How often should you sprint to get faster? The answer may surprise you.
Is More Better?
When it comes to training, many folks automatically assume that more is better.
I’ve heard athletes and lifters talk about training 7 days per week in order to reach their goals. This mindset, while extremely admirable, is terribly mistaken.
Let me make this very clear: you do not need to train every day.
Your true growth from your training occurs when you are recovering. But in today’s training culture, rest days are routinely overlooked.
You Must Recover
The ideal training split for getting consistent results is about 3-5 training days per week.
This assumes you are following a progressive strength/conditioning program and not just showing up at the gym to take selfies or wasting time in the “cardio” section.
Now, when it comes to sprinting, the frequency of training is even less than it is with lifting.
In terms of demand, pure speed training taxes the central nervous system (CNS) more than any other activity you can do.
Because of this fact you have to know how to create the proper balance within your training program. You have to know just how frequently you can actually perform sprint workouts.
Muscular fatigue from lifting weights is one thing. But nothing in training feels worse than being both mentally and physically depleted due to a spent CNS.
Imagine walking onto the track and feeling like you have a 100lb weighted vest strapped to your body. And then imagine the loss of confidence because you feel like a slug.
Even though you may try your hardest, you just cannot create any of the power that is necessary for speed work when your CNS is blown out.
Overall, you will feel like Superman when he is exposed to that green rock known as Kryptonite.
Performing training that taxes the central nervous system too often without adequate recovery will lead you down this dark road. You will feel as if you are in a deep malaise when this happens.
I have been in this state before, and I do everything I can to avoid it by any means necessary. This is why creating balance within your training program is so important.
How Often Should I Sprint?
To get faster I recommend that you sprint 2 or 3 days per week with 48-72 hours of recovery between speed sessions. You can still lift within that period, just no sprinting.
If increasing your speed is your top goal, you have to pay attention to what you are doing in the gym. Certain exercises pull from the CNS just like sprinting.
If you are chasing speed, you will want to temporarily avoid these exercises and training concepts:
1) Performing heavy squats and especially heavy deadlifts (over 90 percent of your max)
2) Performing max effort jumping
3) Doing lifts to the point of muscular failure
All of the things above are great in their own right, but not when speed development is your top goal. Heavy lifting, max effort jumping, and doing exercises to muscular failure all drain the CNS.
Check out this sample 2 day speed program for a 100m sprinter below:
Monday: Speed (Acceleration/Maximum Velocity)
Wednesday: Upper Body Lifting
Friday: Speed Endurance
Saturday: Lower Body Lifting
Check out this sample 3 day speed program for a 100m sprinter below:
Monday: Speed (Acceleration)
Tuesday: Lower Body Lifting
Thursday: Speed (Maximum Velocity)
Friday: Upper Body Lifting
Saturday: Speed Endurance
* All of the exercises in the lifting sessions would be in the 2-3 set range and the 6-10 rep range.
* No sets would be taken to failure. I would tell the sprinter to leave 2 reps in the tank on every single exercise.
* We would not perform conventional deadlifts, but we could do RDLs since they use lower weights than deadlifts.
As a younger sprinter, I always tried to train through the malaise. But that plan got me going nowhere fast.
As an older and smarter veteran of the track game, I know exactly when to let my foot off the gas before I drive completely off the edge.
Sprinting must be performed at the proper frequency in order to avoid feeling run down.
Less is more.
I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer,