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Jogging vs. Sprinting
Which One Is More Effective?

Last updated: August 20, 2021

When it comes to running, you can jog for long distances at a leisurely pace or blow off steam with a quick and exhausting sprint.

Both have their place as a workout exercise; the question is - which one should you pick?

To help you make a decision, we’ve spent hours examining the effects of jogging vs. sprinting, as well as the pros and cons of each. Read on to find out which one is for you.

What is the Difference Between Jogging and Sprinting?

Jogging and sprinting

Both jogging and sprinting provide many cardiovascular benefits. Jogging is a low-intensity cardio workout, whereas sprinting is a high-intensity exercise.

Jogging is characterized by slow-paced running. It is an aerobic exercise where the individual maintains a constant pace throughout the run.

While there isn’t a prescribed speed for jogging, the focus is on running at a pace that can allow you to cover great distances without the need for rest.

Sprinting involves running at max speed over a short amount of distance.

As an anaerobic exercise, it is much more exhausting than jogging due to its explosive nature and stress on the body.

The key differences between these exercises include:

Pace

A person jogging
  •  Jogging involves running at a comfortable speed that is maintained over a majority of the run. It is less taxing on the body as it does not require as high of an energy output.
  • A sprint workout is about running as quickly as possible. This exercise forces the body to exert maximum effort and energy to cover maximum distance in minimal time.

Due to the high speed and the large amount of effort required, sprint workouts are often divided into interval training to give the runner time to rest.

Distance

A man jogging
  • Jogging involves trekking over great distances from kilometres to miles
  • Sprinting covers only hundreds of meters.

At the Olympic level, marathons (26.2 miles) and half-marathons (13 miles) are good examples of jogging, whereas the 100m, 200m, and 400m dash are examples of professional sprints on the track.

Technique

A woman wearing a facemask
  • Jogging prioritizes stamina over speed and power.
    Maintaining a constant pace over a long distance allows your muscles to become accustomed to the movements and stress applied.
    That helps the runner develop endurance and stamina.
  • Sprinting workouts prioritize the exact opposite by inducing the muscles to rapidly lengthen and contract.
    That helps the runner develop speed and power in their lower body, as well as building muscle size and strength.

Which Exercise Is Better?

Jogging and sprinting target the same muscle groups in the lower body but with different intensity.

Each exercise has its own pros and cons that impact physical fitness, body composition, and general body health.

Jogging Workouts

A woman stretching her heel and toe

Jogging is a low-impact cardiovascular workout suitable for anyone regardless of their athletic capabilities.

Start slowly on setting a moderate pace and distance, gradually increasing over time for best results.

Tips:

  • Start with 10-15 minutes of stretching to warm up.
  • Pacing yourself is important for success. Using a smartphone or stopwatch can help you track your speed, distance, and even the number of calories you burn.
  • Having a jogging partner or group can help you stay motivated and push you beyond your limits.
Pros
  • Improves heart health
  • Burns calories and helps you lose weight
  • Promotes muscular endurance
  • Strengthens leg muscles
  • Acts as a warm-up for other exercises
  • Develops joint and bone strength
  • Boosts your mood and minimizes mental health issues like depression
Cons
  • May eventually hit a training plateau once the body gets used to long-distance running

Sprinting Workouts

A man sprinting outdoor

Tips:

  • Start with a 10-minute warm-up via jogging or stretching to prevent injury.
  • Split the exercise into varying sets as interval training.  For example, for the first set, sprint 50 meters at max speed, 100 meters at 75% effort for the second, and 200 meters at half speed for the third.
  • The best way to recover after a sprint is to gradually lower your running speed until you are walking. That helps the muscles slowly relax and cool off instead of abruptly causing them to stop
Pros
  • Burns fat and more calories than jogging due to the intensity of the exercise
  • Tones muscles
  • Increases speed and overall body athletic performance
  • Promotes cardiovascular health
  • Improves lower body power and explosiveness
Cons
  • Sprint training is suitable for older audiences (knee and joint pain or related issues), or individuals with heart complications

Sprinting vs. Jogging: An in-Depth Comparison

Both long-distance jogging and sprinting workouts are effective exercises you can incorporate into your workout routine.

Below is a head-to-head comparison of the exercises and how they impact the body.

Heart Health

Tired woman catching her breath

All forms of cardio, including sprinting and jogging, help improve heart health through blood pressure control and lowering cholesterol levels.

If you’re looking to promote heart and overall cardiovascular wellness, jogging is a better option than sprinting.

It is because jogging involves maintaining a steady pace over long distances, which increases heart rate and blood circulation.

As a result, the heart becomes stronger and capable of handling greater amounts of stress and pressure.

Related: How to Calculate Your Heart Rate for Weight Loss?

Muscle Mass

Woman flexing her muscles

Despite both exercises targeting the same muscles, the fibers stimulated within those muscles and the impact experienced are different.

  • Jogging activates slow-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are small but resistant to fatigue, making them fit for prolonged aerobic exercise. They are the primary muscles utilized when strength and power are not a priority.
  • Sprinting activates fast-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are stronger and larger compared to their slow-twitch counterparts and are responsible for jumping, weight lifting, and providing explosive power to the lower body.

They are also responsible for giving sprinters a muscular physique.

For someone trying to increase their muscle mass, sprinting workouts are the way to go. Sprinting workouts are high-intensity and vigorously stress the larger fast-twitch muscle fibers, thereby stimulating muscular development.

Another way to look at it is by comparing how athletic sprinters look against their marathon counterparts. Sprinters typically have a muscular and bulky physique, whereas marathon runners are leaner.

Weight Loss

A person on a weighing scale

Jogging and sprinting are both effective ways to shed off those extra pounds.

These exercises force the body to burn fat as an energy source for fueling a workout.

If you’re looking to shed weight, you’ll want to prioritize sprinting as it burns fat at a faster rate compared to jogging.

That can be credited to the fact that sprinting is an anaerobic exercise that requires a lot more effort than jogging.

Compared to a steadily paced jog which the body adapts to, sprinting involves pushing your body to achieve maximum speed.

This stress results in the burning of more calories, which translates to more weight that is lost.

Additionally, the body’s EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) process also plays a significant role in weight loss.

This process takes place after a workout and involves the body breaking down fats as the primary energy source.

The more intense the exercise is, the longer and effective the EPOC process will be.

For someone struggling to lose weight, sprints can be next to impossible to perform at first.

If you are just getting started with running exercises, it is more practical to start with jogging as it is easier, with the option to scale the intensity as your body becomes more accustomed.

Mood Control and Mental Health

Partners exercising outside

Physical workout plays a vital role in promoting mental wellness.

According to researchers:

“Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal  [1].” - Ashish Sharma, Medical Researcher

Therefore, it makes sense that running consistently can help boost your mood and relieve your mind from stress.

Of the two, jogging is more efficient in releasing feel-good chemicals into your brain.

The steady pace and relaxing nature of the exercise stimulate the release of endorphins which help relieve your mind from stress.

That explains why you feel calm and relaxed after a jog.

If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, taking a jog every other day can help to alleviate symptoms.

Related Articles:

Core Strength

A woman's core

Toning up the waistline and achieving a well-defined six-pack is something we all strive towards, yet very few achieve.

As the stomach area carries a large bulk of our body fat, it can be difficult to shed without persistent effort.

Running exercises help burn calories and reduce love handles, making it a great way to build core strength.

Additionally, the explosive nature of sprint exercises targets fat deposits that cover the abs.

The continuous lifting and stretching motion that comes with running affects the stomach’s visceral fats, leading to a reduced waist circumference.

If you are looking to burn fat and develop rock-hard abs, sprints are a great addition to your running routine.

Muscular Endurance

A man flexing his big muscles

As an essential aspect of physical and cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance helps your muscles withstand impact and strenuous exercises without succumbing to injuries and fatigue.

Long-distance runners are particularly known for their muscular endurance. As a result, it’s no surprise that jogging helps develop endurance and stamina.

That makes it easier to conduct strenuous tasks with your feet, such as climbing up hills and standing for long periods of time.

Strength Training

Calf muscles forming from doing jogging and sprinting

Jogging and sprinting both contribute a significant degree of strength towards the lower body.

  • Sprinting helps improve muscular strength in your glutes, hamstrings, calves, quads, hips, and abs. This strength is essential for good posture, athletic performance, and the execution of ordinary tasks such as turning or jumping.
  • Jogging, on the other hand, promotes bone and joint strength through consistent motion in the legs. That helps strengthen the ligaments and tendons, which are responsible for keeping your joints stable and strong.

FAQs

Who Should Not Sprint or Jog?

Individuals with heart conditions should limit intense cardio activity like sprinting and jogging. Additionally, pregnant women, as well as older people, should avoid sprinting to prevent complications.

How Often Should You Sprint or Jog?

If your purpose is for athletic performance, running five days a week is optimal. Otherwise, three to four alternate days are enough to help you keep fit and lose weight.

Is It Better To Run Indoors or Outdoors?

Running indoors is preferable for days where the weather is too extreme, or you’re feeling lazy.

If you’re looking for a challenge, outdoors is a better choice as it exposes you to more challenges such as wind resistance, weather, and rough terrain. It’s also much more enjoyable as you aren’t confined to running at a set pace and have the freedom to speed up or slow down as you like.

Sprinting vs. Jogging - Final Thoughts

When it comes to the contest between sprinting vs. jogging, there is no clear winner. Both types of running workouts have their share of benefits as well as risks.

If you’re looking to build stamina and endurance, aerobic exercises like jogging are an optimal choice.

For explosive bursts of speed and power that fizzle out quickly, sprinting is the better option.

Our opinion? Incorporate both jogging and sprinting into your routine to reap the benefits of both and minimize the risks. After all, a body that has both stamina and power is a force to be reckoned with.

Let us know how these running exercises impact your performance.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/

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