How to Improve Acceleration Part 6: Weight Training Examples

This is Part 6 of a multi-part series.  Part 1, which discussed hip mechanics, can be found here.  Part 2 discussed several types of Resistance Running.  Part 3 and 4 discusses The Role of Strength and Power Training in Part 3 and examples in Part 4, both written by Jim Hiserman.  Part 5 discussed a 10 week progressive Plyometric plan based on Dr. Don Chu.

Let’s start with a confession. 

I really hate to give copy/paste weight room workouts for sprinters.

Why?  A beginner athlete’s weight training requirements are different than an Elite athlete with 8-10 years of “training age” under his belt.  I feel for a beginner track athlete, the 1st year and/or 2nd year should be a general strength training program. 

Then every year (or two) you have to start adding and removing some exercises.  I try to keep the entire weight session under 1 hour, or better yet, 45 minutes.  As the athlete gets stronger, the requirements change over time.  Since I don’t like to change mid season, September (or October) is when I start with a new program.

Other than that, I only have (at least) 2 house rules for my track athletes (power lifters and body builders are another ball game):

  1. No lifts to failure (no non-functional hypertrophy).
  2. No 1RM (one rep max), only doubles or triples (2 or 3 rep) sets, at 85-95% of 1RM (see calculator).

Since my group trains hard 3 days a week, we only hit the weight room 3 days a week, AFTER the running session.  John Smith of HIS and Clyde Hart of Baylor prefers weight training 2 hours BEFORE track practice, but I don’t prefer it that way.

3 Days a Week

You have 3 main exercises performed twice a week, which I label A, B, and C where:

  1. Monday  = A + B
  2. Wednesday = B + C
  3. Friday = A + C
  4. Ancillary exercise EVERY session (i.e. reverse hypers and Glute Ham raises)
  5. Abs and core EVERY session  (read articles from the core category here)

Everyone is different in their needs.  Even the training age matters. Year by year, it should change with the proper help from a S&C coach.  I am lucky to have Derek Hansen and Al Vermeil as my “go to” guys when it comes to S&C.  Remember it’s all about gaining functional strength and power without the added muscle mass.

Weight Training Exercises to Improve Acceleration

Here are some of my favorite exercises to improve acceleration:

  1. Deadlift and variants such as RDL
  2. Power Clean and variants such as hang cleans
  3. Bench Press (for the ego trip)
  4. Regular 2 legged Squats
  5. Bulgarian Squat (made famous by Valery Borzov), regular, with a weight, with an explosive jump up, or both 
  6. (ancillary) Reverse Hypers (and regular hyperextensions for lower back)
  7. (ancillary) Glute Ham raises (instead of traditional hamstring curls)

If you need more information on increasing your Bench Press, Squats, or Deadlift, check out Andy Bolton’s Explosive program.

Monthly Structure

You perform these every 3 weeks, with the 4th week being an easier week or testing week.  But never test 1RM, only doubles or triples.

  1. Month 1 – A=Power Cleans, B= Regular Squats,  C=Bench,
  2. Month 2 – A=Dead Lifts, B=Borzov or Bulgarian Squat , C=Box Push Ups (see speed strength)
  3. Month 3 – mix it around with variations,
  4. Month 4 – easy week, testing week

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • Jimson, I like your selection of exercises, one that i have added that has helped me and many of my athletes are walking weighted lunges. 3 x 30m weighted, they hate the 1st session but love the results.

  • Love me some Bulgarian squats…I quit my gym membership so I no longer have barbell access, but I DO have a pair of those fancy bowflex dial-change dumbbells that go to 90 lbs. each. So I can’t squat nearly as much as I used to, but I can do bulgarian splits with a heavy weight in each hand.