Strength Training Workouts | Lower Body & Upper Body

Strength Training Workouts | Lower Body & Upper Body

Strength training is important for sprinters, both for enhancing performance as well as for preventing injury.

In this article, we will go over two workouts that you can include in your off season or general preparation phase of training, in order to increase strength in your lower and upper body.

The Workouts

Here are the two workouts that we will cover today.

Lower Body Workout Example

  • Power Clean - 8 Sets of 2-3 Reps
  • Back Squat - 6 Sets of 3-5 Reps
  • Front Rack Reverse Lunge - 3 sets of 3 Reps
  • Complex - 3 Sets
    • Staggered Kettlebell Drop Catch - 6 Reps
    • Lateral Drop Hop - 5 Reps
    • Reverse Drop Hop - 7 Reps
  • Supine Bridge Leg Raise with Kettlebell - 3 Sets of 10 Reps
  • Standing Knee Raise with Kettlebell - 3 Sets of 10 Reps
  • Single Leg Seated Calf Raise ISO - 2-3 Sets of 20-30 Seconds

Upper Body Workout Example

  • Overhead Press - 7 Sets of 3-5 Reps
      • Bent Over Rack Row - 5 Sets of 4-5 Reps
      • Hang High Pull - 3 Sets of 5 Reps
  • Muscle Snatch - 3 Sets of 6 Reps (Bar Only)
    • KB Side Bends - 2 Sets of 15 Reps
    • Bench Press - 7 Sets of 3 Reps (10 reps bar only for warm up)
    • Skull Crushers - 3 Sets of 10 Reps
    • Split Leg KB Rotations - 2 Sets of 10 Reps

    strength training workouts for athletes

    About The Lower Body Workout

    The lower body workout example shown here has a variety of goals, including:

    • Developing general strength.
    • Developing explosive strength.
    • Improving strength in a split stance.
    • Improving gluteus medius strength.
    • Improving lateral and vertical dynamic skills.
    • Increasing hip flexor strength and pelvic stability.
    • Preventing achilles tendinopathy.

    This workout starts with power cleans, as I believe that most of the explosive work should be done toward the beginning of a workout. This helps ensure that the quality of your movement is good and your force outputs are high, while also warming the body up for the pure strength work to follow. My goal here was to work on technique at the lower loads, work up to a relatively high load, and then back off and finish with a snappy set of cleans at a lower load.

    Following the cleans, back squats are performed to develop general strength throughout the whole body. When doing exercises for strength or explosive strength, I typically keep the repetitions to 5 or less, as the quality of the lift will start to fall off after the third repetition if loads are relatively high.

    While squats are great for developing bilateral pushing strength, I also incorporated the front rack reverse lunge for a couple of reasons. For one, I believe that sprinters should be strong in split leg positions, as well as strong through the lower core and pelvis. The split stance at the bottom of the movement challenges the body to stay balanced, recruiting pelvic stabilizers and leg muscles differently than in the back squat. Additionally, holding the front rack position throughout the lift helps improve the athletes ability to properly catch the bar during power cleans, a skill that I need to improve.

    To give the body a break from the high load exercises used early in the workout, I followed the reverse lunges with a complex consisting of the kettlebell drop catch, lateral drop hops, and reverse drop hops. The kettlebell drop catch helps to develop the gluteus medius, a muscle group which plays a significant role in stabilizing the pelvis during the stance phase of the running gait. Lateral hops are done to ensure that athletes can operate dynamically outside of the sagittal plane, and reverse drop hops help train the ankle for the demands of acceleration.

    To finish the workout, two hip flexor exercise variations are used to recruit both one and two joint hip flexors, as well as to help develop the anterior tissues of the lower abdominals and pelvis. Seated calf raise isometrics were also performed in an attempt to improve achilles tendon health and heal or prevent achilles tendinopathy, a common issue for sprinters.

    About The Upper Body Workout

    The lower body workout example shown here has a variety of goals, including:

    • Developing general strength.
    • Improve shoulder strength and mobility.
    • Develop muscles of the chest, shoulders, upper back and core.
    • Training while legs are too sore to sprint or lift.

    This workout started with overhead presses from a standing position. This is a great exercise for overall strength, recruiting muscles in the shoulders, arms, back, and to a smaller degree the legs. In order to eventually perform snatches, push presses, and jerks, I want to develop strength in overhead positions, and the standing overhead press is a great way to do so. I have always been much better at bench pressing than overhead pressing, so I started with overhead presses so that I could dedicate more energy to these.

    Following the overhead press, bent over row was done from the rack to target the back, posterior deltoids, and biceps. I did these from the rack so that there was a brief rest between each rep, as well as to work on rate of force development without the assistance of a stretch shortening cycle. These provide isometric strength work for the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, while requiring work to be done by the arms, upper back, and shoulders.

    Following the rows, hang high pulls were done in order to further target strength and mobility of the shoulders, as well as helping prepare the body to eventually do power snatches. I performed these with a pause between each repetition, but eventually will do these with repeated repetitions when I want target stretch shortening cycle abilities in the legs and lower back. Since I lack external shoulder rotation, I find that doing these high pulls helps me improve my mobility which will eventually be used to do power snatches. To further work on these qualities, I followed this up with light muscle snatches using only the bar, doing a slower movement to focus on muscle activation in the shoulders.

    To take a bit of a break from intense lifts, I performed kettlebell side bends. These target the obliques, a crucial muscle group for stabilizing the pelvis and torso when sprinting. Following these I performed bench press. Bench press is a great way to activate muscles in the upper body, including the chest, arms, and shoulders. I believe that the bench press can help athletes hold themselves in the set position of the block start, and help them to aggressively swing their arms during acceleration. Once bench was complete, I did some skull crushers to train my triceps & shoulder mobility, as well as split leg kettlebell rotations for my core.

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