Weight Room Exercises for 400m Runners

Feet on starting block ready for a spring start.  Focus on leg of a athlete about to start a race in stadium with sun flare.
400-meter runners benefit from strength training programs (Image: jacoblund/iStock/Getty Images)

To be a successful 400-meter runner, one must have the speed to sprint, while also maintaining the endurance to hold a fast pace for a longer period of time. Because weight training increases power output — necessary in speed training — weight training is imperative for 400-meter athletes to increase their strength and overall speed. A stronger sprinter is a faster sprinter.

Weightlifting for Sprinters

According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, runners who excel at shorter distances, whether the 100-meter or 400-meter distance, had more muscle mass than others. Additionally, the runners with the most muscle mass excelled in the sprints (100 meter, 200 meter and 400 meter) vs. long-distance runners.

According to USA Track & Field, the governing body for track and field, 400-meter runners should focus on strength training, both in and out of season. Tudor Bompa, the creator of periodization training believes that strength training will help develop an athletes power endurance and muscular endurance if the exercise or race is performed in less than a minute. In the case of 400-meter runners, muscular endurance is extremely important.

Charles Poliquin is one of the premier strength coaches in the world, having trained dozens of Olympic medalists and professional athletes. Poliquin believes that strength training is very important for a track & field athlete and recommends these specific exercises for 400-meter sprinters:

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