T Nation

Sprinter Training

Question Mr. Defranco, if you had to train a 55m, 60m, 100m specialist sprinter how would you go about this as far as track work, event specific endurance work, and weight room work, as well would any of your theories change? For ex the possible exclusion of any extensive rep method as muscle mass is a hinderance to speed at a point, etc…Thanks.

Weight training is completely overrated for sprinters. Stick to the track!!!

hmm i dont think so…Charlie Francis preaches it…

I think I read in SI once that Carl Lewis (Olympic Gold Medalist 100m, broad jump etc. 1984) used to perform squats once per week. His max was 400lbs.

First of all, strength training is ESSENTIAL to all sprinters - especially 100m runners and below! The shorter the distance of the race, the more important strength and explosive power becomes. Last I checked Ben Johnson, Maurice Greene, etc. all were carrying around some muscle on their frames.

This is a very in-depth question with regards to all of the aspects of training for a sprinter. I don’t have the time to map out an entire program for you; but I’ll give you some key points on how I train my sprinters. Hopefully this helps you to design a productive program for yourself.

#1) The faster you are, the LESS often you sprint. Sprinting at 100% places great stress on the CNS. The faster you are, the longer it takes to recover from workouts. Sprinting all-out in your event should only be done once every 7-10 days for advanced athletes.

#2) Build speed BEFORE speed endurance. In other words, if you have no speed, how are you going to build speed endurance??? Yet, I still see high school coaches having their 100m runners running 400’s to “build a base” for their 100. This is BULLSHIT! The 100 and 400 have completely different energy system requirements. I start my 100m athletes with 10m sprints and work their way up. Remember that the shorter the race, the more important the start and first 10m becomes!

#3) Knowing that the start and first 10m is essential to these short sprints, we must know how to train for them. Your 1st step and 1st 10m power is predominantly a function of your TECHNIQUE and RELATIVE STRENGTH. Build the proper strength in the weight room and then get coached properly in the start and first 10m. (You can practice this aspect of the race much more often than other aspects. Because it’s such a short distance, you recover faster and you’re much less likely to pull a muscle.)

#4) Once you’ve built an explosive start, work your way up by running 30m, 60m, 100m. Remember to build your speed first, then work on the “endurance” aspect of the race.

#5) Work on exercises that have the best carryover to sprinting in the weight room. Squats, deadlifts, barbell reverse lunges, single leg squats, reverse hypers, glute-ham raises, chin-ups, step-ups,etc. Incorporate the dynamin-effort method as well as the max-effort method into your programming. I do feel that high-rep training does have it’s place in a sprinter’s training arsenal as well, but the timing is crucial. Also work on timed sets. For example, if you’re training a 100m runner who’s goal is to run a 10.5, have him perform 10.5-second sets. For example, performing as many single leg squats as possible in 10.5 seconds. Do 2-3 week mini cycles with this type of exercise where the goal isn’t to lift heavier, it’s to lift FASTER.

These are just some tips off of the top of my head. Hopefully they helped.
Oh, one more thing, don’t overlook the nutrition aspect of your training. The people that think weightlifting makes them “bulky and slow” usually think this because they eat like shit! Remember that weightlifting in conjunction with a poor diet CAN make you slower! This is because although your absolute strength may increase, your relative strength may decrease if you’re making poor food choices.

Get stronger, eat clean, work on your flexibility and practice your technique!
Good luck!


Awesome info coach D!

Mr. Defranco,
This is exactly what I was looking for, a look into you theories/views on the subject. I wouldn’t ask for a complete program as I know this is not a possibility without knowing my physical dimensions, technical proficiency, weight room numbers, track numbers, diet, training age, etc…As well the fact that your a professional and it is time consuming to write these programs and you dont have much time on your hands. I am a follower of the Charlie Francis Training system, or course with my own views on weight training. I like your ideas very much. Thanks again.

As well, you are very correct about the sprinters, if you were to search for pictures of all those people, even tim mont.(although still skinny much more muscled than before) are very lean muscled people. And Ben Johnson, the fastest man ever thus far had world class powerlifting numbers for his time, even now. @175 he had a 6RM of 600lbs in the squat(to parallel, and for 2 sets!) and a 402 bench press for a double! As well he outstripped lat pull down machines! Again thank you, just some info i thought id offer.

What are some good books to learn more about training for speed and sprinters?


All the information JoeD just gave is directly from the Charlie Francis Training System Book. You can buy it at CharlieFrancis.com, or just go there and research the threads. Charlie has been preaching eactly the same thing for over 20 years now, and he has some 30 Olympic records under his coaching.

I am glad Joe is bringing forth information like this, but the CFTS has been the standard training model many, many college and Olympic track coaches for decades.

Unfortunately, most team sport athletes get the standard NSCA training splits and periodization… this is probably all you have been exposed to… it is why performance coaches make the same money as top S&C guys and we work with 1/10 the athletes… because we get changes in performance, most S&C programs brag about how in shape they can get their 4.4 guys…but, the guys arrived as freshmen running 4.4’s. S&C guys get a 4.4 athlete in shape… conditioning. Joe takes a 4.6 guy and makes him into a 4.4 guy…very, very different. Joe’s record speaks for itself.

Troll for a while on Charlie’s site if you are serious… amazing information… amazing coach.

Lil’ Coach H