T Nation

Sprints For Power (Experts Wanted)


Hi, and thanks for taking the time to help me out. I am looking to add sprints to my regime for explosive speed (not endurance). I currently do olympic lifting and some basic strength training. I will be doing two sprint session per week.

  1. I was having trouble finding the total distance (meters) one should aim for. I understand that the distances should be under 50m (for power), but what should the total per session be?

  2. From what I understand, rest periods should be fairly long. Does this mean 3-5 minutes between each 40m sprint?

  3. During these rest periods, should you jog, walk, or just completely stop?

Thanks so much for your advice.


I'm no expert, but I try to read things by them :slight_smile:

1.) I think it depends on your qualification, but generally I would aim for no more than 500m total. You could probably go a little higher if you are younger or really slow/weak. What would be even better to do would be to use drop-offs though, IMO.

2.) I believe I've heard a 40:1 rest:sprint ratio somewhere on Charlie Francis. So yeah, 3-5 minutes per 40m sprint would be good.

3.) I don't think you want to jog, but I don't think you should stop moving completely. I think walking is a good method, but maybe some of the advanced sprinters on the board can chime in here.


If your aim is PURE explosive power I would suggest near full recoevery between every run.

Overall volume CAN be high, however once you begin to lose your technique and slow down your track session should come to an end. Keep in mind that your goal is quality and to run as fast as possible. Consequently whenever fatigue sets in you should stop.

Your workout would probably resemble a similar template used by sprinter's for blockwork. This type of workout is used to increase speed over very short distances, and yes recruits a great deal of power and Type IIB muscle fibres. An example would be as follows...

Something to keep in mind: I'm sure as an oly lifter that you are well aware of this, however just in case, Be warmed up properly before engaging in this type of explosive exercise as the potential for muscle pulls/tears are increased without proper warmup

3x20m @ 90%
1X30m @ 90%
2x40m @ 90%
2x50m @ 95%

I do not think however that for the requirements of your sport that you would necessarily recquire anything of very high volume. Of course your first couple workouts will be somewhat experimental as you will find out what would be considered high volume. Depending on your fitness level, that would determine your ability to sustain proper sprint form and resist fatigue over the duration of the workout. From there you can determine how much overall volume you should implement into your training. In gneral I'd say nothing over 300m in total volume.

For your rest periods I would not recommend sitting completely as keeping warm is important, maybe throwing the jogging pants back on and walking around, but nothing too demanding that would result in tiring you out. I do not think a jog would be necessary, but a walk would suffice. Your main goal here is to be rested, loose and warm!

I do not know if you are already doing this, but you may also benefit from plyometrics as well, especially two footed jumps for height onto a box into the snatch position.

Hope this helps


From what I understand, Charlie Francis recommends resting 1 minute per 10m.


why would you do sprints at any less than 100%... wouldn't be effective imo


Couple comments on sprinting:
Something I find beneficial with sprinting is to feel the acceleration when you start sprinting. Be conscious of your movement and acceleration and try to take it to the max.

I myself will do 3-5 sprints a session. That is my workout for the day. Makes my lower back fucking sore. I do one sprint workout per week.

I sprint up a very steep hill, have no clue how many metres. Takes maybe 5 seconds the way I run it. I always focus on consciosly pushing myself faster and faster and feeling myself sprint.

Sprints are harder to fuck up than other exercises. I run up a grassy hill, and there are little holes and even some branches about. Yet, I have not injured myself yet (about a year of sprinting, including some in the winter when there's no snow). No injuries from falling, and none from footing and landscape. BUT, I have hurt my lower back from doing two sprint sessions a week. Nothing conclusive from this, might have been overtraining before. But you never know. Better to undertrain than to overtrain.



what are you training for


I logged on today to go looking for something on this topic... And here it is!!

I just noticed today how outta shape I am, I pulled a 190kg deadlift 2 weeks ago and today was my first DL session since then, I pulled 140kg 3x8 and it felt like i was going to vomit.

Would sprints help with conditioning for PL?

I was thinking half a soccer pitch 3-5 times, twice a week.


Thanks for your reply. What are drop-offs?


Thanks, I was wondering what the rationale behind those sprints was? I'm assuming it has something to do with running shorter distances when you are at your best?

Also I've read alot about plyometrics, but feel pretty unsure about adding them on top of everything I'm already doing. Do you think that adding plyometrics to sprinting, olympic lifting, and strength training would be overkill?
If not, I would love to hear your thoughts about where plyometrics should go in all of this.


If you can afford it get a pair of track shoes too. It will really help you hit that posterior chain if you learn to "pull" with the spikes.


What do you mean when you say "Pull"? I keep reading about proper sprint form, but does anyone know where I could find a picture or video breakdown of how I should be sprinting? Now I know I could watch any video of the olympics, but its pretty hard to see the specifics.


Good info guys, I woud like to say thanks aswell.

And add a question :
coud I do the workout which was written here 2 times a week and do endurance work and still benfit from both ?


Specifically what do you mean by endurance work? If it is something like a 5km run, then you will likely negate your efforts. However If it us some sort of tempo work, individual repeats up to a max of 300-500m each. Then I beleive that would suffice.

Check out the thread on 400M we covered some material related to developing anaerobic endurance.



I would rather be overtrained than undertrained.


You don't want to do sprints to build endurance for PL'ing. Totally different muscular regimes.

Pull a sled. If you don't have the cash, go to Home Depot and buy some rope. Go to a tire stors and buy a pile of tires. Use your T-Noggin to rig up a homemade sled. Start making trips up and down the field.

Sprinting is completely rate dominant. Pl'ing has the opposite firing patterns across the board. Slow RFD, maintaining tension, slow release of force. Sprints are exactly opposite.



Dan Fichter, Brad Nuttall and I have a DVD coming out that will explain how we build speed Inno-Sport style. we have had great results with our methods, including one of the top long jumpers in the world. Dan recently spoke at the Nike Indoor Nationals meet in Baltimore and received alot of inquiry from Shawn Crawford. Use caution when pulling sleds and running up hills. If the incline is too great or the weight is too heavy, you will change your recruitment pattern. I use a 10 lb weight on a track or a 25 lb weight on the pavement for my sled runs. I only use the sled for acceleration work.


How much weight do you suggest using on a sled as a percentage of bodyweight? Or would you simply put 10 pounds on it.


What I am looking for is a decrease in speed by 5%. I use all electronic timing, so I time a fly 30. The suggested weight seems to work for 90% of my athletes.


Normal sprinter's track workouts for short explosive starts out of blocks are about 8-12 sprints, depending on their length. I like the idea in one of the posts of not going over 500M total. That's about right. If you can work up to 12 runs of 40M (maintaining the same form and effort of course), you'll be in great shape.

There's no need to go much past 50M. At that point, even a world class sprinter has just about completed their drive phase and its all about sprint form then. The driving acceleration is the part that will be of concern to you looking for a power carryover to lifting.

After a sprint, don't slam on the brakes, coast and slow down over a good distance. For a 40M, you could probably take 20-30M to slow down nice and relaxed. Then just walk back to the starting line. That will keep you moving enough for a good rest period of about 4 minutes.

If you are doing sprints and lifting on the same day, I thinks its probably best to do the sprinting first. My college track workouts always included sprints first and then lifting. Our coach always said to do your excercises in an order requiring greatest flexibility first. After lifting, your muscles may be too tight to sprint well.