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Components of a Weightlifting Program for Sprinters?

author image Kay Tang
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.
Components of a Weightlifting Program for Sprinters?
A man is training his lower body. Photo Credit takoburito/iStock/Getty Images

A sprinter's weightlifting program addresses different types of strength, ranging from endurance to explosive power. Different exercises, such as isolation exercises or ballistic lifts, can help you develop the multiple abilities required to improve performance as well as correct muscular imbalances. The program's goals also change as you approach competition.

Types of Lifts

To build speed and power, weight training for sprinters should incorporate four types of lifts -- static, Olympic, ballistic and isolation. Static lifts strengthen major muscle groups -- in the butt, thighs, shoulders and chest -- in a slow and controlled way and include bench presses, hang cleans, squats, weighted lunges and single-leg squats. Olympic lifts, such as the snatch and clean and jerk, condition your nervous system to fire faster, accelerating the muscle contractions in your legs. Ballistic lifts develop explosive power and include medicine-ball exercises and weighted-vest drills. Resistance exercises, such as calf raises and biceps curls, isolate and work smaller muscles, enabling you to target areas of weakness.

First Step: Foundation

Not all of the different types of lifts required for sprint training are performed from the outset. Early training involves static lifts to build a foundation of strength as well as isolation exercises to identify, measure and rectify strength imbalances. The objective of weightlifting sessions should be endurance, in which athletes generally begin with light weights and perform 10 to 15 reps for three sets. Sprinters also engage in circuit training, which typically consists of five to 10 exercises with 2- to 3-minute rest intervals, to build endurance. As sprinters develop greater work capacity, they can increase the load and perform fewer reps to build muscle mass.

The Key: Power

After lifting for strength and endurance, sprinters then undertake power training via ballistic or explosive lifts. Olympic lifts and jump squats help to develop your triple extension -- of hips, knees and ankles -- reactive strength and rate of force. This type of strength allows you to burst out of the starting blocks and accelerate quickly. While the most commonly used Olympic lifts used in sprint training programs are the snatch and the clean, a jump squat offers the same benefits but requires less training to learn technique. For a jump squat, sprinters typically use a load of 15 to 40 percent of their one-rep maximum. To do the jump squat, pause at the bottom of your squat with the barbell set across the back of your shoulders and then explode up to the ceiling. During the power-building phase of weightlifting, perform two to five reps for three to five sets with 3- to 10-minute rest intervals between sets.

Sample Plan

According to Rogers, segment a training plan into three periods -- preseason, early season and late season. During preseason, perform squats, step-ups, bench presses and dumbbell arm swings on day 1. For day 2, execute lunges, single-leg squats, pushups and power cleans. On the third day, do squats, step-ups, bench presses and snatches. Complete three sets of 10 to 15 reps for each exercise. In the early season, day 1's regimen should mirror day 1 of preseason but incorporate abdominal exercises as well. On day 2, perform snatches, pushups, single-leg squats, dumbbell arm swings and weighted lunges. On day 3, do two sets of three reps of squats and three sets of five reps of bench presses. Reduce training volume to eight to 10 reps for exercises. In the late season, taper your weight training to two days per week, reduce volume to three to six reps and increase load. On day 1, perform power cleans, bench presses, step-ups, dumbbell arm swings and ab exercises. For day 2, do snatches, pushups, single-leg squats, dumbbell arm swings and weighted lunges.

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