Rev Up Your Sprint Training With These Complexes

STACK Expert Lee Ness offers three exercise complexes designed to help you become a better sprinter.

There is a science to strength development in sprint training, and the better you understand it, the better sprinter you'll be.

First, let's take a look at what you're trying to do in training.

1. Increase force production

How? By increasing the functional strength of your muscles without gaining unnecessary body weight. This requires weight training.

2. Increase power output

When sprinting, this means reducing ground contact time. For an elite sprinter, ground contact time is around 0.10 seconds. This is traditionally trained using plyometric exercises. Power is calculated by work divided by time. So for a given workload (the force produced), power will increase as the time to deliver it decreases.

3. Increase neurological recruitment of muscle fibers

You want to deliver the power in the shortest possible time, targeting those fast-twitch muscle fibers.

The following complex sets develop these attributes simultaneously.

WATCH: STACK Fitness Weekly: Interval Sprint Training

Squats/Drop Jumps

Squats: The Squat is a great exercise to increase quad and glute muscle size.

Drop Jumps: This exercise involves dropping from a platform (approximately 30 cm), then upon contacting the ground, immediately jumping up. The drop down pre-loads the muscle eccentrically, and the jump provides the concentric contraction. Legs should be stiff, knee and hip flexion should be minimal, ground contact should be as short as possible and the jump should be as high as possible.

The Complex Set

  • 2 sets completed with 5 minutes recovery.
  • 4 reps of Squats at 8-rep max weight, followed immediately by 6 Drop Jumps.

Variations and progression: Squat progression should be affected by weight, not repetitions, to avoid sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Drop Jump progression can be affected by changing the drop height up to maximum of 100 cm. Drop Jumps are high-impact, and higher platforms could cause injury.

Bench Press/Plyo Push-Ups

Bench Press: Upper-body power and speed are important factors in sprint performance. The Bench Press has good general transference to sprint actions.

Plyometric Push-Up: This is a regular Push-Up with an explosive second phase. You lower your body under control until your chest is close to the floor. The drive back up to starting position is explosive and your hands leave the floor.

The Complex Set

  • 2 sets with 5 minutes recovery.
  • 4 reps of Bench Press at 8-rep max weight, followed immediately by 6 Plyometric Push-Ups.

Variations and progression: Bench Press progression should be affected by weight, not repetitions, to avoid sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Plyometric Push-Up progression can be affected by increasing the height of the explosive drive, clapping your hands, clapping your hands behind your back, or both for extremely advanced progressions.

RELATED: Learn to Sprint Faster Without Actually Running

Lunges/Speed Bounds

Barbell Lunge: A regular lunge under control with a weighted barbell across the shoulders.

Speed Bounds: This involves taking oversized strides of the sprinting action. The aim is to increase air time between bounds, hang in the air at full extension and drive your foot into the ground with high force to the achieve the next bound.

The Complex Set

  • 2 sets with 5 minutes recovery.
  • 4 reps each leg of Barbell Lunge at 8-rep max weight, followed immediately by 10 Speed Bounds (5 each leg).

Variations and progression: Barbell Lunge progression can be affected by weight, not repetitions, to avoid sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Speed Bound progression can be affected by increasing air time, length of bound or repetitions—or by introducing resistance such as with a weighted vest.

When you combine functional strength training with plyometric training in one complex set, the result is greater than the sum of its parts.

Note: The plyometric exercises described here are advanced. They should be performed only by athletes who are physically prepared. Quality of the exercise is crucial, and speed is very important in the plyometric exercises to achieve maximum effect.

RELATED: 3 Best Plyometric Exercises for Speed


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: BENCH PRESS | POWER | EXERCISE | BENCH | PRESS | RECOVERY | SPRINT | BARBELL | SPRINTER | SPRINT TRAINING