As a sprinter, setting yourself apart from your competition can be difficult. Weight training is one of the best ways to get faster, especially during the off-season. You can become a faster and more explosive sprinter by taking advantage of the extra time available, allowing you to start the upcoming season stronger than everyone else in the starting blocks.
Is Weight Training Worth the Time and Effort?
While it can be time-consuming, weight training can be the key to unlocking your true sprinting potential. By strengthening the muscle groups utilized for sprinting, you will become not only a faster sprinter but also help lessen the chances of getting injured. The injury reduction alone is worth it, especially if you are a runner constantly dealing with injuries.
Fitting at least a couple of weekly gym sessions can be daunting, depending on your current training schedule. Most runners will likely have to run a bit less weekly to have the time to spend in the gym. This is where off-season workouts can help to set you apart. You can use that time to get stronger if you're not running. While others rest and lose fitness over the winter, you can become faster and stronger.
The Best Exercises
While most lower-body exercises will increase a sprinter's strength, some have more benefits than others. The best exercises for developing explosive power and speed are squats, deadlifts, lunges, box jumps, and leg presses. These exercises all target the lower body, while some target multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
Secondary exercises that target the core are also worth investing time in, including planks and Russian twists. The core is an essential group of muscles utilized in running that can easily be overlooked and undertrained.
Squats are among the most important lower-body exercises, requiring several lower and upper-body muscles to work together simultaneously. When done correctly, squats target the glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors, hip flexors, calves, and the upper body's core muscles. Squats can also be modified with either weight or positioning to target specific areas. Squats offer the best bang for the buck if you only have time to add one exercise to your workout routine.
Deadlifts are a relatively simple exercise, yet they are imperative for achieving strong hips, thighs, and back musculature. They help you become a faster sprinter by strengthening the muscles that push you forward as you run. Deadlifts are generally done with a barbell but can also be done with dumbbells or kettlebells.
Lunges are a functional exercise essential for sprinters, as they strengthen nearly every muscle in the lower body with each repetition. They also help engage your core and work on balance at the same time. Unilateral movements, such as lunges, can be more effective than regular squats and deadlifts when trying to get faster.
In terms of simplicity, box jumps are about as basic as an exercise can get. However, these plyometric exercises can help you build explosive power in your lower body. Each rep helps to strengthen your quads, calves, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as help to improve balance. Box jumps are also relatively easy on your lower joints, as you jump up to a higher platform and then step back down before repeating.
Leg presses are a staple in the gym and should be included in any sprinter’s workout routine. They help to increase lower body strength, giving you more power out of the blocks and with each stride. Leg presses also help improve your deadlift and squats, as they isolate the leg muscles used for the other exercises but don’t require the same core strength or balance.
Other Essential Exercises
The following exercises focus on core strength, which many runners often overlook when building a workout plan. A strong core is essential to a strong running stride, so don’t neglect it!
Planks are one of the best bodyweight exercises for increasing core strength. They help strengthen the core and work the glutes and quads. Planks can be added to any workout routine or done by themselves throughout the day.
Russian twists are another essential exercise for developing core strength and stability. They are often modified with weights and positioning to increase their benefits further.
The off-season is the best time to get a head start on the competition, not just in the gym but also in getting ready for the upcoming season. Being prepared also includes working out your training schedule for the following season. You can purchase our training plan to help you on your journey.
While it can be challenging to think about the upcoming season in the cold of winter, the benefits of a few extra months of work can help set you up for your best season of sprinting ever. So, while most other sprinters are taking the next few months off, you will get stronger, faster, and prepared to set new personal bests in the coming year.