Core strength of elite sprinters.

I’ve come across many strength training programs of elite athletes and they rarely list what was done for the abs/core. Mo Greens regime is a typical example of what I mean.
Rear dumbell fllyes - SO WHAT. Incline this - Olympic THAT. SO friggin what, becuase without good core training it’s all pants and meaningless. What do these guys do for their abs and obliques which are a dam sight more important than their rear delts or pecs and even quadraceps.
I’d be particularly interested in what Carl Lewis did for his muscular mid-torso becuase he rarely ever lifted weights and still has one of the highest top end speeds ever. What did the Santa monica track club do for core work?

Sorry for the emotional content but I’m tired of all this squats with bands versus squats without, powerclean versus kettle bells horse crap (on every Track&Field training website) becuase without a dam defined rock solid mid-section your other strength work (and deffinately your running speed) will suffer. What the top guys do? Any info appreciated, becuase it’s the most important are to condition and the least talked about. (apart from BUM fitness instructors that buy into all the gadget stuff and talk about core training.) Mind you, atleast they are talking anout the right thing.

why dont you ask on as well. ato should know.

It’s really nothing special… crunches, bridges, sit-ups, a variety of different positional stuff, sometimes medball work… pretty high reps (hundreds to even thousands of reps)…

You have to remember doing squats, powercleans, sprints, etc. works the “core” and pretty well at that.

Squats, Power Cleans, Kettlebells…

Seems like they ARE working their core.

[QUOTE=Davan]It’s really nothing special… crunches, bridges, sit-ups, a variety of different positional stuff, sometimes medball work… pretty high reps (hundreds to even thousands of reps)…

if you don’t mind me asking. why should the reps be so high?

Because low reps with heavy resistance will potentially deplete the CNS of reserves which should be reserved for high intensity sprinting and weight work.


I know what you mean, but what if a say to you:

Well, i do them on high int days as a part of weight training…

You already do it when you lift weights… what do you think stabilizes you…


Charlie advocates around 1000 reps on tempo days, 500 reps on high intensity days.

Plus, your abdominals act a stabilizers in sport so train them as such. What purpose is there in doing weight sit-ups or the like?


Charlie is a brain, but also think for yourself…

Its a question of volume and intensity. The ab work is low int with high vol.

If you would do ab work with weights and so on(which is hardly possible to get into the high int area) you should do it on hI days


What do you mean think for yourself?

Are you not using this site because you are interested in the training methods of Charlie Francis?


Why would you do it in the first place? What are you trying to do? What exercises are you doing? Do heavy squats, cleans, and other lifts not hit the abdominals? Do sprints not hit the abdominals? What about plyos and medball throws?

silencer, if I understand your concerns, may I ask how is your ab VARIETY routine? Instead of increasing the intensity in one of the ways you describe, how about trying to hit them in a completely different way? There are some suggestions in the posts above.

they arent listed in example programs as its a given that you should do them, remember all those lifts plus sprinting works the core aswell.

so dont get to caught up in it all, every top level sprinting will be doing abs, but ab workouts arent so varied like the way they do weights, so that why you wont find to much info on their exact program, the the ab program would change slightl from time to time to keep the athlete interested. so charlie has given us a general plan but use your imagination and change things as you see fit, it wont matter, as abs are abs. you jsut have to do them.


I don’t see how squats, cleans and other lifts do as much for abs as many other abs exercises. Whenever I did squats or cleans, it sure as hell wasn’t the abs/obliques/quadratus lumborum that was feeling it heavy. As for stalization, I can think of a dozen moves of the top of m head that would do more for stabilization than squats and Oly lifts. I just want to know how the sprinters have such muscular mid-sections.
A) Low bodyfat levals make their mid torsos look more muscular than mediocre athletes from other sports
B) They know how to recruit to high levals of tension, the ab muscles - even in low intensity exercises. (I need high intensity such as weighted crunch for me to feel like I’m working my abs.)
C) They are genetic mutants from Mars and they get washboard abs, super dense muscles, even from low intensity exercizes like sit ups.
D) They are doing a brilliant Mid-section training routine.
E) The best way to get the mid-torso muscularity is to work 'em atleast 5 days a weak (common practice among sprinters.)
F) Sprinting does wonders for mid-torso muscularity, something not often mentioned, or I just overlooked that aspect in the past.(I have not done much running volume to say the least, this last year.)

Which of the above, or other is closest to the mark?
(p.s, I’m tired of people giving me negative reputation point sregarding this post and I even suspect it is the same person repeating themselves. Those of you who think the power lifts suffice are wrongly miss-informed yourselves.)

What hits the stabilizers more than those lifts, sprints, and plyos? What is the role of the abdominals in those exercises?


I believe Davan to be right on the money here. I am 47 yrs. old, 5’9", 195lbs. body fat % in the neighborhood of 9.8%, back squat 1 RM 420 lbs., deadlfit 1 RM 530 lbs. and my abs are well defined and very, very visible. I do virtually ZERO direct abdominal work (only because I don’t make it a priority, I certainly advocate performing direct work). Nothing trains the abs more appropriately for sport than squatting, deadlifting, RDLs, overhead pressing from the standing position, and I find in particular good mornings. I know many of the former russian and bulgarian (Bondarchuk, Azaibijev [sp]) feel the same way. The abs work primarily to support the chest and shoulders above, or slightly in front of, the hips. The primary function of the abs is certainly not to flex the spine. Thus when training the abs directly, I feel strongly that stabilization type exercises are most appropriate. Weighted static holds on a glute-ham bench, stability ball planks, side planks, etc. are awesome and are the exercises of choice for my clients. I will perform standing “full contact twists” which work the obliques dynamically but the rectus primarily in a static fashion. Same thing with upper body russian twists. I also find supine running w/dumbbells on the glute-ham bench to be very effective.

I make the following statement with the utmost respect for Charlie. I could train people eight hours/day, read the research for another four hours/day for the next 30 years and not approach Charlie’s knowledge of training the athlete. However, I’m not sure I agree entirely with his approach to abdominal training. Specifically the notion that high reps are desireable to minimize CNS fatigue. #1) I don’t believe that a large volume of direct ab work is necessary which would make the CNS fatigue position a bit less cogent. #2) As stated previously, I prefer static to dynamic ab work. I guess by definition, however, this would be a lower CNS intensive methodology.

Think about this, if a 180 lb. athlete can squat and/or deadlift 400 plus pounds maintaining a strong neutral spine and a high chest position, that athlete is in possession of some seriously strong abdominals.

One final thought, nobody has all the answers. Nobody. So in my view it is very important to think critically and not blindly accept a viewpoint on anything regardless of the stature of the individual putting forth that opinion.


you can look at this from several directions. Yes, high strength ab work is covered by your power moves. BUT as for the low intensity stuff, what’s the real difference between it and any other low intensity work. If you need to avoid it, then wouldn’t you need to avoid all tempo type work? Or is this a stability issue?

silencer you stole my nickname