This article is guest blogged by Jim Hiserman, author of the books Program Design Method for Sprints & Hurdle Training and Strength and Power for Maximum Speed
Jimson’s informative blog article on Sprint Workouts addressing Speed Training appropriate for the major competitive portion of the year was, as usual, a great resource for coaches and athletes competing this Summer.
But what about the thousands of High School and Collegiate sprinters in the U.S. who have finished the season and are ready to resume Summer Conditioning programs?
I know too many high school and college coaches who use only General Conditioning methods over the Summer for their sprinters and hurdlers. These General Conditioning methods do not include Speed (95% of Absolute Speed/Relative Intensity) or Sprint Specific Strength Exercises.
Research and coaching literature reviews suggest that Absolute Speed be present in varying amounts throughout the Training Year. Research has shown that as the speed of runs decreases, the biomechanics will also change. These changes are more dramatic than most coaches would imagine. The IOC Biomechanics Project at the 2008 Beijing Olympics pointed out significant differences between Usain Bolt’s biomechanics when comparing his Opening round 10.20 with his Final 9.58.
Indeed, research shows that in order for positive enhancement or maintenance of Absolute Speed, training throughout the year must include some sprint efforts of 95% or higher at least once per week. This is necessary to improve or maintain the timing of muscle firing patterns (which include both inter-muscular and intra-muscular coordination) similar to competition speed.
For more information explaining the importance of Absolute Speed in varying amounts throughout the year, coaches should access CLASSIFYING SPRINT TRAINING METHODS by British National Coaches Michael Khmel and Tony Lester.
Sample Exercises & Workouts
Just as important to the Neural Training that must be present in Speed Training during the Training Year is the application of the Specific Strength/Power exercises shown to be most important for Speed improvement and/or maintenance.
Squats, Pulls and Deadlifts address the very important Neural Training components vital to the increase of Maximum and Explosive Strength relative to Sprint Mechanics.
Variations of the Squat (Half squat, Quarter squat, Snatch Squat, etc.) and Clean (Clean Pull to Chest, Snatch Pull to Chest, etc.) and Deadlift (Clean Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift, etc.) should be vital components of Sprint Training on a year round basis (see Weightlifting in training for athletics-Part II, NSA Vol. 20, issue 2, pg. 38, IAAF 2005). Additional background information on Specific Strength/Power Training for Sprint/Hurdle Training can be found in Strength and Power for Maximum Speed
Because the intensity of these types of activities is high, the volume during the Summer is kept low. One day of Speed and one to two sessions involving one to two of the key Strength exercises is sufficient. Other general exercises, especially emphasizing Core /Postural Strength development, can be implemented along with Extensive Tempo runs emphasizing a progression of increasing total volume per session two sessions per week.
Basically, three track training sessions per week would involve one day of Speed with low volume/high intensity, one day of Extensive Tempo with longer reps (250-400 up to 600) and one day of Extensive Tempo with shorter reps (100,150,200).
For a complete explanation of Extensive Tempo and Speed workout guidelines, coaches can refer to either CLASSIFYING SPRINT TRAINING METHODS or Program Design Method for Sprints & Hurdle Training
About the Author
Jim Hiserman’s other published articles on this site include:
- A Total Sprint-Training Program for Maximum Strength & Power, Core Strength, and Maximum Sprint Speed (5 part series).
- A Sprint & Hurdles Program Design Overview
- Training for Development of Maximum Speed
- Basic and Advanced Technical Models, including Proper Execution of Key Drills
- Speed throughout the Training Year
- 400 Meter Training: Greater Strength = Faster Times (3 Part Series)
- 400 Meter Training- Blending Short-to-Long and Long-to-Short Methods – (2 Part Series)
- Speed Training: Developing a Sound Philosophy
- How to Improve Acceleration Part 4