Critique my program


Assumptions: Experienced and technically sound lifter

Training Phases

Will need adapting to objectives and competitive calendar




Core Exercises

  1. Squat Variations
  2. Olympic Lift Variations

· Specific to muscles used in sprinting (hip, knee and ankle extensors)
· Large muscle mass, multi joint exercises
· Improve motor control hence increasing ‘organism’ strength
· Provide high stimulus to ‘core’ (spinal flexors and extensors)
· Maximise hormonal (T & GH) response
· OLs permit ‘compensatory acceleration’ (i.e. velocity increases as joints extend)


· Predominantly doubles and triples
· Reduces deterioration in technique
· Maximises transition of type IIa to type IIb fibres (fast to faster)
· Minimises non-functional hypertrophy and maximises power to weight ratio
· Maximises improvements in motor control hence reducing Golgi Tendon Organ and antagonist inhibition
· Reduces variations in rest between reps hence permitting more accurate analysis of progression


· Short cycles to reduce staleness
· ‘Oscillate twice within each macrocycle
· Two ‘impact’ weeks per cycle
· Low intensity (unloading) weeks follow impact weeks to prevent over-reaching

e.g. (Percentages are guidelines and will need adapting)

1^ 6 70 3
2 6 75
3 6 80
4* 3 85
5^ 6 80 2
6 6 85
7 6 90
8* 3 95

  • Impact weeks
    ^ Unloading weeks

Tonnage (Volume x Load)

· Decreases across training phases due to exercise prescription and session frequency
· Increase within macrocyle

Frequency (Sessions per week)

Prep: 3 to 4
Trans: 2 to 3
Comp: 1 or 2

Exercise Periodization




From prep to comp:
· Velocity (specificity) increases
· Loading (CNS stress) decreases

· Pull variations are used 1 session in 3 for variety and additional stimulus
· Remember: Maximum force can be applied with a sub-maximal weight by increasing the acceleration of the barbell (f=ma)

Remedial Exercises (for target muscle groups)

  1. Hamstrings: Hyper; Single leg hyper; Gleut-Ham raise; Pillars; Single leg pillars
  2. Hip/Spinal Flexors: Crunches; Sit ups; Leg raises etc

1 exercise from each; 8 repetitions; 4 sets

Other exercise modes

  1. Plyometrics (SSC)
    · Reduce Golgi Tendon Inhibition
    · Increase RFD
    · High injury risk especially at muscle tendon juncture
    · May be paired with squats during impact weeks (Complex training)
    · Olympic lifts have a plyometric component (the double knee bend)
    · Sprinting itself is plyometric

  2. Medicine ball (overhead) throws
    · Improve ‘Rate of Force Development’ (RFD)
    · Low stress therefore may be used during competitive period (when strength workouts diminish)
    · May be used in low volume prior to track sessions to ‘prime’ nervous system

Issues / Discussion points

  1. General Vs Specific programmes

· I define a strength exercise as one that permits a maximal expression of strength
· ‘Specific’ exercises (e.g. single leg squats) reduce stability hence inhibiting the expression of strength

  1. Pressing

Most elite sprinters perform presses (usually bench).

· Olympic lifts and medicine ball throws provide sufficient (and more specific) stimulus for the upper body

· Pressing may lead to an increase in none functional muscle mass hence reducing power to weight ratio
· Supine pressing provides little stimulus to the ‘core’
· Pressing may reduce adaptation energy available for other training parameters

  1. Accommodated resistance (Bands) for squat training

· Increases resistance in outer range where muscle length-tension relationship and mechanical advantage make movement easier
· Increases eccentric stress
· Reduces tendency to just ‘do enough’ once through the sticking point

· However, sprinting requires an increase in acceleration as joints extend therefore isokinetic exercise may not be specific

  1. Optimal Strength (Can an athlete be too strong?)

· When increases in strength fail to yield improvements on the track
· When strength increases are achieved through an increase in body weight and hence do not increase power to weight ratio
· When training frequency required to yield a strength increase reduces recovery from track sessions
· Limit strength exercises such as squats and dead lifts have less cross over to sprinting than dynamic exercises like the Olympic lifts

Squat Depth

· Sprinting involves little knee or hip flexion therefore partial squats would appear more specific

· Squatting through full range increases activation of gluteal and hamstring muscle groups
· There is a tendency with partial squats to decrease the range as loads increase
· Full squats ensure a consistency of depth and help confidence
· Hip incline is greatest at the parallel position and hence there is a greater risk of injury to the lumbar spine
· Quarter squats can place a significant strain on the muscle tendon unit at the front of the knee

Hi David,
Just one or two questions, more than critiques.
A very well-justified program.

Remedial Exercises (for target muscle groups)

  1. Hamstrings: Hyper; Single leg hyper; Gleut-Ham raise; Pillars; Single leg pillars
  2. Hip/Spinal Flexors: Crunches; Sit ups; Leg raises etc
    1 exercise from each; 8 repetitions; 4 sets

Do you mean only 8 reps of Crunches per set?
I presume you are using a heavy weight for crunches?
Is that not too few? I have tried low reps but stopped after reading that for abs higher reps are better for inner abs and hernia prevention.
Will you use any other ab exercises?

Do you consider any single leg squatting as an auxillary exercise??

Will you combine the weight training and plyo work in the one session indoors?

Am I correct then in saying you are reccomending that there be no bench pressing or aux. Upper body exercises except Med ball work??
And there will be no Partial Squatting?

Just as a matter of interest what felxibility work will you be doing?


The abdominal / hip flexor work is loaded. Remember hip flexors are required for an efficient (fast) recovery following ground contact.

No single leg squatting unless required specifically for rehab following injury.

Plyo work (all double leg) is done in very low volume: 5 reps following each squat set during impact weeks

Yes - no partial squatting or auxillary upper body.

Re: No benching

Interesting idea. However, I think there are a couple of reasons to keep it in. First, don’t worry about non-functional hypertrophy. If you are lifting less than 6 reps and keeping the majority of your sets in the 3 rep range, it is unlikely that you will expereience any significant hypertrophy.

Secondly, the fact that benching is non-specific to sprinting is an advantage in the competition and peaking periods because it means that you can keep doing this lift at a high intensity to get CNS activation while not negatively impacting the prime movers for sprinting. I believe Charlie has said that bench presses are the exercise that you can do closest to a major competition. If you don’t train bench press, it is unlikely that you will be able to generate the CNS stimulation by throwing it in at the end (not to mention the wicked DOMS you would get with such an approach!)


sorry if this has been covered elsewhere, but can you please explain `pillars´?

Pillars: Lie on your back with feet raised onto a block or bench. Extend the hips balancing on shoulders. On t-mag there is an article by Chris T on hamstrings that has illustrations…

xlr8: I do not believe that benching helps maintain motor control. There is no evidence in the literature to support this.

What I have noticed through my weightlifting training is how specific strength gains are. Lifters can improve their clean pull without any improvement in the snatch variation.

Also I disagree that pulling movements detract from performance on the track if used close to competition. THe Jon Edwards training thread shows how he attempted 3 maximum cleans only 2 days before the greatest triple jump sequence is history…

This is the whole general vs specific arguement again. Check the thread on “classics” for all the arguements pro and con. As for Edwards, there are some fundamental differences to the sprint- particularly the need for speed end and the resultant increased volume of CNS work. It is important to check the injury stats of the gen vs specific sprint groups before drawing conclusions.
I do hope people will follow up on this, as this is a critical issue and, though success can be obtained by both methods, it is critical to understand the reasoning for both approaches.
As sprinters can be developed by training from long to short or from short to long, which weight system is the most favourable for each way and why?

The Olympic lifts are certainly more ‘specific’ than squats for sprinting in that they permit compensatory acceleration and (therefore) greater angular velocities. However, they are certainly not specific if compared to single leg quarter squats! They are still a ‘strength’ exercise in that they safely permit the maximum expression of strength. Infact they’re infinitely safer than squats and bench so your point regarding injury rate is puzzling.

What I would like to devote discussion to is whether pulling movements really do detract from sprint performance when performed close to competition. And also if faster partial lifts with lower loads ( snatch hang) are as exhausting as heavier full movements like the power clean? I now many athletes who have run pbs within 48 hours of heavy (low volume) lifting sessions. I would certainly need more evidence before I accept it as fact.

Also another controversial area for discussion is whether the squat could be dropped like Jonathon has done. Olympic lifts have little eccentric component and much lower timer under tension. They may therefore be the most efficient way of maximising motor control without increasing BW. I knnow of athletes who needed to add 3-5kg of BW in order to front squat what they could power clean.

I wouldn’t suggest that pulling movements detract close to competition, but they must be viewed carefully as part of the taper.

Originally posted by xlr8
Re: No benching
Interesting idea. However, I think there are a couple of reasons to keep it in. First, don’t worry about non-functional hypertrophy. If you are lifting less than 6 reps and keeping the majority of your sets in the 3 rep range, it is unlikely that you will expereience any significant hypertrophy.

I don’t agree with this at all - I squat only under 3 reps, and yet my legs continue to get bigger :slight_smile:

Total Volume and combine load is the more important factor. I
f you do 8 sets of 3 for squats with your legs will get bigger

8 sets is a lot.

I’d prob stay with 18 total rather than 24.


In general, keeping your reps low will not cause much hypertrophy. Take a look at the Olympic weightlifters who are able to increase their strength and stay in the same weight class year after year. You may be an exception, but on the other hand, I was talking about a sprint training protocol for weightlifting and wasn’t considering using 8(!) working sets for squats.


8 sets isn’t that much, if your doing 3 reps

80% 4x6 or 80% 8x3. Same amount of work, but the effects are profoundly different