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How to Train Like an Olympic Sprinter

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to train like a sprinter, then you are in the right place. In today’s post, I’m going to share with you an awesome workout program routine inspired by real life Olympic sprint training.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Olympic sprinter and have never trained to be one. This whole post is the result of my research and some serious digging into the current Olympic training programs available on the net.

So please be careful here. The workout program I’m sharing with you below is quite intense, and if you are not ready for it, you might be setting yourself for injury and burnout.

So you have been warned, buddy.

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Image Credit – Josell Mariano via Flickr

Sprinting is Awesome

Sprinting is one my favorite Olympic sports. In fact, pound for pound, sprinters are some of the strongest, and most ripped athletes on the planet.

Elite sprinters possess a high proportion of fast twitch muscle fibers; have sheer amounts of work capacity, exceptional reaction time and quick foot movement.

They are really the total package of power, strength, and speed.

Of course, most Olympians are blessed with physiological gifts, but natural talent is only one ingredient of their success. It’s also how they train and their commitment to their craft that really sets them apart from the rest.

And truth be told, most of us (you, me and everyone else) will never come close to running the speeds seen in the Olympics.

But that’s not the end of the world.

The thing is that you don’t need to become a full-time Olympic sprinter nor have a to run a sub 10 second 100m, to start reaping sprint training benefits. In fact, it’s not that hard to start Olympic inspired sprint training. All you need is the right attitude, the right workouts for the job, and a bit of open space.

How to Train Like an Olympic Sprinter

The sprinter training program I’m sharing with you below will help you get into the best shape of your life while boosting your anaerobic work capacity.

With this training program, you will be able to run faster, build muscle, boost your explosiveness and agility, helping you improve your athletic performance and become more competitive in your chosen sport—whether it’s running, basketball, tennis, biking, you name it.

So you are ready? Then here we go…

What’s Olympic training all about?

Training like an Olympic sprinter will require working on many facets of your fitness, including your strength, speed, power, and explosiveness.

In other words, you will have to become a total package kind of an athlete.

As a general guideline, most sprint training exercises are designed to target these fast twitch fibers, performing explosive exercises and short sprints instead of steady-state long distance running and cardio training.

In The Gym

As you already know, sprinting is an explosive anaerobic sport per excellence. But to get good at it, you will also need to work on strengthening key sprinting muscles and doing polymeric training to boost your explosiveness.

Try to do at least two to three strength sessions per week. Aim for three sets of 8 to 12 reps with each exercise, pushing your max on each move and reaching muscle failure in the last few reps.

Without further ado, here are some of the exercises you need to be doing.

Other exercises include barbell squats, front squat, sumo deadlift, chin-ups, dips, hanging knee raises, jump squat, jump rope, and sled drags.

Power Clean

Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart with a barbell positioned under your shins.

Next, while keeping your back straight and engaging your core, squat down and grab the barbell with an overhand grip a bit wider than shoulder width.

Please make sure to keep your chest out, shoulder back, and head up the entire time.

Next, while keeping the bar as close to your body as possible, push your knees back, lift your chest up, then start to slowly raise the barbell from the ground to roughly above your knees.

As soon as the bar passes your knees, explosively stand up by first rising up on tiptoes, pulling the bar up higher (leading with the elbows). Then, once the weight reaches your sternum level, assume a mini-squat position, drop your body under the barbell, flipping your wrists over so that your palms are facing the ceiling, and stand up tall with your upper arms parallel to the ground.

Last up, to lower the bar down, slightly bend your knees then lower the bar to thigh position. Then slowly lower it to the floor, while keeping the core engaged and back straight the entire time.

Single Leg Squats

While balancing on your right foot while extending the left straight in front as high as possible with arms extended out, squat down by bending at the knee and sitting your hips back. Imagine you are going to sit in a chair behind you.

Once you reach at least a 100-degree angle in your right knee, extend your leg back to standing position, repeat for 8 to 10 reps, then switch sides.

If the single leg squat is too challenging, then perform the chair assist or the TRX version. For more challenge, rest a dumbbell on your chest.

Please make sure to keep your back flat and the right knee pointing in the same direction as the right foot.

Perform 8 to 12 reps, then switch sides to complete one set.

Romanian Deadlift

Start by holding a loaded barbell at hip level with a pronated grip—with the palms facing down. Please keep your knees slightly bent, hips high and shoulder on top of the barbell.

Next, lower the barbell by moving your butt back and bending your hips as far as you can while keeping the core engaged and back straight throughout the motion.

Please make sure to keep the barbell as close to your body as possible, with shoulders back and head looking forward the entire time.

Once you reach the bottom of your range of motion (you will be feeling a good stretch in the hamstrings if you are doing it right), slowly return to the starting position then stand up tall, and repeat for the desired reps.

Plyometric Lunges

Begin by assuming an athletic position, then lunge forward with your right leg.

Next, while keeping the torso straight and core engaged, jump up as high as possible, and switch your leg position in midair, landing with your left leg in a forward lunge. Then, powerfully jump up and switch legs to land back in a lunge with the left leg out in front.

Keep jump lunging, alternating sides for 45-second to one minute.

Bench Press

Start by laying on your back on a flat bench.

Next, grab the bar with overhand grip, lift it off the rack, and hold it above your chest with arms fully extended and core engaged. This is your starting position.

Next, slowly lower the bar straight down in a controlled and slow motion until it touches the middle of your chest.

Hold for a moment, then press the barbell in a straight line back up to the starting position.

Please focus on using your chest muscles to move the bar throughout the exercise. No cheating allowed.

Perform 10 to 12 reps to complete one set, then move to the next exercise.

Box jumps

Stand with feet hip-width apart, at a comfortable distance from a 60cm high box or an elevated step (or sturdy object).

Next, assume a mini squat, then while engaging your core, extending your hips and swinging your arms, leap onto the box, landing softly on both feet.

Hold for a moment, then jump backward down to starting position and spring quickly back up.

On the Track

Dynamic warm up

To sprint safely, there are few precautions you need to take in order to ensure that you are making the most out of your sessions without increasing the risk of injury or burnout.

You need to perform a thorough dynamic warm-up routine to increase blood flow, heart rate, and body temperature.

Yes, warming up is that important if you are serious about warding off injury and sprinting your best. In fact, the harder you run, the more time you need to devote to warming up.

As a result, here is how to proceed in your next sprint workout session.

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Image Credit – Robb Hammer via Flickr

The Warm-up – Estimated time: 15 to 20 minutes

Begin your sprint workout with a proper warm-up in what’s known as a dynamic movement circuit, which can take you up to 15 to 20 minutes to finish.

Here is how

Start off with a 10-minute easy jog, then perform 30 seconds to one minute of the following drills with little rest between each move. Doing these drills before your workout will ensure proper mechanics and prevent injury and lots of trouble.

Butt kickers

High knees

Ankling

Heel raises

A Skips

B Skips

Backward runs

Then and only then…you may proceed to the real sprint session.

Here is what you need to do next…

Short Strideouts

This is the first section of the sprinting workout and involves performing short sprints at 80 percent max effort with 90 seconds of recovery between each burst. Focus on developing maximum speed and proper form.

Here is how to proceed:

Sprint for 40 meters as fast as possible, then rest for 90 seconds.

Sprint for 50 meters as fast possible, then rest for 90 seconds.

Sprint for 60 meters as fast as possible to complete one set.

Rest for two to three minutes then perform four to five sets, pushing your body as hard you can.

Next, perform this closing routine.

Sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds.

Jog slowly for one minute allowing your heart rate to slow down and recovering fully before jumping into the next sprint.

Repeat the cycle 8 to 10 times.

Then end your workout with a thorough cool-down.

Proper form

Sprinting is a sport that requires high emphasis and focuses on the proper technique—well if you are serious about sprinting your best while avoiding injury and setbacks.

Here are a few pointers to help you develop and keep proper sprinting form:

Shoulders. Keep your shoulders relaxed, torso upright and core activated the entire time. And please never collapse because that’s a clear sign of bad form and you should avoid doing that at all time.

Arms. Make sure to engage your arms throughout the session, by keeping them bet at 90-degree angle and swinging them back and forth as hard as you can to create momentum.

Elbows. Make sure to keep your elbows flexed at a 90-degree angle and moving in a straight line. Focus on pumping your arms in coordination with the legs. Make sure to drive your elbows back to create momentum.

Feet. To create more forward momentum, make sure to focus on a powerful and quick push off from the toe while aiming for a quick and fast cadence.

Relax. And most importantly, make sure to keep your body relaxed the entire time. By doing so, you will reduce the amount of energy wasted from holding on to tension. Plus, it makes for a more enjoyable workout.

For more, watch the following 8-minute video:

Featured Image Credit – Josel Mariano via Flickr

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David Dack

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