During my time in college at Iowa State, I was fortunate to work with two fellas who were only graduate assistants at the time, but they made a significant impact on my career. They are now both at much Power 5 schools because they are that good. They made an impact on my job because they challenged me in the weight room with challenging workouts for sprinters. As I started to get more serious about my lifting, I began to stay healthier, and I had more success on the track. Here are my personal favorites that I did throughout my career or that I have seen other sprinters have a lot of success with.
Best Weight Room Workouts for Sprinters #1
Razor Curls/Glute Ham Raises
These are key for sprinters to help prevent hamstring injuries. Using these to prevent injuries is especially true when you are not receiving a lot of treatment which is MOST sprinters. If you happened to be injured, download Kho before you move forward with these.
The razor cults are entirely a challenging exercise. If you find them too hard, a good start is using glute ham raises. Both will help to strengthen the hamstring as the muscle lengthens otherwise known as eccentric training.
Once you can comfortably do the glute ham raises for set and reps with some weight, you can move on to doing the razor curls.
The purpose of doing these is to build strong, sturdy hamstrings. The hamstrings are rarely hurt during the recovery phase of sprinting. Which is when your hamstring is behind your body, your knee is flexing as your ankle goes toward your butt. This phase is relatively easy on your hamstrings because there is no real resistance.
Where the problems start is when you hamstring is switching from an eccentric to an isometric contraction which is right when your foot hits the ground. At this point, your foot does have resistance from trying to slow down your lower leg then and the ground.
The razor curls help you with the part of the sprinting that causes the most injuries. The first movement where you bend at the waist imitates having your hip flexed and the beginning of the eccentric contraction. The second move, where you slowly straighten your legs out represents the eccentric part of sprinting. Holding it at the end with your legs straight represents the isometric portion.
- Healthy Hamstrings
- Less missed training sessions
Best Weight Room Workouts for Sprinters #2
Glute Barbell Bridge
The glute barbell bridge may have just been the exercise that saved me from all of the back injuries I was having. The glute bridge is an exercise that always looks dangerous, but it is much safer than say a back squat. A fail glute bridge means you just lie on the ground and you can’t get your hips up. The benefits of this exercise on your sprinting is enormous.
The first step to doing a glute bridge is to do one lying on the ground with no weight. Once you can do this and most people can do this pretty quickly, you can move on to step two.
The next stage of the glute bridge is to add a barbell so you can add more weight. You are going to want to put a towel or something soft around the bar where your hips come in contact with the bar. The key is to drive your hips up as fast as possible.
Stage three of difficulty is to put your back up on a bench instead of lying flat on the ground. The elevation of your end will allow for more range of motion when you do.
The glutes are one of the leading muscle groups that help you to propel you forward when sprinting. If your glutes are weak, you will not reach your full potential, and you will be at a higher risk of injury. You do not want either of these things to happen.
The glute bridge will work help you to achieve powerful glutes, and strong glutes take the pressure of your hamstrings and lower back. There are no cons to the glute bridge for speed athletes looking to get faster
- Strong glutes
- Strong lower back
- Less back and hamstring injury
- Higher potential for speed
Best Weight Room Workouts for Sprinters #3
Sand Bag PushUps
The lone upper body push of the bunch is an excellent alternative for our bench press obsessed world. I don’t have a problem with bench press, but I think sandbag pushups can keep training fun. The reason I loved doing these is that they made me feel like a beast. To have a 100-pound sandbag on my back plus a 20-pound chain, and do ten push-ups is an awesome feeling. I also think like push-ups with arms in tight keep the hands closer to the body like you are when you sprint, so this feels more natural.
The progressions for these push-ups start with just doing your basic bodyweight pushups. Then it moves to adding weight on the back. This weight can come from plates, but sandbags work better here. You need a partner to help you load the weight on and off. The last step is throwing chains over the sandbags for added weight since you can put sandbags on top of each other on your back.
As a sprinter, you still need to have the upper body strength to counterbalance all of the lower body force you produce. Pushups with your arms close to your body will mainly work your chest, front delts, and your triceps. The goal should always be to move the weight as fast as you can.
- Strong upper body
- A change from the bench press
- The challenge of getting off of the ground
Best Weight Room Workouts for Sprinters #4
When you sprint, you do it from one leg at a time. These squats are great for building that strength one leg at a time. I like the Bulgarian squat over the single leg squat because you can still go heavy. Oddly the Bulgarian squat is one of the only weight room that was so hard it made me throw up. My coach made me grab a weighted vest and hold a 100-pound sandbag it chest level in front of me. It was brutal.
The progressions start with just a bodyweight squat. It can be challenging to do these with only body weight, so there is no shame in staying here for a while. The second stage is adding lousy ball that sits on your back or holding dumbells. The third progression is adding weighted vests, and carrying a massive sandbag to your chest.
The Bulgarian squats are a single leg lift; you work a lot of muscles doing these because your body is first looking to stabilize itself. From your ankle all the way to your groin, small muscles are helping to keep you still. The exercise all so puts you in an optimal position when you are at the bottom of the squat. You tear up your butt and quads when you do these
- Strong legs
- Single leg strength
- Strong stabilizers
Best Weight Room Workouts for Sprinters #5
Clean Pull From Box
I love these for working on acceleration. The clean pull of the box is useful because you are starting from a static position like when you are in the blocks or getting ready to run a 40. You need to explode from static position quickly to get the bar up.
You want to work your way through the sequences of learning Olympic lifts. This exercise is a pretty advanced one, so you want to make sure you know what you’re doing. The first step would be to start with deadlift to get used to gripping the bar, pushing through the floor and pulling the bar up. The second stage would be doing a hang pull where you get to use some stretch reflex to help get the bar up. The last step would be the clean pull of the boxes.
The purpose of these lifts is to work on going from being still, to being explosive as quickly as possible. When you are in the blocks, and you hear the gun go, the goal is to get your body moving toward the finish line as quickly as possible. Your body has to overcome inertia.
When you are doing hang cleans you get to rely on momentum quite a bit. Clean pulls from a box do not allow for this luxury. Everything comes from the explosion of your hips moving forward. That is the same explosion you need to start running fast.
What you need to do from here is evaluate what you are currently doing and evaluate your current weak points. Once you know where you are weak, you can see gaps and start to fill those areas.
Best Workouts for Sprinters
- Back issues = Add in Glute Bridge
- Problems with Acceleration = Add in Clean Pull from Box
- Issues with lower body strength = Add Bulgarian Squat
- Tired of Bench Press = Add Sandbag Push Ups
- Hamstring Issues =Add razor curls
Find the areas where you want to get the benefits listed above and work these exercises into your program. You have to take responsibility for your training and own your career. Only settle for the best workouts for sprinters and nothing less.
If You Are Having Hamstring Issues Check Out The Following Exercises: