How important is weight training for sprinters?

I've fallen into a debate on another forum where i'm arguing that beyond a certain point strength gains in the weight room are irrelevant to sprinting speed, and he's arguing that max power training is carried out year round for an important reason.

At the very least, beyond a right/wrong answer, i'm interested in finding out how far sprinters themselves take their weight training and how big a role it plays for them.

In.

In my experience stronger legs = more explosive sprints. But there may be a point of diminishing returns. Phone Post 3.0

Well the way you wrote out that first paragraph, you're both right. There is a point of diminishing returns as far as increasing your numbers on standard lifts.
He's also right that heavy lifts are important to maintain maximum levels of strength, fiber recruitment, etc.

Olympic lifters often have similar running speeds as sprinters for the acceration phase (first 20 yrds or so). This is due to high levels of relative strength, ie. strength to bw ratio.

Once maximal speed is reached at 40-60 yrds, thats where sprinters pull away from other athletes as the high frequency leg turnover, and other aspects of sprinting gait are too specific to the task. Phone Post 3.0

I'll agree with the last two replies.

Additionally, arm action is good for sprinting, but I'm not convinced sprinting all by itself is great at developing arm musculature.

As far as legs go you just have to ask yourself: are they getting larger? If so there will be def carryover for sure. If not, then there will definitely be a point of diminishing returns.

For Sprinters there is certianly a point of deminishing returns. You don't want maximum mass, you want the ability to generate maximum MSF (Mass Specific Force). Essentially a very good power to weight ratio.

Unless they are very underweight for some reason I train most of the sprinters I work with using the "Barry Ross" approach. (sort of PTP / "Easy Strength" fashion).

I want them to be able to generate maximum force into the ground without adding too much mass for them to carry.

Heavy Deadlifts are my go to exercise for sprinters. I use the classic low reps, + long rest intervals.

Program looks like this: (Dynamic Warm-up = 5 minutes. rest 3-5 minutes between sets).

Deadlift: 1 set of 2–3 @ 95% 1RM, followed by 1 set of 5 @ 85% 1RM. Plyometrics are performed within one minute after each set of deadlifts: box jumps of varying heights, jumping rope, or even a few short, fast 10-meter runs if space is available. First choice is two to four 10–15-meter sprints.

Core exercise: the Torture Twist, 3–5 sets of 3–5 reps (30 seconds between sets).

For upper body I most often use the Floor Press & weighted chins, using the same set + rep scheme as the DL above.

P.S. I use a "virtual 1RM" as I don't feel the need to actually test down to a true single rep.

TAKU
 

Here's a good read: http://www.fitflex.com/ben-johnson-training.html

(Ben was a freak, I don't think Usain Bolt has comparable lift poundages given his height)

ttt

http://youtu.be/hoezxK6q-3c

HefX - Well the way you wrote out that first paragraph, you're both right. There is a point of diminishing returns as far as increasing your numbers on standard lifts.
He's also right that heavy lifts are important to maintain maximum levels of strength, fiber recruitment, etc.

Olympic lifters often have similar running speeds as sprinters for the acceration phase (first 20 yrds or so). This is due to high levels of relative strength, ie. strength to bw ratio.

Once maximal speed is reached at 40-60 yrds, thats where sprinters pull away from other athletes as the high frequency leg turnover, and other aspects of sprinting gait are too specific to the task. Phone Post 3.0

Pretty much this

HERTSWENIP - Here's a good read: http://www.fitflex.com/ben-johnson-training.html

Great article. I am a huge Johnson and Francis fan.

Anyone else that liked this article should find a copy of Francis' book Speed Trap. It goes in very deep about his training, drugs and the Olympics in general. It is by far the best book I have ever read.

HefX - Well the way you wrote out that first paragraph, you're both right. There is a point of diminishing returns as far as increasing your numbers on standard lifts.
He's also right that heavy lifts are important to maintain maximum levels of strength, fiber recruitment, etc.

Olympic lifters often have similar running speeds as sprinters for the acceration phase (first 20 yrds or so). This is due to high levels of relative strength, ie. strength to bw ratio.

Once maximal speed is reached at 40-60 yrds, thats where sprinters pull away from other athletes as the high frequency leg turnover, and other aspects of sprinting gait are too specific to the task. Phone Post 3.0

Thanks for taking the time to write that out. At what point would you say the point of diminishing returns begins to really kick in? I know everyone is individual, but referencing the article about Ben Johnson that was posted above, it has him doing multiple sets of 6 x 600lbs in the squat. That's a huge amount for someone only using weight training as an aide to his sport.

Well you kind of answered your own question in a way. Point of diminishing returns means the point at which the time and effort you put into a training tactic no longer produces the results to justify that much time and effort. As you said, it can be a very individual thing.

To put it more specifically for a sprinter, once strength numbers plateau, the question is, how much lifting effort will it take to get numbers even higher? If it means the athlete has to start training like a powerlifter, then that is the point where it might be better to focus on strength maintenance while devoting your remaining resources to power conversion training, technique specific training (like working on your starts out of the block, etc.)

This really applies to all athletes. One of my pet peeves is seeing everyone training like powerlifters because of some of the popular programs out there, and being too obsessed with their numbers, rather than performance.

To summarize my long-winded reply:
If you have to start "nickle and diming" your gains with training routines that cut into your primary focus (sprinting) or require you to gain *mass to get stronger, then it is the PODR.

*Sprinters want to maximize strength/bw ratio. However, sometimes that could actually improve through gaining some mass.

Btw, 6x600 is a lot...but that was a different time. Sprinters are generally very strong and explosive...but he had access to the best vitamins. Phone Post 3.0

JH, you said "Anyone else that liked this article should find a copy of Francis' book Speed Trap. It goes in very deep about his training, drugs and the Olympics in general. It is by far the best book I have ever read." <-- Love that book. I agree it's one of the best. I am also a huge fan of Ben Johnson and Charlie Francis. I feel Ben Johnson was the greatest sprinter of his generation and was thrown under the bus in the 1988 drug debacle.

HefX,,

Good stuff brother. You've hit on the most important points. Like every sport, there is a very strong technical side to sprinting.

Ben Johnson was not only very powerful, he had awesome technique. Watch the videos of the 1988 race and see how perfect his form is compared to the other guys in the race. 

As HefX has said so well...Sprinters want to produce maximum force, while carrying the most powerful engine at it's lightest weight. Adding strength is a plus. Adding size is okay (as long as speed does not suffer).  

TAKU

ThePrinceThatWasPromised - 
jeremy hamilton - 
HERTSWENIP - Here's a good read: http://www.fitflex.com/ben-johnson-training.html

Great article. I am a huge Johnson and Francis fan.

Anyone else that liked this article should find a copy of Francis' book Speed Trap. It goes in very deep about his training, drugs and the Olympics in general. It is by far the best book I have ever read.


http://www.scribd.com/doc/65161944/Charlie-Francis-Speed-Trap


Thanks for the recommendation/link, the both of you.

HERTSWENIP - (Ben was a freak, I don't think Usain Bolt has comparable lift poundages given his height)


ben wasn't a freak. he was created. in 84 in olympic final ben at age 23 ran 10.22, henry thomas a 17 year old high school senior ran 10.27. the fastest hish schoolers in the word were only a step off of 23 year old ben



in 84 olympic final 23 year old carl lewis ran 9.99 mad thoroughly trounced 23 year old ben. 



after that is when ben got enhanced and then and only then did ben begin to beat carl. in 88 carl ran 9.92 and ben ran a ridiculous 9.79. ben never when he was clean ever ran lower than 10.2 fast, but borderline of worldclass. there were several guys who could run with him including guys running in jr worlds. clean ben johnson was nothing spectacular in the track world

ThePrinceThatWasPromised - 

That of course is if you believe Carl was ever clean

 

he was until the 90's. used to train and mingle quite a bit with the santa monica track club back during that era. carl started losing a step injuries and so on and knew that in 92 he was going to have to struggle to maintain his dominance, linford christie and leroy burrell were surpassing him. make a long story short, he crossed over to the dark side and linked up with the person who made flo jo go from a back of the pack sprinter to breaking the world record with her arms in the air a smile and no one even in distance to push her. lewis 84 and 88 times are legit. anything he ran from 1990 on are suspect. lewis 1991 world record 9.86 is bogus.

 

pharochuck - 
HERTSWENIP - (Ben was a freak, I don't think Usain Bolt has comparable lift poundages given his height)


ben wasn't a freak. he was created. in 84 in olympic final ben at age 23 ran 10.22, henry thomas a 17 year old high school senior ran 10.27. the fastest hish schoolers in the word were only a step off of 23 year old ben



in 84 olympic final 23 year old carl lewis ran 9.99 mad thoroughly trounced 23 year old ben. 



after that is when ben got enhanced and then and only then did ben begin to beat carl. in 88 carl ran 9.92 and ben ran a ridiculous 9.79. ben never when he was clean ever ran lower than 10.2 fast, but borderline of worldclass. there were several guys who could run with him including guys running in jr worlds. clean ben johnson was nothing spectacular in the track world


How many sprinters were putting up his numbers in the weight room? zhow were Carl's numbers in the weight room? Do you think the average sprinter can put him his numbers in the weight room?

Examples, please!

Ben had numbers in the weight room comparable to elite powerlifters, and he was a sprinter! Doing that while being one of the fastest men on the planet, roids or not, is nothing short of amazing.

Lifting heavy weights wasn't his priority. If Carl's weightroom numbers blew past ben's, do share.

PS-What makes you so certain Carl wasn't using AAS?