Along with its incredible speed, sprinters are recognized for their impressive physique, low percentages of body fat and large muscles. Sprinters need to be well defined, since loading an excess of fat mass can have a big negative impact on speed, notes Marc Perry, strength trainer and owner of Built Lean. To get definition, sprinters eat a well-balanced diet and perform a mix of strength training and high-intensity cardio.
It all starts in the weight room
Weight training is essential in the training of a sprinter because it builds explosive power and burns fat. Weight training revolves mainly around power uprisings and Olympic uprisings. Snatches, clean and jerks, high pulls, clean cleats, front and back squats, overhead presses and pull-ups ) are key for sprinters. They may not compete in uprising events, but sprinters are recognized for their strength in those uprisings. Compared to long and medium distance runners, there is much more emphasis on lifting in a routine based on sprinting. Expect to see two or three strength-training sessions for the entire body per week.
Continue on the track
You may be unable to sustain a race at full speed for long, but the high-speed race has a much greater impact on your metabolism than steady-state cardio like jogging. A typical speed race program mixes distances of between 20 and 600 meters, according to athletic trainer Brian Mackenzie. Although those distances may not be long, a speed race program will create significant weight losses, notes coach Erick Minor. The greater the intensity of your cardio, the more fat you metabolize, adds nutritional scientist Layne Norton; and cardio is never much more intense than speed racing.
And cooking plays a role, too
Sprinters eat a diet high in protein, with approximately 60 percent of calories coming from protein. The meals are based around low-fat protein sources, such as chicken breast, lean beef and fish, and about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day is the goal, notes elite runner Steven Benedict. Since speed racing is a short-term activity, you will not need as many carbohydrates to boost performance as a resistance runner would, so 30 percent must come from carbohydrates in the form of fruits and vegetables and the remaining 10 percent of healthy fats such as oil and almond butter, adds Benedict.
Elite runner versus normal person
Elite sprinters train for several hours each day and live the life of a professional athlete. Although you can aspire to have your physical, with a daily job, a family and other commitments, maybe you could not get to be as defined as the best sprinters. Genetics also plays a role, notes Minor. The best sprinters come up because of their work ethic, but also because they have good genes that predispose them to higher levels of muscle mass and lower levels of body fat.