If you’re looking to build sprint speed, why not consult with the best? Here, two Olympic sprinters share what their training is like, and which exercises and training methods they feel best transfer from the weight room to the track.
Muna Lee is a former LSU track & field athlete and gold medalist in the 4x100m relay at the 2005 World Championships, who competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
Maurice Mitchell competed for Florida State University, winning 13 ACC titles in the 60m (indoor), 100m and 200m before turning pro and running the 200m at the 2012 Olympics Games in London.
Muna Lee’s Sprint Training
Power Hang Cleans
The major benefit of any Clean variation (“power” indicates the catch position, not that the barbell started on the floor) comes from the explosive triple extension (hip, knee, ankle). This exercise helps you boost the horsepower your body can generate. Lee emphasizes bar speed and technique over the amount of weight on the bar.
Lee uses single-leg exercises such as Single-Leg RDLs and Split Squats, which train her body unilaterally to balance her out and minimize the strength differential between her legs.
Med Ball Wall Throws + Plank Variations
Lee notes that a big part of her core training revolves around the ability to “hold proper position and be explosive at the same time.” Some of her favorite exercises to accomplish this are various Medicine Ball Wall Throws and Planks. Wall Throws are great for building dynamic strength and explosive power in the various planes of movement, and Planks develop stability and endurance.
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Maurice Mitchell’s Sprint Training
Cleans + Box Jumps
Like Lee, Mitchell credits Clean variations with developing his Olympic-caliber sprint speed. He is also a big fan of Box Jumps, which also require triple extension but are more plyometric than Cleans on the speed-strength continuum—that is, they have a faster rate-of-force development than Cleans.
Mitchell says once he began performing Box Jumps at FSU, he was able to “put more force into the ground.”
Box Jumps also reinforce the development of hip mobility, since when done properly they require you to land in an “athletic position.” When an athlete has a great combination of explosive potential and hip mobility, he or she is capable of performing the 58-inch Seated Box Jump seen in the attached video. (Please note that due to the kinetic energy that the body absorbs on impact, we recommend that athletes do not jump off the box when performing these exercises unless specifically instructed to do so.)
A great exercise for building strength and explosive power throughout the entire body, the Deadlift works everything from the calves to grip strength. Like Squats, they can be used to strengthen the posterior chain and core and build bone density, but without a high degree of spinal pressure.
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