Nine Exercises For Sprinters!

The basic idea of these exercises is simple. Explode off the ground, and then once your feet touch, explode again spending minimal amounts of time on the ground.

About The Author

Name: Tom Green.
Residence: U.S. Olympic Training Center, San Diego, Ca.
Sport: Track and Field.
College: University of South Dakota (97'-02')
Events: 100 and 200-meter dashes.
Personal Best: 10.10/20.77.
Accomplishments: 8-time All-American, 7th in the 100-meter dash at the 2002 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, member of 2002 World Cup 4x100, 2002 NACAC U-25 gold and silver medallist, 2002 Drake Relays 100-meter champion, both state and University of South Dakota athlete of the year titles, six school records (three all time state records).
Goals: Becoming a member of the 2004/2008 Olympic teams in the 100-meter dash and 4x100 relay. To threaten the current 100 meter world record.

The following is a list of nine exercises I use to help develop my central nervous system (CNS) and explosiveness. During sprinting, it is obviously important for me to develop these areas. Even though I use these exercises just for the 100-meter dash, they can be useful tools for any sporting event in which you want to improve.

The basic idea of these exercises is simple. Explode off the ground, and then once your foot/feet touch, explode again spending minimal amounts of time on the ground. Some of these exercises focus on how high you can go, some focus on how far you can go, and some just emphasize quickness from ground-to-ground contact.

Before doing any of these, it is important to properly warm up. Take the time to do this! Not doing so may significantly increase the risk of an injury. Whether it's minor or severe, getting hurt is the last thing that anyone needs to deal with when trying to excel in his or her sport. Taking a few extra minutes to warm up can prevent weeks or even months of battling an injury. Trust me! If you need any ideas, look at my last article.

The Program

The following is the list of nine exercises. I will explain each one in short detail with pictures of myself performing them from start to finish. Remember, each exercise is meant to be ballistic so challenge you to be as quick and powerful as possible.

  1. Tuck Jumps. (2x6)
  2. Rocket Jumps. (2x6)
  3. Lunge Jumps. (2x6)
  4. Line Hops. (2x8)
  5. Skips For Height. (3x30 meters)
  6. Skips For Distance. (3x30 meters)
  7. Straight Leg Bounds. (3x30 meters)
  8. Forward Weight Throws. (5)
  9. Overhead Weight Throws. (5)

The Exercises

1. Tuck Jumps

Larger Version

Tuck jumps are done by squatting down then exploding off the ground as high as possible. While in the air, the goal is to "tuck" your legs into your chest as high as possible before landing again. Immediately upon landing, quickly squat down and explode off again. There should be a constant and smooth transition throughout all the jumps.

2. Rocket Jumps

Larger Version

Rocket jumps are performed exactly like tuck jumps in the initial exploding phase. Except this time, the point is to get a full stretch from the tips of your fingers to your toes. While in air, your body will look like a straight line. Immediately upon landing, quickly squat down and explode off again.

3. Lunge Jumps

Larger Version

Lunge jumps are done by beginning in the "lunge" position then exploding off the ground. While in air, your legs will cycle so the front leg is behind you and the leg that was behind you is in front. The goal is to get as high as possible and to land in the lunge position with the legs that were switched in air. Then, explode off again.

4. Line Hops

Larger Version

Line hops are the quickest moving exercise out of the nine. Draw an imaginary line and stand on one side of it with your feet close together. The idea is to bounce back and forth across this "line" as quickly as possible while your feet stay close together. To keep a good balance, extend your arms out to the side.

5. Skips For Height

Larger Version

Skips for height are one of my favorites! They're simple. Using the basic skipping motion, spring up as high as possible with each skip. Really pump your arms when you explode for each skip. I do these for 30 meters, walk back and then repeat the drill.

6. Skips For Distance

Larger Version

Skips for distance are also great ones. Again using the basic skipping motion, the goal is to spring forward as far as possible. They're similar to bounding but not as strenuous on the body, so you won't get as beat up. Like the skips for height, be sure to pump the arms and use all of your leg, calf and ankle muscles. I also use 30 meters for these.

7. Straight Leg Bounds

Larger Version

Straight leg bounds are great for targeting the hamstrings and glutes. They're performed by keeping your legs as straight as possible throughout the whole exercise. To cover ground, emphasize snapping your leg down and exploding forward instead of trying to reach. Thirty meters is a good distance for these also.

8. Forward Weight Throws

Larger Version

Forward weight throws are a great overall strength and power exercise. The throw is performed by holding a shot put between your legs, squatting down and then exploding up and out while your arms rip forward to release the weight. Use a challenging weight without sacrificing technique or possible injury. The goal is to throw the weight as far as possible.

9. Overhead Weight Throws

Larger Version

Overhead weight throws are also great for your overall power output. Although the weight is thrown behind you, the execution is similar to the forward weight throws. Stand with your back facing wherever you're throwing, hold the weight between your legs, squat down, then explode up and back releasing the weight over your head. This is definitely my favorite throwing exercise! It's a good idea to keep a record of your throws and monitor your progress throughout the season.


As far as sets and reps, it is ultimately up to you and/or your coach. Throughout my season, things change so I will do either less or more depending on the circumstances. Again, these exercises are meant to be powerful and are taxing on your CNS. So as a basic guideline, less is probably better. Quality over quantity! Good luck with your training.

View Tom's Sprinter Training Program Article