Weight Training for the 400

How would weight training for the 400 differ from weight training for the 100? I think the first concern is that any excessive hypertrophy will be more detrimental over 400 than it will be over 100. Also, the aspect where increased strength helps the most (acceleration) is far less of a factor in the 400 than it is in the 100. Knowing this, what changes should one make to a 100 weight program for optimal results in the 4?


Its a good question. You would definitely be wanting to shorten your rest periods to hit both strength and lactic work at the same time with weights (depending on how much on track lactic work you do)
Strength endurance would be more important than max strength. As far as program I am not sure. Normally when you up the rep range and shorten the rest periods you can get into hypertrophy that can lead to non-functional hypertrophy.

Exactly. There in lies the problem. You could adress your lactic work in the weight room, but as you said, that type of training typically leads to hypertrophy which could have a negative affect on your 400 capacity. Because of this, it may be better to leave the lactic work on the track and focus on max strength in the weight room. Thoughts?

Don’t mistake lactic acid tolerance training with excessive gains in hypertrophy. For example: Back squat w/60%1RM for 20sets of 2 repetions with 30second rest intervals is lactic acid tolerance training. This type of protocol stimulates the CNS while repeatedly requiring explosive efforts for extended sets. Excessive time under tension is what, at 70-85%1RM, contributes to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy development.

Check out Christian T’s article on T-mag entitled Superman Sets. He outlines a few different schemes with respect to strength/power endurance.

A 400m runner is never going to have the same limit strength as a 100m runner. Train for your event. Identify the intensity (% of max speed)with which you as an organism are responsible to exert during a 400m race, that coupled with duration and your specific stride frequency/rate gives you the variables with which you need to work with for constructing an appropriate strength training program.
It’s all about force production and time.
James Smith

Increases in strength do have a further carryover than just acceleration i believe. I think sticking to the idea of developing general strength in the weightroom and developing specific endurance/LA tolerance is best done on the track, so weight training would look no different.

So basically numba56 you’re saying to stick with the basic OL/Squat/Aux, etc. etc. routine in the weightroom as a 400m runner and let the track work (such as SE and things) take care of the lactic work, right?

yes, I mean LA work can be done in the weight room, but then its kind of defeating the purpose of weight training which is to improve strength, notLA tolerance or endurance. I mean on off weeks you could move to a higher rep scheme or timed sets(even these are stressful on the CNS as the purpose is to do as many reps as possible in the time) in order to allow the nervous system to recover, but other than that Im not seeing any point in it, because you cant develop specific endurance and LA tolerance any better and more specific than with track work. As far as size, do your sprints lift and eat properly and let the size balance itself out.

Point well taken.

Numba56, you are correct in stating that specific LA/endurance work on the track is the optimal method. However, to limit the weight training to only CNS stimulation/max strength would be less than optimal. a 400m runner calls upon different bio-energy systems than a 10om runner.

A 100m runner relies predominantly on the phosphagen system, in contrast to a 400m runner who relies more heavily on the glycolytic/oxidative systems. Thus, weight training routines will differ.
Just as a 100m and 400m swimmer would train differently with weights.

The max strength work will be effective for the 400m runner in the sprint to the tape. In addition to max strength work, the 400m runner will also benefit from LA/strength/power endurance work in the gym.

The stride length, frequency, and %max output, differ greatly between 100m and 400m runners. Thus weight training must vary. Movements may remain the same, however loading parameters should differ.

James Smith

And how would you go about doing this LA/strength/power endurance work in the gym?

I’m interested to know as well.

I was thinking maybe 2 days of Max Strength/CNS work and then 2 days of the LA work a week?

I realize this, but the suggestion of higher amounts of repetitions was my argument. Rest times between sets and set numbers are the variables I believe in the LA training, so perhaps on track endurance days loads could be dropped and additional sets with lowered rest times performed(ie 8x3 w/ 50% w/ 30sec to 1min between sets).
4 days of weight room? Nah just lift on track days and you could do LA workouts on your endurance days.

In addition to the set/rep %1RM that Numba and I referenced in our last couple of posts (i.e., multiple sets 50-60%1RM, short rest interval) there is also the option of utilizing extended time under tension with a much lower percentage of 1RM.

I will reference a portion of the chart that Christian T illustrated in his article entitled Superman Sets:

Set variation-Long
%1RM- 20-30

of sets- 3-6

Max power-moderate
Hypertrophy- High
Muscle/power endurance- High


Set variation- Very Long
Duration- 60-90s
%1RM- 10-20

of Sets- 2-3

Max Power- Low
Hypertrophy- Low
Muscle/Power endurance- High

Christian indicated that what ever lift is used to perform the reps explosively for the duration of the set.

This is another way to perform LA/strength endurance work.
Utilize lifts such as squats/Olympic lift variations/deadlifts/etc…
James Smith

See I was thinking that too but the idea of a SE day is a CNS break and more muscular, whereas with superman sets there is still high CNS stress in the attempt of moving the weight as fast as you can for a minimum of 5sec even would be stressful, and I dont think oly lifts/deadlifts/goodmorning(and other things like this kind of movement) would be good candidates as back muscles would fatigue quickly and form would break down making the lift possibly dangerous. I think everything else would be fine for this(bench, squat, row, etc…)

Numba, true. I offered the Superman Sets example as a substitute for the other variation (50-60%1RM, multiple sets, low reps, short rest) that we both referenced. In other words, to utilize one method or the other for the CNS day.
James Smith

Ya’ll forgot about the good ol’ fashioned push up! For a 400 runner, why not do pushups, pullups, situps, and other “body weight” exercises for lactic or strength endurance? Say doing them each for a minute at a time. Or if that doesn’t hurt enough just max out on them go a little bit longer.
Pushups etc are endurance based work and in CFTS charlie repeatedly mentioned that they are best done in an endurance based maner.

I say: Work on max strength in the weight room. Use pushups & situps to develop lactic tolerance/strength endurance off of the track.

I would include bodyweight exercises for in between sets on tempo days

depletion pushups, situps, bodyweight squats, burpees etc with good cadence are all awesome for 400 runners :slight_smile:

So could a 400m runner get away with doing 2 days of heavy lifting and then do 2 days of BW endurance exercises (on endurance days) a week? Like Monday/Thursday (hard CNS days) do heavy lifting and then on endurance/tempo days (Tuesday/Friday) throw in some core work and then some BW endurance exercises like what Chris30 mentioned. What would you guys suggest as the best method for doing endurance exercises…timed or depletion?