Lifting for Speed

Hi Tanner
Which leg exercises have you found most effective for sprint training ?

Deadlift, Squat, Leg press … In particular there seems to be a divergence between the deadlift and squat believers.

I guess that as a former footballer you have trained to improve 40m speed both for early career talent selection and for game specific speed. Crossfit I believe works more at the 400m length sprint. Any difference in the approach for long versus short sprints.

Your thoughts on olympic lifts. I can see some logic in the clean and press or snatch moves. My hesitation is the level of technical skill needed. And whether you can lift enough weigth to truly activate CNS and fast twitch muscles.


For sprint training specifically I would focus the most on the trap bar deadlift probably. There’s been studies to show that the trap bar deadlift was the only exercise proven to be positively correlated with sprint speed.

However I’m also a big believer in squats and single leg work such as rear foot elevated split squats. You also want to train your hip flexor strength (mainly psoas muscle).

If I was training a client for sprint speed I would prioritize the following exercises:

trap bar deadlift (drop bar after each rep)
Rear foot elevated split squats
Nordic curls
GH raises
Antertior tibialis training
Weighted jumps w/light weights
a lot of sled pushes

I think the olympic lifts are great and I was fairly competent in both lifts when my knees weren’t so banged up. However, I think the olympic lifts are best performed if you’re an olympic lifter or competitive crossfitter only. Sprinters/football players can benefit from power cleans but there’s no real need to snatch IMO.

I would focus more on the trap bar deadlift, plyos, strengthening my hip flexors and hamstrings. And also sled pushes and of course practice the skill of sprinting itself.

Thanks, a great reply. The best summary I have seen for this topic. Especially the priority list.

I consider myself a competetive sportsman (of sorts) who uses strength work as a means to an end. Lifting is a secondary consideration to actual sprinting and game play, so i need an effective way to select the smallest but most efficient dose of lifting.
Nice one.

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Most welcome. I hope it helps.