Muscle Group The Principle It is well understood that strength gains are specific to the groups of muscle that are being stressed. Athletes must incorporate a range different exercises to develop the range of muscles that contribute to sprinting performance (Gonyea
Muscles Proportionally Largest in Elite Sprinters Handsfield et al., 2016
Semitendinosus Rectus femoris
et al., 1986; Rogers & Evans, 1993).
The Sprinting Implication
Understanding the most important muscles for sprinting
performance will assist athletes and coaches to prioritise training of the muscle groups that are most important for sprinting success.
Percentage Greater Size in Sprinters than Non-Sprinters Figure 2: Muscles proportionally largest in sprinters compared to non-sprinters
The Evidence The current evidence suggests that the hip extensors, hip flexors and knee flexors are the most important specific strength requirement for sprinters. A comparison
The Coaching Application
between the strength of elite sprinters and the general
As strength is specific, exercises that develop the strength of
public demonstrated that sprinters tended to have overall
the hip extensors and flexors should be prioritised.
greater muscle mass than the average individual, but had proportionally even greater strength in their hip extensors, flexors and knee flexors (Handsfield et al., 2016).
The following exercises have been recommended by strength and conditioning experts for sprinters looking to build strength in these muscle groups.
Hip Extensors (esp. Semitendinosus, Gluteus maximus) Mann & Hagy (1980) demonstrated that sprinting ability
The following table provides a list of strength exercises
improved with greater hip extensor strength and this has
that may be appropriate for sprinters, the strength and
since been supported by further studies that have examined
conditioning expert advocating their use, and a video
the relationship between the two (Belli, Kyrolainen & Komi,
demonstration of how they may be performed.
2002; Young, 2006; Beardsley & Contreras, 2014). Electromyographic analysis of the sprinting action has suggested that the hamstrings may have the greatest increase
in muscle activation as running speed increases, suggesting that they may be an important driver of running velocity (Kyrolainen et al., 2005).
Hip Flexors (esp. Psoas major, Rectus femoris) The size of an athleteâ€™s psoas major has been shown to be correlated to their sprinting ability (Copaver, Hertogh & Hue, 2013) and has been shown to be an important muscle for increase stride frequency during sprinting (Dorn et al., 2012). Evidence has shown that a hip flexion program can improve 10-yard and 40-yard sprinting times (Deane et al., 2005).
Knee Flexor (Hamstring group) The hamstrings are also an important muscle group for knee flexion, which is believed to contribute to sprinting performance (Mann & Hagy, 1980), especially during the late swing and early stance phase (Jonhagen et al., 1996).
Glutes and Hamstrings
Nordic Hamstring Curl
Resisted Hip Flexion
Barbell Glute Bridge
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
Hamstrings and Glutes
Trap Bar Deadlift Jump
Lying Leg Curl