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Sprint Training Program - The Ultimate Blueprint for Speed

pages of a sprint training program on a track with a sprinter in the background
Contents

Sprinting is about more than just being fast. It is the synthesis of form, force, and endurance.

Likewise, a sprint training program is about much more than completing drills and honing sprinting technique.

It takes specific training done with the right timing, intensity, and focus to achieve top-end speed.  

As an Olympian and veteran sprints coach, Ken Harnden has created and refined sprint training plans that have been proven to get athletes across the line faster.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to build your own sprint training program using the some of the same philosophies and sprinting workouts Coach Harnden has developed for his 100m & 200m sprinters. 

infographic showing the different phases of a sprint training program

Why Not Just Use A Sprint Training Program PDF?

Despite what many websites claim, there is no one-size-fits-all plan for speed development. 

Individualization is the most important concept to consider when formulating a sprint training program. 

Sure, you can quickly search for a sprint training program pdf and get hundreds of paid and free options.

If you are going to trust your performance with any plan (even the one we're providing), it's helpful to ask a few questions:

Who wrote the plan?

Is it someone who has "studied the best coaches," or have they actually put in the time on the track and delivered tangible results?

The most successful sprinting coaches have years of first-hand experience working with different athletes that have unique strengths and weaknesses.

Experience develops the competency and wisdom required to maximize a sprinter's potential.

Who was the plan written for?

A first-year high school student will have substantially different needs than an elite college athlete. You want a program that takes into account where you are in your career and your individual abilities.

elite sprinter performing speed work on the track
College and professional sprinters can typically handle a much higher training volume than high school athletes.

Do I have the knowledge to change the plan?

This is by far the most important question to answer.

No matter how good a sprint training program is, you will need to make adjustments.

As the military strategist Helmuth von Moltke said, "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy."

In this case, the 'enemy' can be anything from a virus that knocks you out of training for two weeks, a strained hamstring, or something as common as a slight change to your track meet schedule.

Even if you stay perfectly healthy, understanding the 'why' behind each element of the plan is critical to optimal training.

Some athletes will benefit from high-volume sprint training, and others will require an approach that fosters injury prevention and recovery. 

Athletes that fall into the latter category must have the ability to prioritize and maximize their training.

As a coach or a self-coached athlete, you must balance multiple factors when designing your own sprint training plan.

Skill, training experience, recovery ability, prior injury, and lifestyle will affect the success of your program. So plan accordingly.

In the video below Coach Harnden talks about two sub-10 second sprinters he coached that required vastly different types of training and volume.

Walter Dix and Ngoni Makusha were both NCAA champions and ran similar times with vastly different training routines.

Building a Sprint Training Program

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”

Yogi Berra

Planning is everything. Disorganized, random sprint training will undoubtedly lead to random results.

Great coaches and athletes know what they need to do to perform well, and they deliberately work towards it.

There are well-thought-out reasons behind every repetition and each recovery session.

It is calculated planning and purposeful work that drives progress. 

Over his many years of training elite athletes, Coach Ken Harnden learned that identifying a finishing point and working backward to plan the phases of training is the best way to ensure a successful season. 

As you plan your season, identify your finishing goal first.

  • Do you want to improve sprint times by a specific percentage within a set timeframe?
  • Do you need to work on a specific skill such as improving your block starts?
  • Do you want to achieve peak performance at a particular time?
  • Is there a meet where you could break your personal record?  

Find your target on a calendar and formulate it in reverse from there, working back to the first day.

Watch coach Harnden talk about the importance of building the plan from the destination in the short video below.

A well designed training plan helps athletes do the things they might not enjoy, but will make them great.

Five Sprint Training Program Phases

We’re not talking about acceleration, maximum velocity, and deceleration.

The structure is divided into five phases or training blocks to formulate your own sprint training plan.

Each of the five phases should focus on distinct objectives that will progressively lead to reaching your finishing goal. 

Phase One - Training to Train

To begin sprint training, you must first build a level of fitness to handle sprint training.

In this first phase, training is basic and focused on overall fitness rather than sprint-specific work.

Progression during this phase is achieved through increasing the volume of training each week.  

The emphasis of Phase One

  • Basic training to build general strength and technique.
  • No overloading. Intensity and volume should be progressed slowly.
  • The goal is to gain enough fitness to train at a high level without causing injury. 

Phase One Sprinting Workout Week

DayWorkout TypeWorkout
MondayTempoWarm Up Wickets - 4 x 30M 8 x 250M on grass/walk 50m 3 x Plyos 2 x Med Ball Routine Lung Series Cool Down
TuesdayLow Level StairsWarm Up 8 x Stadium Stairs 5 x Half Stadium Stairs (Faster) A/B Skips Sand Walks Ab Work
WednesdayRecoveryRest
ThursdayTempoWarm Up Acceleration Complex 8 x 300M Decreasing Recovery
FridaySand or PlyometricsWarm Up 3 x Plyo Circuit Lunge Series Cool Down
SaturdayHillsWarm Up 6 x 200M Hills Lunge Series
SundayRecoveryRest
The Most Effective Online Sprinting Course. 
Explore Course

Phase Two - Event-Specific Preparation

After building general fitness in phase 1, you are ready to train specifically for sprinting. Intensity and volume are increased in this phase, and recovery becomes more active.

Plyometrics and hill work increase in volume, intensity, and/or variety, and the recovery day is active non-impact work in the pool.

The workouts in this phase are designed to prepare athletes for competition training and should remain constant throughout the season to measure progress from phase to phase.

It's also the phase where you can begin to introduce more advanced sprinting drills into the warm-up. Some examples include "the U Drill" aka "the Miami Drill" and the "Advanced 1-2-3 Drill."

These drills really target essential elements of sprinting technique such as frontside mechanics and proper ground contact.

Emphasis of Phase Two

  • The goal is to prepare the athlete for event-specific training.
  • Increase overall work by 40-50% from phase one.

Phase Two Sprinting Workout Week

DayWorkout TypeWorkout
MondaySpeed/Acceleration TempoWarm Up 4 x 50M From 120 Start 130/120/110 (Walk Back Recovery) 3 x 150/150 2 x Ab Circuit Lunge Series
TuesdayPower/Resistance Stadium StairsJog Warm Up 8 x Stadium Stairs 4 x 15 Double Hop Stadium Stairs 3 x 10 Single Hop Stadium Stairs 4 x 10 Stadium Stairs Skip Back Sand Drills Ab Circuit
WednesdayActive RecoveryPool Recovery
ThursdaySpeed/Acceleration TempoWarm Up 4 x 50M From 120 Start 3 x 140M Ins/Outs 4 x 200M 30/90 2 x Med Ball Circuit Lunge Series
FridayHillsWarm Up Sled Push/Pull Plyometrics Sand Drills Mat Jumps
SaturdayHills3 x 250M Hills 3 x 150M Hills 4 x 40M  Hills
SundayRecoveryRest
mustaqeem williams performing sprinting plyometrics during phase one
Mustaqeem Williams performing sprinting plyometrics which are crucial in a well designed 100m/200m sprint training program.

Phase Three - Speed Phase

Phase three is a speed cycle specifically designed to make you faster. In this phase, pure speed training and more intense sprint workouts replace the tempo work in the previous phases.

On the track, traditional speed work forms the core of the training plan.

Sprinting technique is practiced every day from the warm-up through the end of the workout. During phase three, efforts should be timed to measure where you are and establish goals to chase.

Emphasis of Phase Three

  • Increase speed.
  • Replace tempo work with pure speed development training.
  • Begin training block starts.

Phase Three Sprinting Workout Week

DayWorkout TypeWorkout
MondaySpeed Short Distance3 x 20 Falling Starts 3 x 20M 2-Point Starts 3 x 20M 3-Point Starts 6 x Wickets or Sleds Hip & Ab Circuit
TuesdaySpeed Longer Distance3 x 20M Falling 3 x 20M 2-Point Starts 3 x 20M 3-Point Starts 2 x 250 M Hip & Ab Circuit
WednesdayActive RecoveryPool Recovery
ThursdayTechnical Training6 x 20M Tape Drill 6 x 20M Block Start 6 x 30M Sleds Hip & Ab Circuit
FridayPlyometrics3 x 30M Speed Bounds Plyometrics
SaturdayHills Longer but Lower Intensity4 x 60/90/120M Hills
SundayRecoveryRest

Phase Four - Pre-Competition/Competition Phase

Phase Four is the pre-competition/competition phase. Preparation and planning during this phase is done in micro cycles (i.e. training for 2-4 weeks leading up to the next competition). 

Ultimately, to get the timing right, more than a week between competitions is necessary to do the training needed to improve.

In this phase, race performance is fine-tuned, nurturing strengths and adjusting faults from previous races.

Technical speed work is the focus and measuring efforts through timing, setting timing goals, and evaluating/adjusting to reach those goals.

Emphasis of Phase Four

  • Pre-competition/competition training
  • Ideally, two weeks between competitions
  • It should be tailored to each individual athlete

Phase Four Sprinting Workout 2 Weeks

DayWorkout TypeWorkout
MondayRecoveryRecovery Warm Up Core Work Lunge Series
TuesdayAthlete Specific Training4 x 40M Wickets 5 x 90M - 8 Min Recovery
WednesdayAthlete Specific Training250M/150M/150M - 10 Min Recovery Plyometrics
ThursdayAthlete Specific TrainingRecovery Warm Up Core Work Lunge Series
FridayAthlete Specific Training5 x 20M Block Start 4 x 30M Flying 6 x 30M Sleds Plyometrics
SaturdayAthlete Specific Training250M/150M/150M - 10 Min Recovery Plyometrics
SundayRecoveryRest
MondayAthlete Specific Training5 x 20M Block Start 5 x 20M Sleds Plyometrics Hip & Ab Circuit
TuesdayCompetition PrepRecovery Warm Up Core Work Lunge Series
WednesdayCompetition Prep4 x 30M Wickets 2 x 120M
ThursdayRecoveryRest
FridayCompetition PrepCompetition Preparation

Recovery Phase

Recovery is crucial to the foundation of every training cycle and should be purposefully built into every phase of your sprint training plan. At the end of each phase, a recovery week should follow.

Quality recovery is active and includes low-impact, low-volume, or low-intensity workouts.

Off the track, there must be a focus on recovery through lifestyle as well. Proper nutrition, hydration, and sleep should also be thoughtful and monitored to ensure full recovery between training sessions.

Emphasis of Recovery Phase

  • Active recovery that is consistent with the training structure
  • Hydration, nutrition, and sleep are critical

Recovery Workout Week 

DayWorkout TypeWorkout
MondaySand/Turf Recovery2 x 10M Falling Start 3 x 10M 2-Point Start 3 x 120/90/60M
TuesdayLower Intensity6 x 20M 3-Point Start 6 x 20M Sleds Plyometrics
WednesdayRecoveryPool Recovery
ThursdaySand/Turf Recovery8 x 40M Block Starts 6 x 20M Sleds
FridayPool RecoveryPool Recovery
SaturdayHills Low Intensity3 x 150/120/90M Hills
SundayRecoveryRest

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed this sprint training program guide.

The basic structure we have laid out has proven to produce substantial results when tailored to the individual.

To learn more about developing and fine-tuning an annual training plan, check out Sprinting Smarter, Speed Progression.

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22 comments on “Sprint Training Program - The Ultimate Blueprint for Speed”

  1. Great article! Love the emphasis on individualization and the 'why' behind each part of the sprint training plan. As a coach, I will definitely be incorporating these concepts into my own training programs.
    Curious what are you recommending for warm up, a skips b skips etc? How long. Thank you for sharing your insights and experience!

    1. Thanks Mark! We actually have a guide on sprinting warm-ups that will be posted soon.
      Yes, a and b skips focusing on ground contact and mechanics, straight leg bounds, dynamic stretches (leg swings, shoe sweeps), glute activation drills etc.
      In terms of how long, if you are talking about distance 20 meters. Check back in a week and you'll see it all broken down.

  2. I need the program more like what to do as 100m what to do for 200m what to do for block starts
    I hope u guys understand..
    Just make it clear cos there is some of us that's do not have like stairs advantage..

    1. It really depends on the athlete, how old they are, their response to training etc. For example, a high school sprinter that plays another sport in the fall might not start their phase 1 until Jan so it would be a bit shorter. College level sprinters might have anywhere from 8-16 weeks of phase 1 and 4-8 weeks of phase 2.
      In general, phase 1 is anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks and pre-competition or phase 2 is 4 to 8 weeks.

      1. I am 30 year old with some not much but some training experience . What could be ideal for me like 8 week each fase ?

        1. If you don't have a lot of training experience you'll want to spend a good amount of time in the general preparation phase to prepare your body and reduce the risk of injury. So at least 8 weeks and slowly build in intensity and volume. Listen to your body and keep a training journal. That will really help to inform you of when to move on to the next phase.

  3. I’ll be honest I jump from nothing to phase 4 lol been doing it for 8 weeks and I went from 12.30 to 11.40 . I feel great so should I start from phase one after I compete in the master next month ?

    1. That's some impressive gains in a short time! It's difficult to say, there are a lot of factors. Typically after the competition phase you would take some time off and do some other activities for a month or so. So yes, after the season going to phase 1 is a good idea. The stronger base you build the better your performance will be.

  4. my competition coming soon i think i have 2 month plzz suggest bi best plan for my competiton i run 100m in 11.20sec 0r 200m in 24.04 sec i am 23 year old university student from pakistan i have no coach my coach is internet i dont afford coach i start training again after 1 month rest plzz sir suggest me best i hope sir u help me

    1. Hi Keshav,
      Improving your 400m time is a holistic process that blends various training components. Starting with speed work, incorporating short sprints ranging from 60m to 150m can help you build explosive power and improve fast-twitch muscle responsiveness. Mixing these with interval training sessions, where you might run 200m and 300m at near race pace, take a brief rest, and then repeat, can elevate your lactate threshold—a crucial factor in the 400m.

      Strength is another vital component. Plyometric exercises such as box jumps can enhance power and explosiveness. Complementing plyometrics with weight training—focusing on compound movements like squats and deadlifts—can bring significant gains. Don't forget the importance of a strong core, crucial for sprinting mechanics.

      Speaking of mechanics, refining your sprinting technique can lead to more efficient energy expenditure. Improving elements like arm swing, posture, and foot strike not only conserves energy but also reduces the risk of injuries.

      Recovery, often overlooked, is paramount.The 400m is as taxing on the mind as it is on the body, so mentally prepping can make a world of difference.

      Best of luck with your training!

  5. I just started coaching youth track and field last year due to the fact that my daughters track coach moved out of town. How long would you recommend phase 1 for 8-12 year olds?

    1. Hello Vincent, Congratulations on stepping up to coach youth track and field!

      When it comes to phase 1 for sprint training for 8-12 year-olds, the primary focus should be on foundational skills, technique, and enjoyment.
      For this age group, phase 1 could last anywhere from 4-8 weeks (sometimes longer). This allows ample time to establish proper technique, posture, and basic running mechanics. However, the exact duration can be adjusted based on how quickly the athletes grasp the fundamentals.
      Establishing a training structure and proper technique early on is important but it shouldn't be the primary focus at this developmental stage, it's also about building confidence and ensuring that each session leaves them wanting to come back for more. Introducing them to the basics of sprinting through a combination of structured drills and playful activities can strike a balance between learning and having fun.
      Best of luck with your coaching journey!

  6. Thank you so much for making this guide! I'm creating a spreadsheet to track and log my workouts. I have a quick question about how the workouts of each phase are structured. In Phase 1 on Monday, for example, you write:

    "Warm Up Wickets - 4 x 30M 8 x 250M on grass/walk 50m 3 x Plyos 2 x Med Ball Routine Lung Series Cool Down"

    Would the workout for this day be as follows?
    - Warm Up Wickets (4 x 30 m)
    - Warm Up Sprint (8 x 250 m)
    - Walk (50 ms)
    - 3 Plyometric exercises
    - 2 Medicine Ball Lunge exercises
    - Cool Down

    I'm also transitioning from endurance running to sprinting. I tried doing it on my own and ended up tweaking my back. Do you have any advice on how I can incorporate my back recovery into this training plan / transition from running half-marathons to sprinting?

    Appreciate any guidance you can offer!

    1. Hey Chad, so the warm-up would be your warm-up routine. Followed by wickets, then the 250m on grass etc.
      Sorry to hear about your back injury. Transitioning from endurance to sprinting requires adjusting to different mechanics and muscle activations. First and foremost, consult a physical therapist or sports medicine specialist for personalized advice on your injury. Strengthening your core and working on range of motion drills will help, so consider exercises like planks and stretches for hip flexors, hamstrings, and glutes. Ease into sprinting, start adding short accelerations to your easy runs to introduce your body to faster speeds without the full brunt of sprinting. Emphasize proper sprinting technique; hiring a sprint coach or taking our "Sprinting Smarter, Speed Progression" course can be invaluable here. And remember, your body has been conditioned for endurance running, so be patient as it adjusts to new demands.

  7. Thank you so much for this write-up, please I want to what time of the year (month) each phase covers. Please the phases runs from what month of the year to what month. Thanks

    1. I'm glad you found the write-up helpful! The timing for each phase typically aligns with the athletic season, but it can be adjusted based on specific needs and the region's competition calendar. A general breakdown might look like this:

      Preparation Phase: Early September to mid-October.
      Event-Specific: Mid-October to December.
      Speed Phase: December - January/Feb
      Pre Comp/Competition Phase: February to late May.
      Recovery Phase: June to August.

      However, please note that this is just a general guideline. Depending on the athlete's goals, competition schedule, and specific circumstances, adjustments can be made.

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