What are Wind Sprints?

Dan Cavallari

Wind sprints are a type of aerobic exercise designed to increase strength and cardiovascular health. They are performed while running at a moderate to easy pace, then sprinting hard for several seconds, and finally returning to the moderate running pace. Wind sprints are designed to ramp up the heart rate quickly and make the muscles work hard for a short amount of time, then sustain the work at a moderate pace after the sprint. The name does not mean the runner runs against the wind, as some people believe; it may have been named as such because the runner is likely to become "winded," or tired, during this exercise.

Wind sprinters vary their speed during a run.
Wind sprinters vary their speed during a run.

To perform wind sprints, a runner should start by running at a moderate pace for several minutes. This period is important to get the body ready for more athletic strain and to loosen the muscles to prevent injuries. The heart rate will rise to a moderate level during this phase, again preparing the body for more strenuous exercise. After about 10 to 15 minutes of running at this moderate pace, it is time to begin doing wind sprints. The runner will increase his or her running speed to a sprint, but not necessarily to a maximum speed. This sprint should last from 10 to 30 seconds, and then the runner should reduce his or her speed back down to the moderate pace.

Wind sprints may result in injury if done incorrectly.
Wind sprints may result in injury if done incorrectly.

It is important to keep running at the moderate pace after the wind sprints and to avoid slowing down or stopping altogether. It is during this phase of the wind sprints that the muscles are forced to continue to work and therefore become stronger and more consistent. The lungs and heart must also continue to work hard, meaning the body will improve its oxygen delivery to the muscles, thereby promoting healthier muscle function. Wind sprints should be repeated several times during a period of running, and as the runner becomes more used to the sprints, the sprint times should be increased as well as the sprint frequency during the run.

Wind sprints typically go at full speed for 10 to 30 seconds.
Wind sprints typically go at full speed for 10 to 30 seconds.

Once the sprinting period is finished, the runner should do a cool-down period at a slow to moderate pace. He or she should then spend a fair amount of time stretching the muscles of the legs and lower back to help prevent injury and keep the muscles limber and healthy. People who are new to this exercise should start with fewer sprints at slower speeds to prevent injury.

Wind sprinters are recommended to avoid stopping after sprinting.
Wind sprinters are recommended to avoid stopping after sprinting.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


athletes on pictures are certainly not doing wind sprints as they were pictured - their mouths are shut tight.


Certain sports require you to perform wind sprints naturally while you are competing. Tennis and basketball are good examples since you are moving most of the time in these sports, and you are continually sprinting up and down, and back and forth on the courts.

The good thing about getting the wind sprints in on the courts is that you are so involved in the competition that you hardly even notice the torture you are putting your body through. Sports provide a good and fun way to get into and stay in shape.


@Laotionne - The main concept you need to remember when it comes to wind sprints, and most exercises for that matter, is that you are trying to push your body beyond where it is comfortable, and then you want to let your body relax and work at a comfortable pace.

From what you wrote, it sounds like you are not in great condition, so maybe you should have started with a regular walking pace and then, instead of sprinting, increased to a faster walking pace. As this article says, you want to start slow and build up your endurance with time. Try walking for a while and then build up to actual sprinting. This method should be less painful and more beneficial in the long run.


I'm not much of a runner, but I try to get some type of exercise in regularly to help me lose weight. Someone at the gym where I go sometimes told me to do wind sprints as a way of dropping some of the extra pounds that I cannot seem to keep off.

I started the sprints a couple of weeks ago and I had to stop because my muscles in the back of my legs hurt so much, and I was so sore and stiff. Of course there is going to be some soreness, but my muscles really hurt. I think I should have read more about the correct way to do wind sprints before I started, but I thought running was self explanatory.

Post your comments
Forgot password?