Last Updated on July 10, 2014 by Amir Rehman
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
great article as usual!
for strength training i think the lunge and its many variations should be a major part of the program.
i read somewhere that the great MJ did lunges and almost no power/oly lifts.
the lunge can be loaded in all sorts of creative ways-barbell overhead in overhead squat/snatch position, bar on back, DBs in hands etc.
any other lunge variations people use??
@steve: I do bulgarian split squats, which is kind of like a lunge…those are with one foot forward and the back foot on a bench.
What kind of volume/number of reps are we looking at for the tempo days in both the longer and shorter rep cases?
Jim, I was wondering what you thought about HS sprinters doing 95%+ sprints on their own, when you as the coach assume their form will not be very good. Would you still have them do the sprints? or would you have them do something different? And if so what would that be?
Jim Hiserman says
Single Leg Squats (Bulgarian Split Squats) can be one of the Squat Exercises is done in the right manner and with proper loads. Believe it or not, Clean Deadlifts actually address the Neural factors needed for strengthening the hamstring/glute specific to Sprinting and Jumping. You need to keep in mind that the exercises used need to address the entire range of the the Force/Velocity Curve AND be specific to Sprint Movement Patterns. Many speeds/loads need to be used in a variety of exercises. Read Strength and Power in Sport (IOC Published)edited by Komi; Chapter 18.
As for doing 95% sprint efforts without a coach….Why not? If the athletes are coming off a full season of sprint technique at high speeds (which should be the case), then one day of flying 30’s or INS/OUTS or 20-30m sprints from 3 pt. starts won’t cause a regression. If they are taught right and enforced in the Spring, not doing them in the Summer will only cause a regression. Movement patterns at high speeds need to be rehearsed regularly. Proper coaching in the Spring is the key. I have kids doing this now without me and I know they have the proper Task Specific Cues to focus on so that their efforts will be at least as good as during the season.
Tempo volume is dependent on the level of the sprinter and the type of sprinter. Kids who are more 100 than 200-400 will benefit more from more short tempo but less overall volume than the 400 types. Again, there are 3-4 types of 400 and 100 types so a range of 1200m-1800m to start might be good. Depends on where you had them at the end of the Season. Progressions up to 2400-3,000m would not be over doing it for SOME kids. As a coach, you would know what volumes are best for each athlete.
Jimson Lee says
I prefer to give flying 20s or 30s in the form of easy-hard-easy or hard-easy-hard, instead of giving technical block work. It’s a better workout, and it leaves the athletes feeling like they did something. Also, you minimize the risk the CNS overload by doing too many block starts or 3 point starts. If you really wanted to do block work or acceleration development, then getting an acceleration ladder (or any form of measureable metrics) can be helpful.
Eric Broadbent says
I think doing flying 20’s and 30’s is way more taxing on the nervous system than doing acceleration work assuming proper volume is used. Plus if this is summer training I personally wouldn’t want to start with flys before having developed proper acceleration, I would want to progress to flys after establishing their accel first.
Jimson Lee says
@Eric, True, flying 30s are more taxing, but I can guarantee the athletes don’t try to do more than what I prescribe. If I say 3 x 4 x 30m with blocks, chances are, they might do more because “they feel good” or “it wasn’t a complete workout”. I would only give flying 30’s after I had a full season or 2 in the fall where we do acceleration development all year round. Like all workouts, it’s a case by case basis.
brandon morton says
Great write Jim
I think most coaches and kids are just mixed up when it comes to summer training. I’ve always told my kids the only time they can improve upon the max performance that their body can put out is during the off season. When September gets here only thing I can do is get you to that max. You can’t get faster by jogging miles and like you said if you want to kill your posture then jogging will definitely do that for you.
Its great to do sprint work and heavy weight over the summer or if your max strength level are pretty high, I will have them continue to improve by giving them a regiment designed to increase power output (olympic lifts and faster, lighter lifts). The tricky part to me is making sure you give them enough rest because this is the offseason and once you get to a certain level rest is just as important as working out.
Guys check out my blog at controlledspeeddevelopment.blogspot.com
Hopefully I can shed some of my knowledge, its just getting started so be patient with me. lol
Hopefully I can do half as good a job as guys like Jim.