Improve Your Strength for Track & Field Success

Strength training is a critical tool to enhance performance in track & field. STACK Expert John Cissik provides a program.

Strength training for track & field can be a critical tool to enhance performance. Track & field encompasses a wide variety of movement skills. Regardless of the event you compete in, there are several fundamental principles for strength training in relation to track & field.

Strength is critical to success

Running, jumping, throwing and even walking quickly all require strength. Strength is the foundational ability for track & field success, and it needs to be trained at least once a week year round. The amount of strength you need varies by event. Shot putters need more strength than 800-meter runners.

Exert force against the ground

All track & field events use the legs to exert force against the ground. Any strength training program needs to be focused around exercises that require you to exert force against the ground. Squats, Lunges, Deadlifts and the Olympic lifts should be the backbone of your training program.

Learn to use strength

Not only do you have to be strong, you also need to know how to use your strength quickly. Regardless of your event, the ability to express strength quickly is critical to track & field success. This means plyometrics, Medicine Ball Throws, and variations of Olympic lifts should be incorporated into your program.

Exert force horizontally

Most track & field events have a horizontal component. In other words, the athlete is moving somewhere. Track & field athletes don't stand in a stationary position, so they must train themselves to exert force in a horizontal direction. Traditional strength training often does this poorly. Use plyometrics, Kettlebell Swings and Medicine Ball Throws to bolster your program.

Don't neglect your hamstrings

If an athlete sprints, walks or jogs, he or she is subject to hamstring injuries. A lot of these injuries occur as a result of an eccentric, or lengthening, contraction of the hamstrings. Strength training can prevent these injuries by training the hamstrings to become stronger in the lengthened position. To do this, avoid Leg Curls and focus on exercises like Good Mornings and Romanian Deadlifts.

Sample Workouts

Below is a week's worth of sample workouts for a track & field athlete, which address all of the above points. Check out the video above to see how the Texas A&M's track & field team improves  their speed with the Hang Clean to Front Squat.


  • Back Squats: 3x4-8@70-80%
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3x4-8
  • Bench Press: 3x4-8@70-80%
  • Bent-Over Rows: 3x4-8
  • Military Press: 3x4-8


  • Power Snatch: 3x3-6@60-70%
  • Power Clean: 3x3-6@60-70%
  • Clean Pulls: 3x3-6@60-70%
  • Counter-movement Jumps: 10x
  • Standing Long Jumps: 10x


  • Kettlebell Swings: 3x5
  • Front Squats and Squat Jumps: 3x4-8@60-70% + 5 jumps
  • Lunges and Split Jumps: 3x12-15+5 jumps each leg
  • Good Mornings and Medicine Ball Throws Behind the Back: 3x12-15+5 throws
  • Reverse Hyperextensions: 3x12-15


  • Dumbbell Bench Press and Medicine Ball Chest Passes: 3x12-15+5 passes¬†
  • Pull-Ups and Medicine Ball Throws to the Front: 3xMax+5 throws
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3x12-15
  • Biceps/Triceps: 3x12-15 each

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: TRACK