Everyone wants to know what the secret behind getting great abs is, right?

A lot of the advice out there starts you with direct ab exercises like sit-ups and crunches.  No doubt these exercises can work your ab muscles, but if you really want a chiseled mid section, you can’t stop there.

There’s one specific ab-sculpting exercise that doesn’t get anywhere near enough attention as it should, considering just how effective it has proven to be.  What is it?

Sprinting.

There is no exercise that activates the ab muscles with as much force as sprinting.

Let’s take a look at how it all works together how you can incorporate it into your routine.

Sprinting Engages Your Core

Sprinting engages your abs.  You’re just too busy running your ass off to realize it.

The arm swinging, and the powerful leg thrusting…all of that power comes from you core.

And not just the exterior core muscles that give you the six-pack.  Sprinting activates your anterior core muscles — the muscles that really give you strength, as well as your obliques.

Sprinting requires a lot from your core.

Think about a sprinter running down the track.  His arms and legs and pumping, creating a huge force on both sides of the body, twisting the muscles from side to side.

The only reason the body can stay upright is because all the pressure and force happening by your contracting core.

It’s very unlikely that you could ever rep out enough crunches to create the same amount of force.

Sprinting Boosts Fat Loss

So many people spend their time doing an endless amount of crunches and sit-ups, but the problem is, their body fat is too high for them to be able to see their abs.

You may have great abs but not even know it because they’re covered up!

Running is a fast, fun and effective way to burn fat. Doing it consistently will also boost your metabolism. The higher your metabolic rate is, the better your body will be at burning fat, even when it’s in a rested state.

So if you find the idea of slowly jogging on a treadmill for 45 minutes a day boring, raise the intensity and become more effective in a shorter duration of time by implementing sprints into your routine.

The After Burn

What really makes sprinting such an effective ab workout is the after burn.

Sprinting sets fat loss into motion by activating biochemical reactions that turn on your fat burning machinery. This concept is popularly known as the metabolic after burn effect.

The after burn represents the body’s attempt to recover, repair and regenerate after intense exercise.

Anyone who has ever ran a 100-yard dash or walked up a large flight of steps knows what the beginning stages of the after burn feels like (breathless, burning sensation, etc.). It is that period of time just after stopping an intense movement where you have to stop and gasp for air that lets you know you have achieved it.

During this after burn period, you will burn fat and start to expose those abs.  Run hard enough, and this after burn can last for hours.

How To Sprint Effectively

It’s important to keep a good form not only to prevent injury, but to make sure you’re getting the most out of your sprint.

First of all, you’re going to want to find an outdoor space where there’s enough room for you to be able to run properly. This could either be your nearest park or even the street just outside your house.

When sprinting, keep your knees up and your arms driving straight up and down in a powerful exaggerated arcing motion. Keep the chest forward with a slight lean.

Move down the track (or beach, or field) with intensity, using your arms and legs to propel you forward.

Remember that intensity is relative. If you aren’t in very good shape and sprinting for the first time in years, intense may just a fast walk or jog with an exaggerated arm and leg movement like a sprinter.

If you are a seasoned athlete, aim for a 100% sprint.  Complete three real sprints (about 30 meters) and then repeat again in three to seven days adding a sprint each time until you are able to do ten in a row.

If you don’t love the idea of sprinting in a straight line, you can also try shuttle runs.

Shuttle runs are a great way to add variety to your training and they also provide slightly different benefits than those of usual sprinting.

They still demand explosiveness, but instead of running with the intention of being as fast as possible, you’re also aiming to change directions as quickly as you can too.

If you set out five cones, you’d start off by running to the first one, touching it and immediately turning around to go back to the starting position. Without any rest, you’d run to the second cone and continue this cycle until all five cones had been touched.

Have fun using sprints to get that six pack.

Professional calisthenics athlete and coach. Adam take bits and pieces from all the different types of sports and training he’s done over the years. Check out his newest program:
Calisthenics LIVE.