The 400 meters -- 437 yards --- is the longest of the sprint events in track athletics, and 400-meter runners require a combination of anaerobic fitness, strength and power to be successful. You can perform several exercises in the weight room that will help your sprinting. To develop strength and power, focus on lifting heavy weights for six to eight repetitions.
Split Squat Jumps
Split squat jumps develop explosive leg strength, hip mobility and anaerobic power. To perform this exercise, stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides. Take a large step forward and lower your rear knee to within an inch of the floor. Jump explosively into the air and swap legs so that, on landing, your foot position is reversed. Descend into another repetition and repeat. Make this exercise more demanding by holding dumbbells in your hands or a weight across your shoulders.
The barbell thruster is a full-body exercise that develops explosive starting strength -- essential for getting a good start in a 400-meter sprint. Grasp a barbell using a shoulder-width, underhand grip and hold it across the front of your shoulders. Push your elbows forward and lift your chest. With your feet shoulder width apart, bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Extend your legs and quickly drive up and out of the squat. Maintain the momentum of the bar and push it overhead to arms' length. Bend your arms, lower the bar back to shoulder height and repeat.
Although sprinting is primarily a lower body exercise, your arms, shoulders and chest also contribute to your forward speed -- your legs will only go as fast as your arms allow. The renegade row will develop all of your major upper-body muscles as well as your core. With a dumbbell in each hand, bend your legs, place the weights on the floor and adopt the pushup position. Make sure your heels, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Bend your arms and perform a single pushup. Once your arms are fully extended, brace your abdominal muscles and pull one of the dumbbells off the floor and into your armpit. Lower the dumbbell back to the floor and perform another pushup. Continue alternating rows and pushups for the duration of your set.
Sprinting requires powerful hamstrings and glutes. These posterior hip muscles drive your thighs backward and are key muscles in 400-meter running. The Romanian deadlift targets all of the muscles in the so-called posterior chain, including your hamstrings, glutes, lower back and upper back. Grasp a barbell with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Stand with your feet hip width apart. Bend your knees slightly and keep your arms straight so that the weight rests across your thighs. Push your butt backward and hinge forward from your hips. Lower the bar down the front of your legs as far as your flexibility will allow. Do not let your lower back round, as this can lead to injury. Push your hips forward and stand back up.
- "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning"; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2008
- "Strength Training Anatomy"; Frederic Delavier; 2010
- "The Art of Sprinting: Techniques for Speed and Performance"; Warren Doscher; 2009