Weight Training For Strength and Power For Track Sprinters and Power Athletes

Athletes require strength-speed or speed-strength to be successful in track sprints.  Strength conditioning for athletes requires a sound strength programme.  Strength drills must much the angles and positions experienced by an athlete when performing the event.  Coaches must devise drills that allow a sprinter to apply power effectively.  A Strength training program for sprinters and other power athletes, must be planned with the following in mind.


Age of athlete

Training age

Training time

Strength requirements

Competition dates

This is not an exhaustive list but it’s a start.  Strength training can consist of resistance work, plyometrics, medicine ball work and body weight exercises to develop body strength. A coach can plan or periodise a strength training program by following how the body gains strength naturally.  As humans grow the body initially attains muscle mass, then strength and then power.  Following this pattern of development is an efficient way of planning strength training, for sprinters. 

Hypertrophy phase

This phase can be 4-10 weeks long.  The shorter phases suit sprinters because longer phases cause excess body mass to be gained.  Strength training for muscle mass should be done specifically for the hamstrings and quadriceps.  A weight of 60-75% of the maximum lifted for an exercise should be used.  Repetitions of 8-12 lifts should be done with 1-2 minutes recovery in between.  This will build muscle mass over time.  Sets of 3-5 should be completed. Training should be done 3 times a week

Maximum strength phase

This phase can be 4-6 weeks long.  During this time the aim is to acquire an increase in strength by using the newly developed muscle acquired during the hypertrophy phase.  The intensity should fall between 75-95% intensity.  Repetitions should be kept to a minimum.  2-3 repetitions in a set is ideal. 3-5 minutes is sufficient rest between sets.  Sets of 3-5 should be the maximum. Training should be completed twice a week.

Power phase

This phase can last 4-6 weeks long.  During this phase the aim is to teach the muscles to contract explosively and with greater force.  The intensity of lifts is a mix of high loads and smaller loads.  70% of lifts work should be done at an intensity of 80% of the maximal lift with repetitions kept to a minimum of 3-5.  Recovery should be 3-5 minutes.  Sets of 4 should be the maximum. Training should be completed 3 times a week. 

Maintenance phase

During the maintenance phase, a small volume of resistance work is needed to keep the gains made in the previous phases.  The maintenance phase is similar to the power phase with the exception that only 70% of the volume from the power phase is needed.  Training can be done twice a week.

To support this type of training, stretching must be done after sessions and on recovery days.  A balanced diet with adequate protein must be followed.

Keywords and their meanings

Repetitions:  The number of times an exercise is lifted or completed.

Set:  This is made up of lifts or repetitions of an exercise.

Recovery:  The amount of minutes rest between a set.