Do Sprints Work Your Abs?

Athletes arrives at finish line on racetrack

Sprints give your body an exhausting, high-impact workout in a short amount of time. Sprinting yields a high caloric expenditure, a fast metabolism and well-defined, lean muscles. The abs reside in the midsection, and they are included in this muscle recruitment.

Function of Abs

The abs consist of the rectus abdominis, obliques and transverse abdominis. The rectus abdominis starts at the pelvis and runs up to the lower chest. The obliques run down the sides of the stomach diagonally. The transverse abdominis is an internal muscle that gets activated when you suck your stomach in. While you sprint, all of these muscles contract forcefully to help generate power. You also need to keep your abs tight to maintain a stable spine.

Other Muscles Worked

The abs work as stabilizing muscles during a sprint. Other major muscles in the lower body act as primary movers. The glutes, which are also known as the buttocks, get activated when you perform hip extension. This takes place when you kick your leg behind your body. The hamstrings sit on the back of the thighs and they get worked with hip extension and knee flexion. Knee flexion occurs when you lift your foot off the ground, bend your knee and move your heel in the air. The quadriceps run down the front of the thighs and they get worked when you flex your hips and extend your knees. Hip flexion takes place when you move your thigh toward your stomach, and knee extension occurs when you straighten your leg.

Proper Form for Best Results

To capitalize on the effect sprints have on your abs, it is important to run with proper form. Always look straight ahead, keep your shoulders lifted and push off the ground forcefully with each stride. Pump your arms in a smooth, alternating fashion with your legs and focus on contracting your abs to generate power.

Tips About Sprints

When doing your sprints, either alternate between all-out effort and complete rest or, all-out effort and low effort. As a rule of thumb, follow a 1-to-2 work-rest ratio. For example, sprint for 15 seconds and rest for 30 seconds. To increase the workload on your abs even more, include hill sprints in your workouts. Sprint to the top of the hill, jog down slowly to recover, then sprint back up. If you do not like running, choose another form of cardio like elliptical training, jumping rope or rowing. All of these forms naturally cause you to contract your abs. The most important thing is that you use proper technique and exercise at a maximal intensity.

Word of Warning

Sprinting is very intense. If you are new to exercise, make sure to get clearance from your doctor before attempting. Also, start off with shorter sprints and less reps and gradually increase both as you get into better shape.