Strength Endurance Training For Sprinters & Jumpers
While general aerobic fitness is important for sprinters, what we need more is the ability to repeatedly apply force & power to the ground as fatigue accumulates. Because of this, strength endurance in dynamic movements is an important training consideration for sprinters. Here we will discuss one method for developing strength endurance in sprinters and jumpers.
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Endurance Requirements For Sprinters
In the sprint events, endurance demands mostly relate to the ability to keep producing force and power at high velocities as fatigue accumulates. Aerobic endurance is beneficial from a general standpoint, but aerobic fitness does not play a major role in how one performs in the 100 meter dash.
Speed endurance is the most important endurance quality for the short sprint events, which is essentially the ability to minimize deceleration and maintain technique as the body becomes fatigued. Improving the ATP-Creatine Phosphate and Glycolytic energy systems are central in improving endurance for sprinters.
For longer sprint events, glycolytic and aerobic endurance are more important, with the 400 meter dash having the greatest requirements for aerobic and glycolytic endurance.
Developing Endurance For Sprinters
As the season approaches, sprint training will incorporate more speed endurance and special endurance training, proportional to the demands of the event. A 100 meter dash sprinter may work more on short speed endurance, while a long sprinter may use more long speed endurance as well as special endurance training.
Because these forms of training are so intense, it is wise to avoid doing this training year-round. We want to make sure that the athlete stays healthy, motivated, and that the body can be given the appropriate stimulus at the appropriate time.
After studying the training methods of Tony Wells, other coaches, and through experience, I believe the proper progression of endurance training for the short sprints would be:
- Develop general aerobic qualities using tempo runs between 50% and 70% intensities.
- Develop strength endurance and power endurance using extensive bounding or sprint drills done over long distances.
- Develop short speed endurance using sprints between 70m and 120m.
- Develop long speed endurance using distances of 150m or greater.
Strength Endurance Training
To bridge the gap between the development of general aerobic qualities and specific sprint endurance, strength endurance training can be used. This form of training will improve the abilities of the ATP-CP and glycolytic energy systems, improve the ability to produce force under fatigue, improve elasticity, and widen the athlete's coordination abilities.
How Is Strength Endurance Developed?
To develop strength endurance for sprinters, athletes can perform bounding exercises and specific sprint drills over relatively long distances. These workouts should be performed with some form of resistance, such as the Exer-Genie, a Weight Vest, or by performing these on a hill.
An example session for an advanced athlete could be designed as such:
- 4x80m Alternate Leg Bounds
- 4x80m Straight Leg Bounds
- Walk back rest between reps, 6-10 minutes between sets.
An example session for a beginner or intermediate athlete could consist of:
- 3x70m High Knee Run
- 3x70m Skips For Height
- 3x70m Skips For Distance
- Walk back rest between reps, 5-10 minutes between sets.
The goal is to challenge the body with movements that are relevant for sprinting, which target muscle groups important to sprinting, and to perform these exercises over durations or distances that are related to the demands of the sprint.
For a 100 meter dash sprinter, the goal would be to eventually get to doing 9 sets for 90 meters or 9 seconds of output. Once the athlete is competent at this workload, moving on to speed endurance training would be warranted.
Other Considerations For Strength Endurance Training
One important factor to consider with this is that the exercise selection must match the abilities of the athlete. An athlete who cannot bound past 10 meters has no business attempting to bound for 90 meters. This athlete would be better served by doing high knee runs, a-skips, skips for height, or other exercises that they can perform while maintaining proper technique.
Also, this work should be performed when the athlete is well recovered and with no tissue injuries. Because both the intensities and fatigue are high in this form of training, we want to make sure the athlete can perform the work while staying healthy.