in Mark's recommendations for each type of exercise: Sprint 1x/wk, Lift Heavy Things 2-3x/wk, Walk 3-5 miles/wk. He also recommends play, which almost always would involve some sprinting (for him, Ultimate) so really you get sprints on other days, just not in a HIIT. Any more and you do risk injury in some form.

2
Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:14 PM

I don't know where your understanding of how long it takes to repair tissue comes from. It does not match mine.

Sprinting would not have been necessary for most 'hunts', not everyone in the group would have to sprint every time, and you'd struggle to eat an antelope a day. Sprinting would also have been employed as escape, but again, not every day. Our usccess on both fronts came from being smarter than that.

I expect there is also an element to which engaging in more frequent sprinting, along with your weight training, would leave you taking on intense activity most days, which would require specific fueling to maintain. Plenty of atheletes do of course, but as an all-round approach to not over-stressing the body once a week seems to be sufficient. I think you confusion mainly comes from some, erm, unexpected assumptions.

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 21, 2011
at 05:27 PM

Walking doesn't overstress the body. That's kind of the point. You can walk all day to get your kill home, but you wouldn't be sprinting back doing overhead presses with it. I would distrust your experience of CW from the gym industry, although without specifying goals it's all still a bit meaningless. And I don't think you find Usain Bolt running lots of practise runs before the Olympic final. They struggle to even maintain performance with the same week. And how many footballers get through the season playing every game (twice a week) without fatigue?

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:45 PM

...and on top of that, hunting in the autumn to store meat for the winter, and add in the odd hairy escape, then it seems to me to add up to more than once per week. Also, I'd expect to combine activities on single days: on hunting days you also have to walk a long way and carry your meat home again...you can't leave it where you kill it for another day because you are a bit tired and don't want to overstress your body

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on December 21, 2011
at 05:54 PM

AndyM - all valid points but not quite what I was saying...my point was simply that walking/sprinting/carrying would all have been done on the same day while hunting. I didn't mean to imply Usain Bolt does LOTS of sprinting, but I would observe he does it more than once per week. And footballers get fatigued sure...doing significantly more than once a week and 10 minutes..with training it's more like 5 days and each day well over the 10 mins... I guess I'm looking for answers on the more moderate middle ground, so you could take the question as: why not sprint twice a week? if you'd like to

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on December 21, 2011
at 03:43 PM

My understanding is from some CW on recovery times from the gym industry, some personal n=1 experience of how long it takes to recover, and general observations of good sprinters (like footballers - or soccer players for our US hackers -, actual sprinters like Usain Bolt) and their patterns of training and competition...etc On hunting, while I do love venison, you are right, I would struggle to eat a whole deer a day...but equally I'd expect to hunt with others and share the spoils, and not expect the deer we caught together to last a week (incl feeding the wife and kids)...

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 21, 2011
at 06:05 PM

Of course you can sprint a lot more often. My question would be, why sprint twice a week? Atheletes have to perform regularly, their aim is for the best performance they can maintain during the season. They also need to train, it's not simply about muscle efficiency or health. And the competition is a level playing field. The primal sprint reasoning is one of the smallest factors in success as a professional sportsman, it's simply not a good basis for comparison. Why do *you* want to sprint at all?

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on December 22, 2011
at 09:08 AM

I just want to be as fit and lean as I can be. CW would udually prescribe more rather than less. So I have an innate tendency to want to do a good thing as often as possible, tempered by the desire to not cause damage. My question was trying to get at what is happening to my body when sprinting and recovering so that I can optimise the effects. So will I be generally fitter (for example to play soccer with my sons for longer) if I sprint once a week vs twice a week? Will I be leaner if I sprint twice a week? Clearly I know I will be leaner and fitter if I don't damage my body...

1
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on December 21, 2011
at 04:29 PM

Hunters only sprint all the time in the movies. Most hunting is full of walking quietly, waiting, more waiting, getting lucky and then carefully following. The biggest energy expenditure is probably for keeping warm.

1
Medium avatar

on December 21, 2011
at 04:21 PM

One thing I learned in my distance running days (still love the idea, just not into the sheer hours of training) is that most runners do their fast runs (tempo runs as well as HIIT and sprints) too slowly, and they do their slow runs too fast. My running times improved, along with my enjoyment, when I alternated fast days with slow days with rest days. Days off are crucial. Both in running and weight training, it's when the body grows and recovers from the "damage" intrinsic to effective training.

We can be pretty sure our ancestors didn't go running (fast or slow) for health benefits.

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