Workout Tips

The Complete Bodybuilder's Sprinting Guide

Make sure you're on the mark when it comes to this aggressive cardio.

Sprinter Workout

On the web, some articles boast solid yet somewhat unrealistic workouts in an attempt to promote fat loss and developing the posterior chain. The problem is that if you’re not able to move well, you’re already losing half the benefits right off the mark. You're also risking injury.

As a former university level sprinter and long jumper, I’d like to think I know a thing or two about sprinting technique, especially when recommending it to a population that's comprised of non-track athletes. Instead of diving into exercises that help make you more explosive, lets stick with the theme -- technique with sprinting workout cues. 

For starters, do yourself a favor and avoid what’s probably the biggest sprinting mistake in the game.

Stop Running Balls-to-the-Wall

It’s a refined gauge to familiarize yourself with, but once you gain experience practicing sprints, you’ll be able to feel how fast you’re going, relative to your max effort. Treat sprinting like weight lifting. Although you know you have a tangible one-rep max, intuition and common sense will let you know if you could have squeezed out an extra rep with 80 or 90 percent of your max. Your body will tell you when there's 'juice left in the tank,' and what feels comfortable and what doesn't. If you need an idea of what percentages of your max speed should feel like, look no further.

Your Speed and Feeling Guide

60 Percent of Max Speed

  • I refer to this as a sprint-jog. This speed should bring on a relaxed, but brisk jog.

70 Percent of Max Speed

  • Faster than a sprint jog, this is a slow sprint. It should be evident to anyone watching that you’re no longer running for distance. Think of the run you’d break into to catch a bus leaving the station on your way to work.

80 Percent of Max Speed

  • This is where your technique and speed starts to become a major factor. You should really be moving at this point, but without any tension. You should notice yourself slightly exhausted at the end of a 100 meter dash with 80 percent speed.

85 Percent of Max Speed

  • Your strides should open up at this speed, and you should have a considerable knee lift. This will appear to anyone watching to be a full-on, relaxed sprint. Your time for any distance shouldn’t be much slower than your max efforts. For example, my 100 meter best time was 10.9 seconds – an 85 percent effort would clock me an 11.5 seconds.

90 Percent of Max Speed

  • You should be putting plenty of effort into your start at this intensity, and transitioning into a smooth, relaxed sprint that requires no effort whatsoever. Your legs in your full stride phase should feel like a wheel rolling smoothly along.

95 Percent of Max Speed

  • This is what I liked to call the "practice max effort." Nine times out of 10, we wouldn’t run faster than this in any given training workout. Exert full force, but remember to stay relaxed, and avoid tension. Run knowing that you still have one more gear to shift into -- your balls-to-the-wall max. For those reading this, I would recommend making this your max also.

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