How Do Sprinters Train?

Competitive sprinters train in specific phases, moving from strength to power to speed. Because the exercises for these training phases can interfere with each other, it’s best to work on type of training at a time, or taper off from one training phase as you begin the next. You can use different exercises in each training phase, but the emphasis of your training should be on one skill each phase to maximize the benefits.


Sprinter Training Schedule

Start a training plan working on muscle building. Do this several months before your season starts, because you’ll need to perform more race-specific exercises as you get closer to the start of your season. Start with strength training to build your muscles. Move to explosive power exercise to help you make a quick movement in one direction. Progress to plyometric exercises to simulate the running movement. Finish with speed drills.

Resistance Training

Use heavy weights or high-resistance settings to build muscle, performing multiple sets of one exercise at a time. Perform five reps of an exercise, take a break of several minutes, then repeat the same exercise five more times. Perform three sets. Perform deadlifts, squats, lunges, presses, hamstring curls and calf raises.

Explosive Power

Perform exercises that emphasize one, powerful movement with your legs. These include deadlifts, box squats and box jumps. Perform five repetitions of an exercise each set, changing to a new exercise after each set. Start these workouts after your muscle-building workouts end, about two months before your season starts.


Train your ability to coordinate two or more muscle movements with plyometric exercises. Start these toward the end of the explosive power phase of your training schedule, about a month before your season starts. Perform bounding, reactive squats, 1-2-3 jumps, depth jumps, shock jumps, skipping, sprinting and other exercises that create up-and-down movements. For 1-2-3 jumps, take two running strides forward, then jump on the third stride. Do this the length of a track, then walk back. Repeat the exercise starting with the other foot.

Speed Drills

Use resistance and assistance to help you run faster than normal. Run attached to a bungee or other flexible cord, having your partner release the cord after several steps. This will create a short burst of overspeed. Run down steep hills, using gravity to help you run faster than normal. Run with a track parachute on your back to make your legs work faster than normal to achieve speed. Re-run the same distance without the parachute. Your central nervous system will be programmed to resist the parachute, moving your legs faster than normal.


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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or