In my opinion, most hurdlers focus too much on speed development and often overlook technique development over the hurdles. Your general fitness preparation and endurance workouts on the track should be sufficient to develop your speed.
However, all the speed in the world won't help you if you are "slow over the hurdle." So, all of my hurdle workouts, whether for speed or strength, are focused on improving my quickness over the hurdle and sprint mechanics between the hurdles.
I have outlined a few of my favorite high hurdle and 400-meter hurdle workouts that I use to prepare for race day.
High Hurdle Training
5 Step Drill
- This is my favorite workout. I use this drill to warm up and also as a workout.
- To condition the athlete.
- To be used as a warm-up.
- To re-enforce timing and tempo.
The hurdles should be placed at normal distance and normal height. The workout is determined by two factors:
- The Time Of Year. Fall workouts or conditioning workouts should build a solid base of strength for the hurdler. My personal goal has always been to complete 10 intervals (for a total of 100 individual flights of hurdles).
- Competition Season. I use this as a buffer to speed work. During this time of year, the drill is mostly for reconditioning of the slower larger muscles and for rhythm and pace.
Remember: when your body gets tired, your form will start to deteriorate. So, concentrate on your technique and stay tall over the hurdles.
Two additional variations of the 5 step drill as a workout exist, Fast Tops and Fast Middles.
Version A - Fast Tops
- While the set up is the same in all of the 5-step drill training routines, the hurdler in this drill is to only concentrate on his quickness and technique over the "top" of the hurdles. It is important that you learn to accelerate your technique while in flight. Being able to accelerate during flight will condition you to not rely on making a strategic move or race surge only on the ground.
Approach the hurdle at a jogging pace. At your final step into the hurdle, a hard transition or acceleration must take place. Arms, legs, hips and each motion associated with hurdling become intensified and quick. After snapping the trail-leg down quickly, the exercise is concluded and a jog is resumed until you approach the next hurdle.
Version B - Fast Middles
- As above the hurdler is to break up his rhythm by concentrating on different parts of the race. In Fast Middles, the hurdler relaxes over the hurdles while in flight and intensifies his run into the next hurdle once landing his trail-leg (basically, the opposite of Fast Tops).
The benefit of Fast Middles is to teach acceleration in between the hurdles and overcoming rhythm problems during a race. The hurdler must concentrate on the pumping of the arms and the driving of the knees while during this drill. However, it is important that the hurdler monitors his rate of acceleration and still fits the prescribed five steps in between each hurdle.
In early season, it is good to have constant movement between each flight and set of hurdles to help build endurance. A slow jog back to the beginning is recommended. In fact, I take no more than 2 minutes recovery for the first 5 sets and no more than 3-4 minutes for the final five sets.
12 Hurdle Drill
- This hurdle is a speed and endurance drill that will help you maintain perfect form while running near top speed.
- To condition the athlete.
- To develop speed AND endurance while sprinting over the hurdle
- To reinforce technique and form while the body is under stress
- Whenever I sprint over the hurdles, I always put the hurdles at 8 1/2 meters apart (that's about 9.3 yards or 27 feet 9 inches roughly). I do this so I can focus SOLELY on my flight over the hurdle and not worry so much about my cadence.
In addition, putting the hurdles closer forces you to move your feet quicker in order to avoid crashing into the hurdle.
Setup 12 hurdles at the distance described above.
- Using the blocks and running at roughly 75 - 80%, run over the hurdles aggressively while focusing on your form. There is no time associated with this but you should feel like you're almost at race pace.
Your walk back to the starting blocks is your recovery (no more than 2 minutes). If you're like me, you will find that you will feel the fatigue most over the last 4 hurdles (remember, you're running 12 ...).
After a couple of weeks, you will be comfortable enough with this workout to start adding additional sets. The minimum goal for me in this workout is 4 sets (for a total of 48 individual hurdles) at the beginning of the season and 8 - 10 sets (for a total of around 100 hurdles) at the end of the season.
Intermediate Hurdle Training
1) To condition the athlete.
2) To develop rhythm and endurance while sprinting over the hurdle
I have a confession to make. The 400 hurdles SCARE me. No matter how I train, I know that I am going to "die" over the last 3 hurdles. Plus, because I come from a high hurdling background, I always go out hard in the intermediates (as if I were running the 200). So, all of my training this year will be geared toward me running a fast 200 and maintaining my form over the last 4 hurdles.
Here are some typical 400-meter hurdle workouts. The times are based on my expected performance. Obviously, you should alter the times to match your target performances
- 6 x 3 hurdles into the curve, 3 x 200m hurdles, 1 x 150 meters;
- 1 x 500m, 1 x 320m, 1 x 200m;
- 3 x 600m - (slow 400-finish fast 200) (70-28)
- 3 x 300 - (38, 35 - 37)
- Step down 200's - (for example 30-28-26) with a quick 200 jog between
- 4 x 3 hurdles into the curve - 2 or 3 x 300 hurdles
- 4 x 3 hurdles into the curve - 2 x 400 with hurdles in the last 200.