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At the Speed of Martin Rooney: Why You HAVE to Sprint

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Muscle

sprinting2Hey Renegades, I’ve got a great interview for you today with my colleague, Martin Rooney, the creator of the Training For Warriors system. Check it out…

Jason:  Let’s start with an exercise that both of us share a common love for – sprinting. Why should people be doing it?

Martin:  Thanks Jason.  Funny we start with sprinting because I say that sprinting is the exercise that most people stopped doing a long time ago.  Most trainers aren’t doing any speed work and it’s a shame. Lifting weights and then sitting on the couch is not complete training.  Sprinting, even if you think about gym class, used to be mandatory for a number of reasons.  Not only does sprinting get your nervous system fired up, it also releases endorphins and growth hormone, and activates muscle fibers that would otherwise be dormant. That means triggering muscle growth and burning fat, all while doing something for which your body was built to do.  After all, why have Achilles tendons to store energy if you were made to jog on your heels?

Jason: Those are great points.  So about sprinting: How often? How many sets and for what kind of distance?

Martin:  Well, I usually answer questions like these with two words: It Depends.  Every client is different, starts at a different level and can tolerate a variety of intensities.  I would always suggest a conservative approach.  I know that may not sound like my style, but it is. If you hurt someone, they can’t train.  If they can’t train, they don’t pay.  If they don’t pay, you don’t eat.  So, if you like eating, make sure you use proper training.

For most of my clients, however, I like to use 30-40 yards of distance to start.  6-10 reps of a sprint will be enough as well, but the key is not the sets, it is the intensity.  I have found that there is a breaking point where technique falls apart and your nervous system gets fried.  The key is to find this in your clients and stay just below it.

Jason:  Interesting stuff.  Since I know you use sprinting in your TFW style of training, do you have any theories to support speed work like this over new and popular exercises like the kettlebell, TRX and rope?

Martin:  This is a great question.  Now, don’t get me wrong, all of the tools you mentioned are great for getting people engaged with exercise and can be used to produce results.  I also use all of them in my training on a weekly basis.  In my hierarchy of exercise, however, I choose the sprint.  If you look at an Olympic sprinter, you will see a body most people want.  As I tried to understand how these results were produced I pulled an important lesson from this that I call the The TFW Lock-And-Key Mechanism of Sprinting. Here is how I explain it.

Do you think ingesting 1000 calories of junk food has the same effect on the body as ingesting 1000 calories of fruits and vegetables?  Most people would say “no” and I agree.  A calorie in is not a calorie in.  Your body has a way according to how it was designed and has evolved, to recognize foods differently.  This leads to different effects that are produced on your body, some good and some bad, depending on what you put in the hole under your nose.

Jason:  I would agree with that.

Martin:  Of Course!  And since we all agree on input, I just want people to think about output.  If we all agree there are better foods to achieve optimal health, what about an optimal output mechanism?  Since muscle growth, fat loss and health are what all clients are after, why aren’t we searching for this instead of what’s cool, colorful and new.  Although sprinting isn’t as “sexy,” I still think it is the best.

Jason:  Now what about jogging? The Renegade Nation knows my feelings on that but in your mind,  does that count?

Martin:  I say “no.”  I know that will ruffle some feathers, but jogging as a hobby or for fitness is newer than you think.  Without a “fun run,” which I say is an oxymoron or marathon in your town, you probably wouldn’t do it.  And although jogging looks like sprinting, you are not using your body the way it’s designed to be used.  Jogging is constant breaking that pounds your body, chews up muscle and bangs you up.  Again look at the body style.  No one comes in and tells me they want to look like a marathon runner.  So stick with what the sprint is telling us.

Jason: I guess that is enough said on that.  So where and how then do you use sprinting in your TFW system?

Martin:  In my system, we have strength days and metabolic days called Hurricane Days. On the strength day, I load you up.  On the Hurricane day, I jack you up.   The simple truth I have found over the years: If you want to get fast, you need to train fast!   This training for speed and power can not only be invigorating, it can also help to prevent injury as well.   The impacts on your body with sprint training can help to stimulate muscle growth and protect you from possible problems.

Hurricane Training is one of the most popular forms of TFW.  The template for a Hurricane does not change: one form of a sprint variation, which could be a treadmill, regular sprint, ladder, resisted band run, hills, or stairs followed by two exercises repeated for nine sets.  We do this two workouts a week.  The good news is that you choose the sprint variation according to the client, the exercises and the rest in between.  Just follow the formula and results will be yours.

Jason:  This is great stuff.  I know you share a lot of this information and more in your new Training For Warriors Certification program.  Can you tell us about that?

Martin:  Sure.  Yes, over the last 3 years, I have been presenting certification events around the world.  In addition to sprint and metabolic training, I also cover topics like evaluations, warmups, bodyweight training, coaching and my warrior challenges.  Over 1200 people have been through the course and now there is an online version.  If anyone wants to get a taste of the course and learn more about TFW, they can sign up for my “Free TFW Video Course” HERE.

Jason:  Thanks again Martin for coming on an sharing the information.  This should get people thinking and asking the right questions about their training.

Martin:  My pleasure Jason and I hope this gets everyone thinking a little differently about the sprint.

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12 Responses to At the Speed of Martin Rooney: Why You HAVE to Sprint

  1. Daniel Aipa September 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    Words from the man himself – Martin Rooney. I do think many people forget the importance of sprint training. But it is super important for the coach/trainer to know where their athlete/client is on a fitness and conditioning level. I think many people go a bit crazy with sprint training which in turn increases the risk of injury. It’s like making someone doing a max rep power clean after making the sprint 400 meters. Disaster is bound to happen. Like Coach Rooney said, “If you hurt someone, they can’t train. If they can’t train, they don’t pay. If they don’t pay, you don’t eat.” Solid information! Aloha

  2. glen chaytor September 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    ferruggia and rooney together..awesome…did level 1 TFW with martin this summer…amazing experience…

  3. Michael Richards September 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    I few years back I completed the level 1 TFW certification. I can honestly say it was one of the most motivating experiences of my life. No one gets me fired up like Martin Rooney.

  4. Samantha @ 10,000 Squats September 17, 2013 at 7:20 am #

    Great interview! I’m not a huge fan of sprints myself but after reading a bit more about it here I can understand the benefits. I don’t think I’m in sprinting shape yet but maybe one day! Thanks for sharing this interview.

  5. Philip September 17, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    Jogging is so overrated. If you want to increase muscle, lose fat, and regulate your hormones and metabolism, you have to incorporate sprints into your exercise routine. Same goes for squats on your lifting days. Both exercises are excellent for increasing testosterone and growth hormone (HGH).

  6. Tim September 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    Hey Jason,

    I’m a huge fan of the whole “sprinting > jogging” concept that you’ve talked about for years now. However, I am an avid soccer player and sometimes do enjoy a long run outside once in a while to clear my head & relieve me from stress. Given that soccer definitely has an endurance component to it, how would you recommend I go about my training? I deadlift 5×5 once a week (sometimes 4×6) and supplement with other lower body exercises like glute ham raises, split squats, single leg squats, etc. How should I incorporate running to compliment this? Would sprinting give me the necessary carry-over I need to play soccer, or would you recommend a mix of sprinting and endurance running?


  7. Thierry September 17, 2013 at 10:50 pm #


    I had the chance to meet Martin Rooney here in Europe during my TFW 1 certification. This man is amazing. He will get everybody “on fire”.

    Since than, I incorporated sprinting in my workout routines and also in those of my clients. Amazing how they feel and how energy-loaded they are now.

    So, the duo: Jason & Martin is just perfect…

    Greets from Switzerland

  8. Nick September 18, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    Man I’m 25 and I’m pretty sure I herniated a disc about two years ago (bad squat form, haven’t gotten it checked out but all the symptoms are there) and every time I do a major leg workout it stays sore for a few days afterwards. Are sprints still ok or am I just going to keep destroying myself?

  9. Dave Brown September 20, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    He brings up some interesting points I didn’t think about concerning sprinting. I may have to add some sprinting to my workouts. Thanks.

  10. S Smit September 22, 2013 at 2:27 am #

    Yeah, sprinting has helped me loosen up my leg muscles but I don’t think it’s for everybody.

  11. Marcello Teofilatto September 24, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    Rooney generally recommends 30-40 yards of distance for 6-10 reps. How long should we rest between them? Just the time to catch our breath or a full recovery? Thanks.

  12. Arun September 26, 2013 at 5:47 am #

    Hi Jason:
    Just subscribed to your site a few days back. I am very happy with the excellent inputs I am getting.

    I am 50+ and like the idea of sprinting. The Gym that I use has a treadmill that has a max speed of 20 kms/hr. I like to follow HIIT. Here is what I do:

    1. 30 secs @ 5.5 Kms/hr followed by 30 secs @ 8.8 Kms/hr
    2. 2 mins @ 13.5 Kms/hr followed by 1 min rest.
    3. 1 min @ 15.5 Kms/hr followed by 1 min rest.
    4. 1 min @ 16.5 kms/hr followed by 1 min rest
    5. 1 min @ 17.5 kms/hr followed by 1 min rest.
    6. 1 min @ 18.5 kms/hr followed by 1 min rest.
    7. 1 min @ 18.5 kms/hr followed by 1.5 mins rest.
    8. 30 secs @ 20 kms/hr

    Does this count as Sprinting ? Do you approve ? or Do you have a recommendation ?

    Thanks !
    (I am based out of Delhi, India)