The Impact of Weight Training on Sprinting Performance: A Comprehensive Review

Sprinting is a crucial element in various sports, requiring athletes to achieve rapid acceleration and maintain high speeds over short distances. To enhance sprinting performance, many athletes incorporate weight training into their training regimens. This comprehensive review examines the effectiveness of different weight training methods on sprinting performance, with a focus on the initial 10 meters and flying starts (10-40 meters) of a sprint.

First Study: The Influence of Weight Training on Acceleration and Flying Starts

Main Findings

  • Maximal weight training demonstrated significant improvements in the initial 10 meters of a sprint, with the highest percentage improvement and effect size.

  • Athletes with backgrounds in ball sports (e.g., football, rugby, handball) tended to benefit more from weight training.

  • Combining maximal strength training with explosive weight training using light weights yielded positive results.

  • Younger athletes, particularly those under 17 years old, experienced more significant gains from weight training.

  • Athletes who were already well-trained with weights prior to the study saw less improvement.

  • Explosive weight training with light loads showed moderate improvements, especially when combined with specific sprint training or a background in ball sports.

  • Hypertrophy training, which focuses on building muscle size, did not significantly enhance sprinting performance except when power cleans were included in the regimen.

  • For flying starts, both maximal weight training and explosive weight training with light loads demonstrated effectiveness, but specific sprinting-focused training remained crucial for success.


For athletes aiming to improve acceleration (first 10 meters), maximal weight training is recommended, especially for those not extensively trained in weightlifting. Athletes involved in ball sports and younger individuals tend to benefit the most from this approach. When targeting flying starts, maximal weight training and explosive weight training with light loads can be effective, but specialized sprinting training remains integral for optimal results.

Second Study: Muscle Size and Sprinting Performance

Main Findings

  • Sprinters generally exhibit larger trunk and leg muscles compared to non-sprinters.

  • The psoas major (PM) and gluteus maximus (GM) muscles were significantly larger in sprinters, correlating with faster personal best times in 100m sprints.

  • Both the size of the PM and the relative size of the GM can predict a sprinter’s personal best time in the 100m sprint.

  • The PM plays a crucial role in hip flexion, benefiting sprinting speed.

  • The GM contributes to hip extension and trunk stabilization, enhancing sprint acceleration and maintaining proper posture.

  • Despite its importance in sprinting mechanics, the size of the hamstring (HAM) muscle did not significantly correlate with sprint performance.

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The psoas major and gluteus maximus muscles are key determinants of superior sprinting performance, with the size of these muscles strongly associated with faster sprint times. While the hamstring muscle plays a role in sprinting, its size does not appear to be a primary indicator of sprinting success.

These two studies shed light on the significant role of weight training and specific muscles in improving sprinting performance, offering valuable insights for athletes and coaches seeking to enhance their sprinting capabilities.

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