What is the sprinter body type?
This is a popular question that I have been asked during my career as an athlete and strength coach. Today I’ll break it down for you.
Sprinter Body Type
All sports have a specific body type.
You can look at a competitive swimmer and know he/she is a swimmer based on the great width of their lats and shoulders.
I even have a client who was an NCAA Division 1 swimmer.
Although she has not competed in swimming since the 1990s, her lats and shoulders let you know that she has spent some serious time in the pool. She effortlessly walks around in a semi-permanent front lat spread pose!
You can look at a competitive bodybuilder and know he/she is a bodybuilder based on their impressive, overall muscular development and symmetry.
In the same sense you can look at a competitive basketball player and know they are a basketball player based on them typically having a longer and leaner frame.
You can look at a meathead and know they are a meathead based on them having a big chest and biceps while simultaneously having absolutely NO LEGS.
And you can look at a competitive sprinter and know they are a sprinter based on their powerful lower body development, especially in their glutes and hamstrings.
What Are The Characteristics Of The Sprinter Body?
Most sprinters (100m-400m) typically have an ectomorph body build. I have a sprinter body and fit squarely into this category.
Ectomorphs tend to be naturally leaner with narrow shoulders and hips. It would take a considerable effort for us to be considered overweight.
But on the other side of the coin we ectomorphs struggle mightily to gain muscle and strength.
This truth could feel like a hard body shot to an ectomorph. But with enough consistent work and time an ectomorph can still build a muscular and athletic physique.
Sprinters that would fit into this category would be Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, and Marion Jones.
Now there are also sprinters (mainly 100-meter sprinters) who have a mesomorph body build.
Mesomorphs tend to be naturally muscular. They can build more muscle with less effort than an ectomorph can.
Strength and muscle gains will come easier for mesomorphs. They also do not easily add fat to their frame.
Sprinters that fit into this category would be Ben Johnson, Justin Gatlin, and Shelley Ann Fraser-Pryce.
But no matter which body type you have, the sprinter body has 3 main features that make it easy to spot.
1) Powerful Glutes And Hamstrings
The stand-out feature that always gives away a sprinter is their glute and hamstring development.
Long before I ever did a hip thrust or a bulgarian split squat, I ran sprints.
I sprinted in grade school and in my senior year in high school.
My junior year in high school was the first time I started doing leg workouts in the gym for football. Up to that point my lower body workouts were sprinting, jumping, or playing basketball.
By the time I was a junior at West Chester University I had developed some decent wheels.
But I was leaving a lot of meat on the bone because my early lifting “program” was a total disaster. Bad form, lousy exercise selection, and overtraining were prevalent in my “program.”
High, tight glutes and strong hamstrings are the hallmark of the sprinter body. Some sprinters even have relatively big glutes due to a combination of genetics and lifting.
I’m not talking about the big, (and mostly fake) wobble wobble butts you might see at Magic City.
I’m talking about the big and powerful glutes you might see at the start line of a competitive 100-meter dash race.
2) Low Body Fat
Outside of elite, contest-prep bodybuilders, who train/diet to lose as much body fat as possible, sprinters are the leanest athletes on the planet.
I’ve seen sprinters who weren’t even the fastest sprinter at a track meet still possess a lean body.
While most sprinters are lean, it’s the sprinters that follow a performance diet who truly get ripped.
But even if you added 2-3 days of sprinting to your program right now, without upgrading your diet, you would get leaner over the next 4-8 weeks.
Without improving your diet, you would not maximize your results. But you would be much farther along than if you were Tammy Treadmill who lived in the “cardio” section over the same 1-2 months.
Sprinting eats body fat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You will not be able to find an athlete, who consistently sprints 3 days per week, who is not relatively lean.
3) Athletic Physique
Visually the hallmarks of an athletic physique are highly developed muscle mass and a low body fat percentage.
While having a low body fat will reveal your muscles, you cannot reveal what you do not have.
Aside from sprinting, many sprinters spend time in the weight room to get stronger and build an injury resistant body.
A side effect of slanging iron is that you build bigger muscles. It is when you are lean and muscular, that you will actually look like an athlete.
But it’s more than just the look that defines an athletic physique. Your performance matters too.
If you look like a lion, but you play like a kitty cat, you are not a real athlete.
If you look like a beast, and you play like a beast, you are an athlete. It’s that simple.
When you watch a sprinter sprint, you are watching the most beautiful, athletic poetry in motion.
The prototypical sprinter body type is the most coveted body in athletics.
By adding sprinting into your workouts, you can start to develop a leaner and more athletic body for yourself.
I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer,