Linford Christie's Training Philosophy

I got talking to Linford Christie and about some of his training methods and picked up some things y’all might like to discuss:

We didn’t get into much detail but his program is generally based on a lot of conditioning (i see him and his athletes doing a lot of plyos and circuits) and around short recovery runs. I’m a 400m runner and he told me he had his 400m athletes typically do sessions like 4x400m off 6min rec. or 10x200m off 30s recovery, and went on to say he never gives any of his athletes more then 15mins recovery (8 during winter) even between max effort runs.

With his 100/200 guys the sessions may be short though: 2x200m in around 20.2s with 15mins rec. was an example he gave me. But then he also has these athletes running 300’s in 36s range.

For speed endurance he also uses back-to-backs, which he described as something like an 11s sprint, turn around, 10s sprint back, or sprints off walk back recoveries.

I don’t know how these sessions are laid out or periodised.

Regarding weights they are always done immediately before speed work. He places a lot of importance on the weights session. I told him the reason i do weights after speed work was because sprint work was the priority and that way i can adjust the weights session depending on how stressful the sprint work because weights are less important. He, to the contrary, places more emphasis on the weights. His whole philosophy on speed development seems to be to get faster, get stronger. He told me they do weights 1st, then come out and do block work and the preceding weights session teaches them to sprint. I asked him how he managed the sprint to avoid injury and this is where i learned the most interesting things about his training.

  1. They never go out past 30m in training!! :eek:
  2. The furthest the will run at max speed would be 60m split into 20m zones, hard-easy-hard or easy-hard-easy.

So his system is reliant on racing yourself into shape. I put it to him that he trains his athletes to get fit and races his athlete to get them into shape and he agreed with that statement. He told me he is happy for an athlete to open with 10.20 and race themselves down to 10.00. The development, he says, comes from the strength they have built up over winter being converted to speed as they race them selves into shape with the above parameters for the speed sessions being applied.

Also, going back to the use of “intensive tempo”(?) in the program, he quotes Clyde Hart as this work being all about putting “money in the bank!” Off season training is all about putting money in the bank before they withdraw it all during the outdoor season when the sessions are mostly speed work, hence the high amounts of circuits and short recovery work during winter. He likes to call it strength endurance.

That is about all we discussed as he was leaving and i was heading into the gym.


Did you ask if you could join his group?! :wink:

Does anyone know what type of intensity the 4 X 400 or 10 X 200s are at? Thanks for sharing that.

Well for a 50.00 runner he said <59s for the 400’s so you can do the math. Not sure about the 200’s but i think they are at a different intensity.

Whilst i remember, another thing he said to me is he doesn’t think it is required to train max speed all year round. He said you reach a point (in a fairly short time) where your speed plateaus and you can’t get faster and for this reason you don’t need to continue speed sessions. Instead he takes his athletes away from speed and puts more emphasis on plyo’s and strength work (max strength, power, and strength endurance), the building blocks of speed if you will, and then returns to a higher volume of speed sessions in the plan. I’m really not sure how far away he takes his athletes from speed, he said he keeps them in touch, but i get the feeling he may do nothing >95% for some time.

Hah! if i was still at uni i would ask him, he has a few groups he trains/works with i think, but now i’m working full time i couldn’t fit it into my schedule. I do see him most Saturdays though so i will take advantage and continue to press him for information/advice.

another session they tend to use this time of year is 5x150m, 4x150m, 3x150, 2x150m, 1x150m. There is a 50m walk between reps and 250m walk between sets. Each set is intended to be quicker than the last, with the last run done in 17-18 secs for a good (10.5ish) 100m sprinter.

who is linford training now?
the " conditioning + strenght" phylosophy to build sprinters is not so peculiar in uk, however it is interesting the way he does weights_; however more infos on actual routine would be needed…at least, he recognizes that muscle fatigued via weight training before are at a risk performing speed training, and relies the most, as it seems, on acceleration training…

Early season: cleans 10,8,6. Bench 10,8,6. Squat: 10,10,10. Then General work - maybe shoulder circuit. Abs between sets.

Cleans and Bench then drop down to 8,6,4 then, 6,5,4 then 5,4,2 then 4,3,2. squats do similar thing ending up in 5,5,5. Squats are only to around 90degrees although L was taking then to below parallell when he was competing (Getting up to 320kg for 5, before deciding that is was getting silly).

Blocks aren’t started after weights until april when the volume in the gym is much lower.

320kg, 705 pounds for 5 reps? That doesn’t sound right.

2 consecutive days???or was it thursday
so the schedule could be…
Monday: w+ starts
Tu: plyos + med ball
wed: conditioning
th: w+ starts
fr:plyos+ med bnall
sat: conditioning
sun rest

Could that be??again…who is he training??

Sorry, Mon/Wed. The sched. wasn’t that formalized. Rest was saturday, endurance work (Eg: [300,200,100]x2 first set being tempo, second being a higher intensity and later speed end followed by a longer endurance rep), mon/wed weights and other related strength work(Could be anything that took his fancy from pulling tyres to plyo’s to pushing hurdle trolleys - or even 1 armed chin-up and depletion dip competitions), tues/thurs speed end. friday circuits and/or tempo (diagonals, 150’s or a base 50 shuttle circuit).

This is roughly what was going on just prior to the compeditive season, but the group did huge volumes of endurance work in the lead up to that. Linford himself used to drag that enormous frame of his up to 800m for some reps and would often do winters with the 400m guys.

TJ - Seen it with my own eyes.

Come on. Didn’t you know that 80kg sprinters are the strongest squatters in the world…

in case of linford at the end of his career, 94 kilos…
more…was a parallel or higher , so not impossible…I saw an old tape , 91 0r 92, and hoisted fast 5s slightly above parallel but deeper than 90 degrees with alarming speed, seemed like 220ks or more…but with real speed…( his coach on the tape said he became much stronger…)

Linford coaches Christian, but Christian does not follow Linford’s weights programme

I don’t mean to be a smart alek, I just would really like to see that.

I find Linford’s ideas of having a speed plateau where speed will no longer help very interesting. I feel the same way (special strength often is of more use that straight sprint work).

My question is, while observing this speed plateau, what else is it done at the same time? I can see many parameters, which could lead to the plateau/lack of further speed development he is talking about.

Of course, we should always keep in mind that this is just a forum chat and the full version of the plan is lacking!

One of Linfords training cycles, many years ago looked like this;

Mon; a.m weights ____ Hurdle bounds p.m
Tue; a.m Aerobic circuit __3x30 sec sprints p.m
Wed; a.m Weights ___ Hurdle bounds p.m
Thur; a.m Aerobic circuit ___10 x 100m ** p.m
Fri; a.m Weights ___ 1500m run p.m
Sat; Block starts
Sun; 200m reps (I forgot how many)

The 100m runs were all under 11 seconds with walk back recovery (thursday afternoons.)

The 3 x 30 sec sprints were to get faster time for each run, i/e the third 30 sec sprint at a fsater time than the first rep.
It would be easier to motivate yourself this way, when u get the last rep done at the fastest pace becuase you know it’s the last rep.

He would also drag a tractor tyre that weighed up to 50kg, on the home straight - for what distance I don’t know.

The above cycle was done pre-season, around April-May, during early 90’s.

His circuit work that he often did with Colin Jackson included push ups, “knee ups” (curl ups-abs), free squats, chair dips, callasthenics type stuff. Also, Colin did “alternating leg squat thrusts” so I think Linford probably did them aswell.

The weights at this time were done in a circuit fashion. Move on to the next exercise and so on, before repeating the circuit.

At that time the following weights exercises were used;

Bench Press
Power clean
Military press
Two arm bent over row
Upright rows
Arm drives (dumbells)
Side lat raises
Forward Lat raises.

He regularly performed 300-500 crunches to finish his strength sesson.

He also did bodyweight step ups, I think at a lower depth to keep speed of movement, more as a fitness exercise.

Not all of his squats were 90 degrees.
At that time the Friday morning squats were Full deep squats for fast sets of 10 reps.

The Monday and wednesday squats were half squats,
Mondays reps;
5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 (5 sets- descending rep number - increasing weight each set.)

Wednesdays reps;
3 x 7 reps on the weights work.

Friday reps;
“Fast sets of 10 reps.”

On Monday and wednesday afternoons he did bounds over high hurdles.
7 high hurdles were placed apart and he would bound over them. I don’t know how many sets of 7 jumps were done.

The heaviest bodyweight I have heard Linford mention was he said he went up to 15 and a half stones (215-217 pounds) in the winters of the 90’s periods. (mainly 92/93 onwards.)

He was 6 foot 2 and half inches tall. 6ft 2.5 in".

What a machine, that’s a pretty intense routine. I suppose 320kg X 5 squat is possible at 94kg off season, but still, that’s very very impressive. Pretty much an equivalent to Ben’s squat. Too bad sprinters don’t record more of there training and put in on there websites, I think it would go off really well with fans and other aspiring athletes.

Picture I found.

From one or two things in that photo, i’m guessing that was taken in Sydney in early '05 where linford would be 44 - 45 years old …

I remember Him performing power cleans on an old video…and his hurdle hope were amazing

320kg!!! :eek: Sheesh! I used to think I trained hard when I was in University but everytime I hear about the pros’ training I realize I was just scratching the surface.