T Nation

Track Season Weight Training


I'm a almost 17 year old high school athlete, and track season has just begun. I love track, I am a hurdler and sprinter, and am competitive in both events. More than that though, I am a football player. I really have no idea how I am going to organize my lower body weight lifting and still run as well as I am capable.

Right now, the plan is to alternate between box squats and deadlifts for 4x5 and 6x3, respectively, on wednesdays, and power cleans for doubles on fridays. Of course this is on top of my upper body lifting, which I'm not worried about altering because I don't feel it has much of an effect on my speed when my arms or shoulders are fatigued.

This seems like very little volume for my legs; not even enough to grow. If there is one thing I need to do before football season, it is to grow some legs.

Some info:
17 years old
160 pounds

Most Recent Numbers:
255x1 Parallel Box Squat
240x1 Trap Bar Deadlift
215 5x5 Barbell Deadlift

Bench is pathetically weak, I hurt my shoulder a few weaks ago in a basketball game and haven't been able to bench or do any kind of pressing without pain. It's almost completely healed now, though; should be back to normal in about a week. Anyways, I did 135x10 for a test in gym class. I suck, I know.

As you can see, I desperately need to gain size and strength, and can't afford to simply not lift or just maintain during track season. How would you guys go about lifting (specifically lower body training)? I have 40 minutes every mon-wed-fri in gym class to lift.
Thanks for your thoughts.


Your coach doesn't have an organized weights protocol for the sprinters and the team as a whole?


Our coaches consist of the middle school gym teacher, the band teacher, and a 60 year old lady who is the computer teacher. None of them have any idea about how to train young atheletes, we just had to fill a quota in order to have a team. I'm happy when they actually divide the sprinters and distance runners for practice, so any chance of sprint-specific weight training program isn't happening.


Here's a couple basic tips.

Try to organize your training (I don't know if you have that much say over it, but it sounds like your coaches don't know much so they are probably push-overs where you can do your own thing) in a "high-low" fashion if possible. Basically it means alternate "high stress" days with "low stress" days.

A high stress day will include one or more of these:
-Heavy Lifting
-"Bodybuilding" training done to failure

A low stress day will include one or more of:
-Tempo running
-Ab work
-Light medicine ball core training
-"Bodybuilding" training done short of failure

As a general rule, you need to do a LOT less sprinting than they are probably having you doing. Stive for AT LEAST a 30:1 rest:run ratio. I think I have seen recommended as high as 75:1 for high-qualification sprinters (which you probably are not. If you are doing 100s, try for AT LEAST 5 minutes of rest between sets. Running while fatigued is not going to help you get much faster.

Also, try not to exceed much more than 300 meters in a practice session. 500 meters AT MOST. So you can do 30 x 10, 50 x 6, 100x 3, etc. Even if you run 400m, I would try to keep the sprint volume down to 500m or less, although the 400 is a totally different animal- if you are serious about running that you probably need to hook up with a good coach, training for the 400 is a lot different than the 100 or 200.

Try to use a "short to long" approach if you can. That means that early in the season try to work on your acceleration as much as possible, do 20 and 30 meter runs and really work on your start mechanics. As the season progresses, get more into 50 and 60 meter runs and work on your maximum velocity. As you approach the mid to end of the season, work on your full races, whether that is 100 or 200.

As a sprinter, you should always try to lift after weights, but I know that may not always be possible. If that is not possible, do your heavy lifting early in the season and taper off the lifting as you go on.

Low stress days should focus on tempo running. Tempo is done at no more than 75% of your maximum speed. You can do it at the same distance your races are, don't exceed 1000m total. Maybe somebody more knowledgeable then me can get in here with better tempo recomendations.

Try not to sprint 2 days in a row, that's pretty important.

There's a ton more stuff, and I don't know how much of that you can apply, but keep asking questions- I know there are a few competitive sprinters on here that can probably give you advice.


Good tips from jtrinsey.


The vast majority of high school track coaches don't impliment weight training programs. It can be extremely difficult to do so within the confines of a high school track season and the limited resources that coaches are typically faced with.

This is always an unpopular opinion, but strength training is not that important for sprinters, particularly at the HS level. Yes, it has benefits, but you can do very well with a good running program alone. Do not get into the mindset that you're not going to be able to run well in the absence of a strength program- that's simply not true. Even a lot of college teams don't lift weights.

Also, in the experiences of some (myself included), it can be very difficult to integrate lower body weight training with an intense sprinting program! The stress of lifting compromises your ability to train on the track.

I stongly advise you to adhere to your coach's training program and not undermine him/her by training outside of practice. I pulled that shit all through HS and trust me, it only creates problems. If you can't live with your coach's training, then quit the team, train on your own, and run unattached in college meets.


I actually have to disagree with you here. I think the biggest problem with most high school kids is a plain and simple lack of strength. The number 1 difference between high school athletes and college athletes is pure physical strength. I learned this the hard way when I stepped up from high school to college. Most high school athletes are simply way too weak to do anything useful.

With that said, I agree with you that weight lifting is not essential IN-SEASON. Out of season, he better be lifting weights, but right now, I agree that they are not NECCESSARY, but I still feel that they are useful.

I do also agree with the part about not undermining coaches. It sounds to me like the coaches don't really have a clue and are out there babysitting the kids and letting them do what they want. If they are trying to actually conduct a practice, you definitly need to be listening. However, if they are doing things that you think are detrimental to the team, I would always encourage you to try and sit down and have a good discussion outside of practice.


This may be true in most sports, but I believe that strength is overrated for running (at least when the term "strength" is associated with the amount of weight one can lift). The amount of force you can apply to the ground while running just doesn't have much to do with amount of weight you can squat, dead, clean, etc. I had this argument with Charlie Francis a few years ago and, while he is a proponent of weight training, even he admits that you don't have to be strong in the weight room to be strong on the track.

That said, I do agree that weight training is useful even if not necessary. I am not against it by any means. The main point that I wanted to make was simply that, even if weight training may be neccessary for a sprinter to reach his ultimate potential, it is still possible to have a very effective training program without it at the HS level.


1st focus on achieving "desired somatotype"
For the 100m and football you want urself a huge shredded 6 footer.

Do this with bodybuilding style work, and BTW , you cant run fast without a strong upper body. (or-you cant win the olympics without s strong upper body..)


jtrinsey, thanks for all that info! It answered just about everything I wanted to know, and some things I didn't even realize I wanted to know!

I lift for football, but also run track; if my goal was to run faster, I wouldn't be lifting hard. In fact, I don't plan on lifting at all during my senior track season. However, I HAVE to get bigger for football; hence my question.

Then you see my dilemma.

The track coaches don't care at all whether I lift or not. My football coach, however, does. I understand what you're saying, and it makes sense; however, it doesn't really apply to my individual situation.


Ahh, I see. Yes you do need to lift then. If the coach doesn't care then go for it, but you've got to integrate the track workouts with your weight workouts carefully. does your coach follow a weekly training schedule? if so, maybe someone can get an idea of when it would be best for you to lift


Well, I'm going on past history here, but it's usually interval training every day before the seaosn starts. When the season starts, I usually do hurdle work on the day after meets, and interval work any time there's a two day break between meets. Usually meets are on tuesdays and thursdays, and invitationals on Saturday mornings, if I remember correctly. My question is how some of you would organize your lower body weight lifting with this schedule, with the goal of getting stronger.


Go to www.elitetrack.com


I've been a powerlifter and track athlete for over 15 years and I know how piss poor the personal attention you receive from high school track coaches is.
I love doing ballastic work on the hack squat machine. If you have access to a hack squat machine, I suggest you do reps where you explode off the platform about 2 inches then decelerate down into a deep squat postion, then repeat for about 6-8 reps. Always stretch and warm-up before doing this or any other type of ballastic movements.
I also find doing ballastic abdominal work helps speed. Doing straight-leg leg raises with a 1-0-1-0 tempo, and you could put a light dumbell between your feet as well.
Don't neglect your pecs, delts, tri's and traps. If you've ever seen the fastest men in the world, you'll know what I'm talking about.


You might wanna try asking some of the T-Nation coaches as they have tons of good info.