For many years now, endurance athletes have included resistance training
exercises in their programs to boost strength and power, Seb Coe being
one of the first in athletics!
Many scientific studies have linked resistance training with a reduced rate
of injury in athletes. Strengthening leg & core muscles fixes ‘weak links’
in athletes’ bodies, who can often be susceptible to injuries to hamstring,
shins, abdominal and low-back muscles.
Resistance work also improves tendon and ligament strength and helps
with increasing bone density, which in turn decreases the risk of injury. In
addition, resistance workouts also does the following:
• Heighten body awareness
• Improve coordination to aid intrinsic actions
• Reduce body-fat levels
• Create confidence and improve self esteem
All of these as a result of strength training programs in methods such as
circuit training helps to improve performance during competition.
For athletes, the general preparation period before the beginning of actual
competitions is an ideal time to initiate a resistance training program. A
four to eight-week period of sound resistance training helps to develop a
nice foundation of suppleness (mobility), strength, and stamina
(endurance), to which athletes can add speed and racing skill just before
the competitive season begins. Exercises during this period can be
referred to as GPE (General preparatory exercise).
So ‘Circuit training’ is an excellent way to simultaneously build strength
and stamina, and GPE is a key part of any annual plan or periodization
models. I promote this in my book ‘ Sprinting: Training, Techniques &
The total number of circuits performed during your training session can
vary and will depend on 3 things in the main.
1. Where you train: Location, space and equipment available.
2. Your training level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced). And
your period of training (preparation or competition).. Your primary training objective or Goal. (You may be
developing total work capacity, boosting your power, or engaging
in “active rest”, for example.)
The following circuit is divided into 8 exercise stations/items that will
benefit 4 body areas along with progression ideas and also an analysis of
how it helps the sprint athlete.
The 8 exercises in your circuit:
1. Total-body exercise: Four-count squat thrusts (progression with pair dumb bells)
2. Upper-body exercise: Push-ups (on Bosu up turned)
3. Lower-body exercise: Scissor step-ups (higher step height or with foot speed resistors)
4. Core/trunk exercise: Abdominal sit-backs ( with med ball)
5. Total-body exercise: Squats to presses (add dumb bells or do on Bosu )
6. Upper-body exercise: Body-weight rows (on TRX )
7. Lower-body exercise: One-leg squats (on TRX or Bosu)
8. Core/trunk exercise: Low-back stabilisers (prone on bench/Bosu or swiss ball)
Analysis: including highlighting benefits for sprint athletes
Develops strength and mobility in your knee and hip joints – important for high-speed movement. Develops stability and strength in the upper trunk, abdominal, and pelvic regions, strength that is necessary to control torso movements during the running stride or when you strike a ball for example. Greatly increases your cardiac demand, pumps up the power of your leg muscles, and increases the impact forces (upon landing) as well, benefiting the bones in your legs and feet. Block start mechanics
Increases upper-body strength, developing abdominal and hip-flexor stability. Improves stability, helps to control hip, trunk, and shoulder movements as you move quickly. Also promotes balance between the upper and lower body. Block start mechanics
Develops leg strength, power, and dynamic-balance control (coordination), without which you can’t move quickly, whether it’s from one end of the football pitch to the other, from the baseline to the net on a tennis court, or from the start to the finish of a 10k race. Cardiovascular benefits of this exercise can be increased by speeding up your stepping cadence or by increasing the height of the step. Enhances leg-muscle power and improves mobility of the hip and knee joints. Drive and acceleration
Increases abdominal stability, which carries over to improved posture and better core stability as you run. A strong pelvic girdle and trunk provide the anchor point for a strong pair of legs, allowing you to use your legs in a maximally powerful manner during quick sprints – or during sustained, vigorous running. Max velocity and maintenance form
Increases strength and power in your legs, hips, low back, abdominals, shoulders, and arms. Note that the whole-body involvement of this exercise increases your cardiorespiratory requirements, compared to the more commonly used, isolated pressing exercises such as bench and shoulder presses. Block start strength and power
Improves pulling strength of the upper-back, shoulder, and arm muscles, and does for the back side of the body what the push-up does for the front side. Also serves to increase stabilizing strength in the low back, gluteals, and hamstrings, all of which are critically important for quick movement whenever you participate in your sport. You’ll achieve a balance between lower and upper body strength by performing this exercise. Arm drive mechanics for balance and power
Develops muscle strength in the. quads, hamstrings, and gluteals, the muscles which provide much of your power while running. By strengthening your hip and knee joints in a coordinated and integrated fashion, your leg strength and running power should improve tremendously. It can also help you improve your vertical jumping ability. Unilateral/ Bi andcontralateral leg strength
Heightens low-back strength providing for proper posture while running and also provides excellent ‘motion control’ of the torso and hips throughout the running stride. As a result, you’ll move more quickly – whether it’s to return a serve on the tennis court or to reach the football in time to score a goal. Running tall benefits and support base for hip and pelvicmuscles (glutes, hip flexors and extensors)
Remember that to create improvements in your body’s muscular systems, overload is important. Using circuit training is just one method, but because the training is generally in motion, it goes a long way in getting your body ready to perform to it’s best!