How do you best improve on a more explosive 100M start?

Hello all. I recently ran a 60M race and basically got my ass handed to me from the 1st 20M. I’ve started training for the 100M about 6 months ago and just now understanding the form and technique involved. Aside from tire pulls (which seem to be good for the drive/acceleration phase), what drills are good to improve on that QUICK start? If this has been talked elsewhere in the forums, can you point me there?

Does it take a long time to really develop an explosive start? I used to middle-distance stuff (5K, etc.) so I’m seeing that I have to un-learn a lot of things!


First off, if you’re new to 100m training you need to concentrate on where you will take the most time off first, which is the end of the race, not the start. For the same amount of effort you could knock maybe a second off your 100m time by improving your late race endurance or a couple hundredths off your start. The best way to improve that late race endurance is to focus on general fitness such as tempo and med ball work. Even though you have a middle-distance background, this type of general fitness work is slightly different as it improves strength endurance as much as aerobic fitness. Conveniently enough, explosive medicine ball throws, in addition to improving general strength are also one of the best ways of improving starting power. So it’s a win-win. I highly recommend getting a copy of Charlie’s Key Concepts ebook. There is a section at the end on long-term planning, which covers the proper progression and emphasis of training from the beginning levels on up.

Good advice. It’s also possible you’re not a natural starter, but can run people down at the end.

As the other guys said above, you need to just use your start to set up the best race pattern possible. Everyone can’t be a starter like Ben or asafa. But to help with your start u need to get stronger. Ploys med, ball throws, isorobic block starts can all help

Thanks guys. I’ll be incorporating OH medicine ball throws for sure. And to what somebody said basically, I should work on my strengths. Have another question related to the 100M training. I tweaked by left foot from sparring (doing some MMA stuff on the side) and it hurts when I run on spikes now. So, I’m laying off that. For the time being, can I do tire pulls which also seem to help out with acceleration/drive phase in terms of keeping low? I’ve read another post on this and folks really differ on their opinions of the true benefits of resisted type training (e.g., parachutes).


One more question: What is an example tempo work-out?

This thread has an examples for both the Small and Big circuit:

Thanks Balance. Tempo means less intensity (75%).

The first 30m is the most exciting and interesting aspect of the 100m race to me…

In no particular order:

  1. Practice 30m sprints!
  2. Focus on pumping your ARMS.
  3. Get stronger with general weight lifting.
  4. Improve your strength to weight ratio.
  5. Sprint 10-30m on a slight incline hill.
  6. Use a sled (with light weight) or use the Isorbic Exerciser. (BTW, I would drop the tire pulls, but that’s just me.)
  7. Be aware of your mind and CONCENTRATE when you’re running that first 30m. Utilize legal nootropics if need be.
  8. Experiment with different starts and block setups. You should know the 3 basic block setups. You need to feel confident in your style of start.
  9. Watch over and over again videos of some of the best starters and see what you can incorporate into your starts. Ben S Johnson was the best starter the world has ever seen (he’s faster then these new guys when you factor in the new tracks/spikes) so his videos are a good start.

You have to incorporate all this over a long period of time to see results over the first 30m. The first 30m (and even the next 30m) is the hardest part of a sprint race to improve. I ran distance too, it’s easy to gain minutes in a distance race, but in sprinting it takes years and lots of practice to shave less then a second (or a bit more) off something as little as 30m.

No Problem.

Yes, basically.
Target is 65-70% playing it safe.
Limit would be 75%

mshinn99- “Does it take a long time to really develop an explosive start?”

one good homework assignment would be to watch Ben starting from 1982 Commonwealth Games 100m

then watch a few starts in 83 WC,
then 84 OG,
86 Goodwill Games, San Jose, Zurich
87 6.41 Indoor WC and the false start before it, Outdoor WC, and
88 OG in that order.

Watch the evolution of the best starter the world has ever seen.
It took him many years to get there.

Don’t bother watching 92 as his strength levels were considerably down.

Speaking of Strength levels…work on what Flash wrote about first and be patient for your strength level to catch up.

I’d suggest not to try to start like Ben Johnson unless you can squat more than 3 x your body weight.

Of course not. Good advice.

He was already one of the best starters in the world in 1982 but no where near what he was able to do in 88.

Patience is what I was preaching.

The start is determined by your ability to overcome resting inertia, which is a product of strength. That strength can be developed through a variety of methods such as calisthenics, medicine ball throws, and weightlifting, as well as explosive jumps such as standing long jumps. So as you get stronger, first through general strength training, then through more intense strength training, your starting ability will naturally improve. The key question for someone new to 100m training is where to put the emphasis when determining the distribution of training effort. Over emphasizing the start early in your training instead of late race endurance is a prescription for dismal results. Charlie was quite explicit about this, and I can attest to it from my own misguided experience years ago. As Charlie put it, start at the right of the force time curve and work your way to the left. The reason why you have to put so much effort into improving the start at the higher performance levels is because you’ve exhausted all of the other areas of improvement, and now you’re left scraping for those extra hundredths of a second.

This is very interesting discussion. I always hear football speed coaches talking about improving the start, especially the first 10 yards to make the most drop in time in the shortest time possible. However, people here are saying later phase of race is easier to make quick drops early on and start is improved later on. Of course, there are some differences with 40 yard vs. 100 meter, grass vs. track, 3 point vs. 4 point block start, no reaction vs. reaction, and turf shoes vs. spikes. However, it is a bit of surprise that its completely the opposite. Is speed endurance highly traininable? I thought speed endurance was due to mostly body structure, with longer, slender athletes with good achilles like Bolt conserving a lot of energy (of course, that also give them more top speed as well, but I thought more so with speed maintenance, as top speed can also be improved by elongating acceleration phase). Please help me get clarified by giving some nice insights.

And thanks 100M. I got some starting blocks to practice.

Now you are talking about level of athlete - beginner or explosive athlete with years under his belt (or not) and the Goal i.e. having to run a fast 40y in 3 weeks vs running a fast 100m in 3 months League Championships, etc.
Beginners have to be athletes first by getting fit.

Do you use the wrist flick cue that Charlie always advised?

Think flick the wrist, loose and quick, straight from the ground out in front of you to full extension. Try not arc with the hand but go in a straight line, like you are doing a quick jab. This solved all of my problems in starting, which were: lack of inherent quickness and lack of full extension from foot to head. Now I come out in a straight line. Works for 3 pt start too but I only put the back hand by my hip and not high up.

Many ideas expressed here are not supported by research findings. However, that doesn’t mean they are of no value.

Adaptations in one part of the F V curve do not cross over to other area of the curve.

For the untrained, other activities (strength or plyometric training) will have some effect on sprint acceleration. When the athlete is well trained, improvements in strength or plyometric training will have minimal effect on sprint acceleration.

Ground contacts are relative short in sprint running, which doesn’t allow for maximal forces to be applied. Other activities such as single leg hopping or backward running have greater ground forces than sprinting.

One solution would be to increase contact time to allow for greater ground force. Unfortunately elastic energy would be lost by increasing ground contacts in humans. Quadrupeds such as Greyhounds, have stiff rear legs which allow for greater forces to be applied to the ground. Hence faster running speeds.

When using a tow cord for overspeed ground contact times increase.

I can’t help but wonder if the advantage of having four legs would help running faster.