Nina Dobrev’s approach to fitness is both hardcore and sports-inspired.
So says Emily Samuel, Dobrev’s trainer at NYC-based celeb-favorite gym Dogpound. “What I really like about Nina is that she is super badass and she loves athletic training,” Samuel tells SELF. “I give her very athletic workouts that I would give an actual [pro] athlete.”
Exhibit A: an Instagram video posted yesterday on Dogpound's account shows the actor performing an all-out sprint on a treadmill while Samuel pulls her backwards with a resistance band. (Note: Dobrev is using a treadmill on which there's an option to control the belt manually, often called "dynamic mode." This move should not be done with an automatic motorized treadmill belt.)
You can check out the video, via @dogpound, here:
This banded sprint helps train explosive speed and power, while also strengthening several major muscles in your lower half.
The move improves explosiveness, acceleration, and maximum velocity, says Samuel, and much of the benefit comes from the resistance band component.
“Resistance bands are absolutely incredible,” says Samuel. “They help you get faster and be more explosive.” The role of the resistance band in this particular exercise is to “make the sprinting much more difficult and force the body to recruit muscle fibers more quickly,” says Samuel.
In other words, the banded movement teaches you how to “go from 0 to 100 super quickly,” Stephanie Mansour, Chicago-based certified personal trainer, tells SELF. This on-the-spot speed is helpful in sports like track, soccer, basketball, and football, where athletes need to engage their muscles “on demand” to perform full-out sprints. “It’s teaching yourself how to explode with a lot of power,” Mansour adds, and can improve your reaction time. This explosiveness can also translate to faster times in short-distance races and/or stronger finishing power at the end of any distance race.
There are also great strengthening benefits from this banded sprint. Running, in general, is great for strengthening the muscles in your lower half, and adding extra resistance in the form of the looped band increases these benefits. The move primarily works the quads and hips, says Mansour, and secondarily, the calves and core.
As you can probably imagine, this intense move is very challenging and comes with several important safety precautions.
The difficulty and nuance of this move mean it’s not a great bet for the beginner exerciser. “I would not give that to someone that doesn’t train three or four times a week,” says Samuel. “It’s a very advanced move.”
Also, for safety’s sake, this should “definitely be a supervised activity,” says Mansour—preferably with a certified trainer. The sprinting should only be done on a non-motorized treadmill, like Dobrev demos, or on the ground, says Samuel. It wouldn't work on a motorized treadmill where the belt is forcing you to go a certain speed.
Here are several ways you can attempt the move yourself—plus two regressions for beginners.
Start by picking a long resistance band that’s on the lighter side. Using a band that’s too heavy will “totally disrupt your form,” says Samuel, so start light at first. Once you have an appropriately sized resistance band, grab a partner and follow the steps below.
- Standing atop a non-motorized treadmill, or on the ground, loop the resistance band around your hip bones as your partner firmly holds the ends of the band.
- Lean your torso slightly forward and feel a slight tension on the band. Keep your chest lifted and back flat.
- Keeping a strong core and elongated spine, start sprinting as fast as you can, giving your maximum effort. If you’re on the treadmill, sprint for 15 to 20 seconds as your partner stands in a fixed position behind you and holds the resistance band at tension. If you’re on the ground, sprint as your partner walks behind you, keeping enough distance to maintain tension in the band.
- Once you’ve completed your sprint, perform a set of other exercises, like squats or lunges, for active recovery, recommends Samuel.
- Once recovered, perform up to four additional all-out sprints—and no more than that, suggests Samuel—with active recovery in between each sprint. Because this particular move is so demanding, “you want to keep the volume low,” she explains.
As you sprint, keep standard running cues in mind, says Mansour, like relaxed shoulders and regular breathing. “You never want to hold your breath while doing this type of sprinting,” says Mansour. Your lean forward should be no more than 45 degrees, she adds.
If you’re not quite ready for Dobrev’s version, you can regress the move by affixing the band to a stable object (like a pole or heavy piece of furniture) and then leaning slightly forward to complete short, fast bursts of high knees, suggests Samuel. Keep a "super tight core" as you do this, she says.
You could also simply try walking on the treadmill while someone holds the resistance band behind you, says Mansour. It won’t train your explosiveness and power, she explains, but it will still provide the lower-body strengthening benefits mentioned above.