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Paul Rogers

Weight Training for Track Sprinters

By December 31, 2007

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Because I'm actually training for some masters sprinting events I'll have a lot more to say about this in the future, including a program you can follow.

Most serious track, cycle and swimming sprinters do some sort of weight training these days although it may not work for everyone. Carl Lewis, the great American sprinter and long jumper, says that he performed poorly in one year that he did weight training. But then, when you are as naturally endowed as he was, perhaps you don't fool around with it.

Being "fast" is pretty much an inherited thing and although there are training techniques that can improve speed to some extent, true sprinters are born and not made. Various forms of weight training may help by increasing leg strength and explosive strength and elasticity. Even so, you won't get faster by just doing leg strength exercises. You need to improve your plyometric or "bounce" strength. Mostly you will train for this on the track or hills. Explosive exercises in the gym may also complement this. Box jumps and marches are examples of exercises you could use.

Squats and deadlifts will enhance leg, back, butt and abdominal strength. "Power" exercises like hang cleans and push presses should provide all-round explosive strength. You need to use these exercises intelligently because they are very taxing and best used in a preparatory phase and not too close to competition time.

July 5, 2008 at 9:43 am
(1) OJOI says:


July 5, 2008 at 9:46 pm
(2) weighttraining says:

OJOI, it’s a little difficult without knowing his age, training program etc. Maybe he works too hard? Sometimes you need to take a little break in training so that the body can repair and all the hard work can get used in a race. Sometimes (mostly!) there are going to be guys who are better than you. It doesn’t mean you give up though. Best of luck to him.

November 28, 2008 at 1:06 am
(3) Mark Bellino says:

i am a sprinter and dont have really big legs but i can still run fast but wanna crack at least 10.30 people say i need to do legs weights. i do heaps of hill work do you think that is better

March 5, 2009 at 7:12 pm
(4) -cullen-baseball-lol says:

okay so i started running when i was like i dont know 6-ish but like long distances and i was okay in a race in my hometown there was about 500 people and i placed in the 100s i have also been in softball and dance for many years. But this will be my first year in Track. I plan to do 100m sprints. What things should i do diffrent from long distance runs and what things should i do the same. also what are some things i can to to train besides running? (for a 2 mile race my time is usually 10 minutes for a cross country run.)

May 12, 2009 at 2:23 pm
(5) randy says:

I am a boy that runs the 100m i get about 12.03 but i wanna get into the elevens or tens but dont know how to do it can u help me plz!!! thanks

May 21, 2009 at 6:54 pm
(6) weighttraining says:

Randy, go to the gym, find a coach if that’s possible, and find out how to do deadlifts and squats and how to integrate them into your training — which means not knocking your legs around at competition time.

August 21, 2009 at 4:19 am
(7) Larry says:

HI coach,this is larry.I run the 100 meters and 200m,i am always first out of the blocks and runs the first curve very fast,but everyone passes me in the straight line,i even stoped running the 100m because,i seriously cant move on the straight line,i wana run the 200m,i am 22 years,55kg,1.7m tall,and very slow (200m (22:90))100m(11:60)),do you think there is a way to improve this or must i just give up.i only have 1 month trainning though since 7 years back

August 24, 2009 at 8:01 pm
(8) charlton says:

Hi my name is charlton my pb is 10.6 secs which i ran last year i have been out of the sport for varios reasons please can u tell how best to regain fitness as well as wht gym programm it would be best to take up

August 25, 2009 at 1:26 pm
(9) steven mitchell says:

i have recently start running again in the sprint catagory after about a 6 year break. i am 23 11.5 stone 5foot 11inch, i recently joined a club and was wondering if you could tell me a training program for in the gym which i could follow to increase my times and help me gain leg strength



September 1, 2009 at 7:52 pm
(10) weighttraining says:
October 5, 2009 at 1:11 am
(11) Lewis says:

Hello, I have 3 young boys running track. Their ages 6,8,and 10. Next season will be their 2nd season running track. They are already fast but not the fastest. Can the 8 and 10 year olds train lightly with weights for 6 weeks before track season begins again to enhance muscle growth for explosive power. Lightly.

October 6, 2009 at 3:36 am
(12) weighttraining says:

Lewis . . . honestly, I would not bother with weight training at that age. I know you want them to succeed, but they will be better off just running fast — preferably with a coach’s instruction.
It’s not necessarily dangerous for them done lightly, but then again, they won’t get much advantage just doing light weights. I think about 12 yo is about right if you want to start weights with them.
In the interim, you could try including some plyometrics — bounds, jumps and hops etc. See if you can get a coach to advise on a program because you don’t want to overdo this either. Good luck.

February 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm
(13) shea oldhan says:

Hey, Coach im 14 years old track is starting in about 2-3 weeks. Im not very good a blocks i don’t feel the push i should be getting from them so im only running a 12.55 in the 100m open. i do leg weight training. So my question is how can i get a bigger push off of my blocks?


January 24, 2011 at 7:42 am
(14) Shu says:

Hi coach, i am 14 and i just recently started track and i was wondering how i could improve my time. my 200m is 25.00 and the split time was 12.1 and 12.9
my 400m is 56.52 and i want to run around 24.something and a 52. would doing some weights help?
also my 100m is about a late 11.9

May 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm
(15) B-Ten says:

Hey, I just wrapped up my junior track season and it was horrible compared to my sophomore. Sophomore year i went 53 and 24.5 in my 400 and 200, and then in indoor junior year I went 55.5 and 24.8, but during outdoor my PR’s were 53.9 and 24.2. I began lifting during indoor, but just didn’t enough time to lift as much during outdoor, and I think thats why my times suffered. I ultimately want to hit sub 50 and I’m too determined not to, so I was wondering if you had any good workout plans for summer(running and lifting) so i can reach that goal. Thanks So much!

November 25, 2012 at 1:40 am
(16) Sunny says:

Hi, I’m just wondering should weight training be avoided during an actual track season?

November 29, 2012 at 12:55 am
(17) weighttraining says:

I would avoid heavy strength training in-season, that is, low reps, heavy lifts. However, you could keep up some lighter, fast lifts in the ‘power’ category. Fast execution, lighter weights, rest between sets and reps. Use Olympic lift derivatives like power hang cleans, push-press, thrusters etc. Even so, don’t do gym 2-3 days before a race. You want those legs to be absolutely rested and ready. (As a former masters sprinter!)

December 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm
(18) JoeL says:

It sounds like I should dismantle my track program. I have 13 seniors who have trained since July for this upcoming season. We have average speed in the intermidate sprints and longer events, but we keep coming in second by small fractions of time in shorter quicker events. Our crosstown rivals always seem to be a step faster every year. A coach is suppose to be coming over to work with our sprinters but this article seems like he should stay home. We do not have enough natural talent. Maybe we should get more kids to come to our school from the otherside of the city .It does not appear any training can increase our speed.

December 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm
(19) joel says:

I know a 17 year old that is lifting very heavy upper body 10 weeks before track season. he plans to work legs the last 4 weeks, but with light weights fast quick reps. Will his upper body strength hurt his technique and make it impossible to run fast.

PS. my handle is now Earhquake

December 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm
(20) Earthquake says:

Will lifting heavy upperbody only hurt a sprinter 10 weeks before the beginning of track season.

December 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm
(21) Paul Rogers says:

Earthquake, 10 weeks before season is okay. Upper body work can be tiring, though, even when legs are not involved. Taper well leading up to competition.

December 12, 2012 at 2:40 am
(22) pedronz says:

I am 23 years old and i am so passionate about sports in general, both watching and participating.i was never really talented enough but my passion drove me to work so hard to improve, i managed to get in athletics team for my highschool in my last year.tho i never won,i enjoyed participating.Now im in university and i managed to play soccer and worked so hard to improve myself i played as a winger or at times as a second striker. sadly i dislocated my patella and scans revealed i have a unstable knee due to hypermobility of the knee joint. now i wish to move to non contact sport and return to athletics. either sprint or decathlon.my hope is to one day qualify for olympics for my country (im from Africa but studying in another continent) is it too late for me to start having a serious go at this?

October 23, 2013 at 11:45 am
(23) Skinny says:

Hi Coach, i am a 100m and 200m sprinter with time 10.92, 22.14 respectively… I am 19 years old. Will it be possible fr me to run a sub 10 before the next olympic games… And what should i do to achieve that?

November 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm
(24) weighttraining says:

Skinny, get a good sprint coach and strength and conditioning trainer, train hard on the track and hope for the best. Good luck.

January 9, 2014 at 11:55 pm
(25) Dada says:

Hi I’m a female sprinter, I’m new to track last year I pr an 11.72 in 100m and 24.44 in 200m I am a 11.85 average sprinter due to times I never weight train so I was wondering if it will help and what workouts should I do in the gym. I am 17 years old and have 1 season left of high school track.

January 16, 2014 at 5:14 pm
(26) weighttraining says:

Hello Dada. sounds like you have potential. If your school has a gym and coach, I would ask him or her. If not, you could try this basic beginner program at a private gym.

April 4, 2014 at 9:04 am
(27) john lee says:

Hi coach. Im a international student from korea. My pr from last yr was 14.14, and I got 13.92 from our first meet this year. I want to get 13.0 this year. We have a coach for our school, so I kinda what to practice on the field but not a weight lifting. I only doing squats, bench press, and lunges. Any suggestion that I should do? Thanks coach!

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