Weight Room Exercises for 400m Runners

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400-meter runners benefit from strength training programs
Image Credit: Eugenio Marongiu/Cultura/GettyImages

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. To achieve this, include exercises for 400-meter runners in your workout routine.


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.

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Workouts for 400-Meter Runners

According to an older but still valid study published in 2005 in the Journal of Experimental Biology, runners who excel at shorter distances, whether the 100- 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) versus long-distance runners.

According to an article published in November 2017 by Strength and Conditioning Journal, strength training for the lower extremities is key for developing power — or movement with great force — as required for sprinters.

Read more: The Most Important Sprinting Muscles

1. Squats

Include weighted squats when weight training for 400-meter runners. Running speed is influenced by the amount of force and power an athlete exerts on the ground.


  1. Start with a barbell on your back and your feet shoulder-width distance apart.
  2. With a "proud" upright chest, send the glutes back as you squat down, remembering to keep your knees aligned over your toes.
  3. Drive against the ground as you rise back up to standing.

Read more: How to Run Sprint Intervals

2. Power Cleans

Power cleans are an important part of any 400-meter strength training program. This Olympic lift builds explosive strength and speed.


  1. Start with the barbell at shin height with your hands a little wider than hip distance apart.
  2. With a strong core and proud chest, lift the barbell off of the ground.
  3. Shrug the barbell up as you drop underneath the barbell and receive the barbell across your chest in a quarter squat.
  4. Return to standing and repeat.


3. Push Sleds

A power speed sled (not your traditional snow sled) is a fantastic way to build power, speed, and strength all at the same time. Include this dynamic exercise in your 400-meter weight training program.


  1. Place weight on the sled.
  2. Push the sled as fast as possible for 20 meters.

4. Glute-Ham Raise

This exercise, as demonstrated by the American Council on Exercise, works the glutes, hip extension and knee flexion functions of the hamstrings, and even the calves. With the loads sprinting places on the muscles in your posterior chain, the glute-ham raise will train the muscles required to perform the 400-meter dash.


  1. Step into a glute-hamstring machine and lie down with your body parallel to the floor, facing toward the floor.
  2. Hook your feet into the foot holder.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and raise your legs up toward the sky.
  4. Lower the weight back down, with control, and repeat.

5. Calf Raises

Calf raises, as demonstrated by ExRx.net, strengthen the plantarflexors, or muscles that help propel your body forward with each step.


  1. Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a step.
  2. Lower your heels below the step.
  3. Rise up as high as possible on your toes.
  4. Slowly lower back down.
  5. Repeat 10 times, working up to three sets.




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