In order to be successful in track, athletes should devote a considerable amount of time to lifting in the gym. Some people may not think that lifting is important for sprinters, but that is incorrect. Sprinters need to be in the gym lifting just like everyone else. This is because they can build up body muscle and strength to put onto the track. Sprinters that have more muscle, are more likely to run faster and stronger than their opponents. There are some key weightlifting exercises that are proven to be the most beneficial for sprinters. Becoming a faster sprinter means being more explosive. During a race, runners may feel like they have nothing more to give or feel like they are unable to improve on their times. In order to solve this frustration and desperation, sprinters can turn to their strength coach to give them the workouts they need to succeed.
Being explosive out of blocks is usually the main goal for a sprinter. If you are running a shorter race, coming out blocks is your ticket to running a fast race. To be more explosive out of blocks, strength coaches recommend a hang clean. This is to mimic what it would be like shooting out of the blocks during a race. The hang clean prepares the body for when athletes are holding themselves in the blocks, and anticipation for the gun to shoot. Once the athlete pulls the bar up to complete the clean, this is as if the athlete is exploding out of the blocks. This is a technical movement that requires the athlete to perform it correctly to reap the benefits. This can be done 2-3 times a week, at the weight of your choice. Some days you may want to go heavier, other days you will want to go lighter; either of which is fine.
After coming out of blocks, sprinters will enter a drive phase where they are accelerating as quickly as possible to the finish line. An athlete wants to be able to hold this phase for as long as they can to win. The front squat is the recommended exercise to work on during this drive phase. The front squat targets the butt area, and it also works on the quads, which are used by sprinters to accelerate in the drive phase. Athletes need to focus on a full range of motion and attempt to get as close to the ground as they can. The full range of motion will create stronger muscles, and muscles that can endure the race.
General upper body strength is important for sprinters to have. This is a key component of sprinting. As a sprinter, the goal is not to be bulky, but rather balanced and strong in their upper body. One exercise that is often used for the upper body is the dumbbell or barbell bench press. Sprinters should focus on pushing their spine into the bench while pushing the barbell/dumbbell into the area.
Hamstring or nordic hamstring curls are another good weightlifting exercise for sprinters to complete. This exercise will not only help athletes on the track, but it will also be a preventative exercise. It will increase the strength of the hamstring, which makes it less likely for an injury, such as pulling the muscle, to occur. The goal is to make the hamstring stronger so it will be more effective while on the track.
Another upper body workout that is beneficial for sprinters to include in their workouts is pull-ups. They are the single best upper-body workouts for sprinters to complete. Pull-ups work to target your lats, which will greater your range of motion, and work your abs at the same time. Your lats are the muscles that work to swing your arms back and forth while you run, which is very important when sprinting. The purpose of your arms when running is to counter your legs, therefore working on your lats is important. Adding a couple of sets of pull-ups into your strength workout will dramatically increase your strength, and performance on the track.
Lifting as a sprinter is very important. Without hitting the gym 1-2 times a week, can set apart sprinters from one another. It is also not just about focusing on your lower body, as sprinting is an all-around body effort. You need your upper body to be just as strong as your lower body when you are running. By putting in the extra effort at the gym, sprinters can get the results and time that they have been wanting.