LIFTING FOR SPEED: TIPS FOR LIFTING FOR SPRINTERS
LIFTING FOR SPEED: TIPS TO OPTIMIZE YOUR STRENGTH TRAINING
Building strength to improve your speed is a given fact, but there is a lot of ambiguity around the subject. How often should you lift? What lifts should you do? What kind of split should you follow? Are all questions I have seen asked hundreds of times and answered vaguely just as many. Why? Because I think not many people have broken down what adaptations you REALLY need as a sprinter. So, let’s lay out some key important things to consider when deciding how you can build strength and power as a track athlete!
KEEP THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING
The first thing that I think we need to clear the air about is how frequently you should lift as a track athlete. Like anything, your sport should always be the first focus, regardless of your experience level.
Why? Lifting is a supplement to your sport; the ONLY exception is if lifting IS your sport. If you run a 10s 100m, who cares what your clean is?
So, make sure you keep the main thing, the main thing. If you have 3-4 sprinting workouts in a week, only lift when you can without impeding on your sprint workouts.
Even if that means it is only twice a week. That will be more than enough to supplement your sprinting workouts. So, lift when you can fit it in and keep the focus on your sport.
DON’T OVERCOMPLICATE IT
In concert with keeping the main thing, the main thing. Understand that for 90%+ of athletes, doing the simple things exceptionally well is the best approach. Because lifting is only meant to supplement what you are doing for your sport there is no need to overcomplicate what you do.
The key performance indicating lifts I look to use for sprinters and jumpers are,
· Split Squats
· Trap Bar or Semi-Sumo Deadlifts
These are the lifts I look to for focus because there are two main motions the body goes through when sprinting, Hip Extension and Single Leg Force Production. So, when deciding what lifts to do, keeping It to just two simple lifts makes it easy.
“But what about training for power? Or strength? Or Speed?”
The great thing about these lifts is you can train different physiological adaptations by managing load, volume, and velocity. Want to train for power? Lighten the load and perform Trap Bar jumps. It is really that simple.
SPLITS ARE FOR BODYBUILDERS, ADAPTATIONS ARE FOR ATHLETES
“What split should I follow?” Is probably the most ridiculous question I see asked because a split is not the goal when lifting for athletes. The goal when lifting as an athlete is to accomplish a certain adaptation, generally, that’s an increase in power and/or strength. I am here to tell you, you can train those adaptations continuously because it is not the main thing, your sport is.
Sprinting is entirely about producing the most amount of force in the shortest amount of time. So, the focus needs to be on training those adaptations in each session, given you only have 2-3 chances to train them.
Yes, what I am saying is you need to focus on training two adaptations each and every session. Do you also need supplemental and accessory lifts to assist in other areas? Yes, injury prevention is important, and developing lagging muscle groups can be helpful.
But the focus of the session needs to be on training force production and power output.
To summarize my position, do not sacrifice your sport to “work on your strength” because lifting is NOT your sport. Lifting is meant to assist you in your sport, it does not replace it!
Keep things simple, because doing a few things very well will always outweigh doing many things mediocrely. “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” – Bruce Lee.
Do not worry about what split you are following, but instead focus on the adaptations you are creating. To create the adaptations that will take you to the next level you need to train it more than once a week. So, forget the splits and focus on the adaptations.