The Best Way to Build Up Sprint Stamina

Young male athlete training on a race track
Improve your speed to pull ahead of the pack. (Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images)

If you don't develop your sprint stamina, you may not be able to finish alongside — or ahead of — competitors in a race. Likewise, if you play a competitive sport, you might see a competitor beat you to a loose ball or the end zone. You can, however, improve your sprint stamina, or how long you can stay at or near your top running speed. During your racing or playing season, choose interval speed training. During the off-season, go for weight training. And always stretch to improve your flexibility.

In Season

Step 1

Choose a day for interval speed training, making sure it's a day when you do not have muscle fatigue. This means training after 24 to 36 hours of rest, performance coach Brian Mac advises.

Step 2

Warm up by running at a moderate speed for five minutes.

Step 3

Sprint for 30 seconds. Drop to a moderate speed for two to three minutes to allot for recovery. Perform eight to 10 such intervals, recommends Richard B. Kreider, lead author for the book “Exercise and Sport Nutrition." Running at a high velocity for short intervals ultimately brings into play the correct neuromuscular pathways and energy sources used in sprinting, Mac adds.

Step 4

Up your sprint time to 60 seconds and lower your recovery time as you get into better shape, says Kreider.

Step 5

Stretch following your workout. Flexibility affects your stride frequency and your stride rate, Mac notes.

Off Season

Step 1

On Mondays, perform squats, step-ups, bench presses and dumbbell arm swings. Improved muscle strength translates to a better stride length, Mac explains. Start with 25 repetitions of each exercise and work up to 40 to maximize endurance, advise Ben Weider and Joe Weider in their book “The Edge: Ben and Joe Weider’s Guide to Ultimate Strength, Speed and Stamina.” The high reps will help increase enzymes that help your body clear lactic acid, which will improve your ability to sprint toward the end of your event, the Weiders note.

Step 2

Perform lunges, single-leg squats and the bench press on Wednesdays. Also use power cleans to develop your large muscles; this exercise, Mac explains, uses an explosive action that requires many of your muscle groups and joints to function in a coordinated movement. Perform six sets of eight repetitions for this exercise. Do power cleans with a barbell, starting at the shin with your thighs parallel to the floor. Stand and come up on your toes as you pull the bar straight up close to your body. Shrug your trapezius muscles to elevate the bar. Continue the upward pull until the weight is racked across the top of your shoulders and your elbows point out and high. Lower the bar to start position.

Step 3

Work out on Fridays by doing squats, step-ups and the bench press. Add utilize snatches, which develop muscles in the same way power cleans do. Perform six sets of eight for this exercise, Mac recommends. Snatches are done with a barbell, starting at the shin and thighs parallel to the floor. Keep arms and back straight and stand, using your legs and hips to pull as you stand. Shrug your shoulders, and pull the bar up, keeping it close to the body. End with the bar overhead and body extended.

Step 4

Stretch after each workout to maintain your flexibility.

Things You'll Need

  • Track

  • Barbells

  • Dumbbells

  • Weight bench

Tip

Perform plyometric exercises, such as jumping on and off a box, to help develop explosive power.

Warning

Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

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