400m and 400m hurdles Strength Training
The development of strength and, particularly, power are further key elements in the armoury of a 400m runner. Therefore the work described here is the same as for sprinters. The additional endurance needed for 400m running is attained from other parts of the training regime.
This is done with a combination of weights and plyometric work.
400m Weight Training
The key to weight training for any sport is to be specific to the sport. There is no point in just getting stronger, you need to ascertain which muscles are required for your sport and where they need to be strong (shift large weights - regardless of the speed of motion) or powerful (whereby the movement must be fast as well).
Sprinting requires powerful muscle movements to propel you body along a track. However, a muscle strength must be build before the more powerful work is done.
Good exercises for sprinters include
- Squats and Squat Jumps
- Calf Raises
- Deltoid Exercises for arm drive
At the start of a winter training regime high numbers of reps should be done to build a base of strength. This would typically be something like 4 x 10 on many exercises. As the winter progresses you should increase the weight and cut the reps, maybe looking for around 3 x 6 by February (this is for a single periodised year - when you'll compete in the summer only).
The finishing touches are put to your weights by alternating high speed low weight reps for power (say 3 x 6 on a very light weight) and very heavy weight with low reps (3 x 3 on 90% of maximal lift).
Plyometric work is used to increase power. This is normally in the form body weight explosive jumping and bounding. There is much more information on this in the Strength and Mobility Drills section within running.
It is a good idea to build up the number of plyometric exercises that you do slowly over a number of weeks as they can be quite hard work and your body will take a while to get used to them.
Some drills will take more effort than others, so it is hard to generalise about exactly how far to do when you do plyometrics, start with a small distance and gradually build up the number of reps and distance covered. A rule of thumb would be to start with 2 to 3 reps of 10m and work from there.
This work can be carried out throughout the year, but you should avoid doing too much near to competitions to allow your legs to be as fresh as possible when you compete.
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