If you’ve ever looked at the lineup of 100-meter sprinters during the Olympics or a high-level college meet, it looks as if any one of them could step on stage at a physique contest and notch a top placing. Elite sprinters have strong, capped delts, thick, striated arms and unbelievably well-defined abs, this in addition to their crazy quads and glutes. These guys don’t just run fast – they train for full-body power and strength, which helps them build lean, densely-muscled bodies.

Elite sprinters typically have very detailed training programs that involve a multitude of key lifts done for targeted percentages and low reps. But since you likely don’t ever need to break 10 seconds over 100 meters, you can just make some simple tweaks to your own training to start reaping some of the benefits of sprinter training. All you have to do is dedicate two days per week to your own program, which likely already involves (at least) 3-4 workouts per week. If you’re training more often, then simply insert these workouts into your split so that you’re training no more than five times per week in order to recover properly.

Incorporating these basic sprinter themes won’t get you to the starting blocks in 2016 but it will help you look like you should be there.

Power Hang 1

Strength Day. Elite sprinters are strong. Crazy strong. Many can hold their own with Olympic-level weightlifters because they focus on lifting heavy weight for low reps, as quickly as possible. This quick demonstration of power provides that out-of-the-blocks explosiveness it takes to shave hundredths of seconds off their best times over the course of a season. 

Exercise Sets Reps 
Power Clean 5 5
Barbell Squat 5 3
Romanian Deadlift 5 6-8
Walking Lunge      4       30 meters

You’ll train the power clean first, when you’re fresh. For each five-rep set, you’ll use a weight that you can handle for about eight reps. The goal isn’t muscular failure – it’s picture perfect form on each violent but technically perfect rep. From there, you’ll move to the barbell squat, which emphasizes the glutes – critical for sprinters’ stride – while also strengthening the quads. The Romanian deadlift hits what is perhaps the most important muscle group for sprinters: the hamstrings. The RDL works the hamstrings from origin to insertion, improving sprint acceleration and deceleration and fortifying you against injury. Walking lunges are a strong, functional finisher that have tremendous carryover for nearly every athletic activity. Research shows that they are ideal for improving hamstring strength.


Speed Day. If you’re not a sprinter, chances are you are not a fan of running. Some of you out there no doubt have limitations that keep you from making running a bigger part of your program. The good news is that you don’t have to run timed, 200-meter intervals to get some of that sprinter aesthetic that you’re looking for. If you’re an M&F reader, chances are you’re already a fan of high-intensity intervals for cardio. HIIT preserves (or builds) muscle while burning more fat than steady-state cardio alone. By adopting a dedicated interval sprint day, you can create that uptick in fat-burning without sacrificing any of the muscle you’ve worked on building. All you’ll need is a GymBoss (www.gymboss.com or free in the app store) or a stopwatch, some room to run and 17 minutes.

Activity                                              Time

Sprint                                                 15 sec.

Walk                                                   45 sec.

–Repeat 15 times. Does not include a one-minute slow jog to warm-up or one-minute cooldown.

Perform a brief but thorough dynamic warm-up that gets blood flowing to all major muscle groups. You should have a light sweat and your legs, in particular, should be slightly pre-fatigued from a mix of bodyweight squats, skips, butt-kickers and jumping jacks. From there, you’ll stride into a light one-minute jog for a little specific warm-up. Then, it’s time to hit the gas. With each sprint, you should aim to reach your top speed as quickly as possible. At the end of each 15-second sprint, slow yourself gradually and walk for 45 seconds. By sprinting for 15 seconds, you allow yourself to take full advantage of phosphagen, the main source of fuel for brief, all-out activity, which has a shelf life of about 15-25 seconds. This sprint routine increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), helping you to burn more calories for the 24-72 hours that follow the workout. But this also helps you focus on something you probably haven’t in some time: getting faster. And you’ll be surprised at how your body responds when you make sprints a regular part of your routine.

Sprint Tips:

Whenever you think you have maxed out on your sprint, you will often find that you have “another gear.” Dig deep and run as fast as possible for the duration of the sprint.

If you run in the same place each week, make mental notes of your workout and strive to cover more ground in less time with each sprint.

Be active with your arms. Keep your arms bent at 90-degree angles, being careful not to cross your body with them as this will cause your torso to rotate, which bleeds speed. Keep them swinging hard but only forward and backward motion.

Speed is a product of stride length and frequency. Try to extend your stride out as far as you comfortably can while maintaining top speed.

Keep your abs tight but don’t flex them. This balancing act helps to stabilize your hips as you run, allowing your legs to move more efficiently. A slightly-braced midsection helps you maintain a strong running posture.