Sprint-Resisted Training

by: Josh Bryant

Apollo and Rocky loved sand sprints!

Heredity only deals the cards but environment and training play the hand!

In lieu of sounding as cocky as the king of spades, I am raising the ante, laying my cards on the table and sharing with you my ace in the hole! 

Sprint-resisted training.

Whether your goal is Gas Station Ready, Chippendales Ready or just general health—sprint-resisted training will benefit YOU.
Sprint-resisted training is intense, but relatively safe and, properly applied, will enhance power production, speed, fat burning and mental toughness fast.  

I have had great success integrating sprint-resisted training into the training regimens of tactical athletes, traditional athletes and yours truly!

Hill sprints are a form of sprint-resisted training we have already covered. If you do not have my free Hill Sprint Program click here. 

Why Sprint-Resisted Training?

Safety: Because of the resistance, you never reach maximum limb speed. This serves as a built-in safety mechanism for your hamstrings! Remember, strength-to-bodyweight ratio is a key component in predicting sprint speed (many of you have a great one so be careful and use resistance).  I used resistance for a year before doing bodyweight sprints (as a side note) primarily in the form of hills and sleds.

Strength: Resisted sprints, like weight training, make you stronger! You bridge the gap between strength training and speed training; they are in the middle of the force-velocity continuum. 

Body Angle: The angle of your body sprinting up against resistance is very similar to the acceleration phase of sprinting, offering direct strength transference. Furthermore, resistance require your knees to pump high, increase your stride rate and teach aggressive shoulder action (essential for maximum acceleration).

Build Mental Toughness: All-out sprints against resistance grow hair on your nuts!.  Half-speed gets WAY LESS than half results. Whether you’re in a foot chase down Avenida Revolucion in Tijuana with a pick pocket that stole your wallet as you sipped on a Sangre de Toro at the Blue Fox or just want to kick ass in the annual mobile home association game of Indian Baseball, you will be audaciously confident and have the ability to back it up.

Conditioning/Body Composition Resisted-sprints greatly increase metabolic demand compared to traditional sprints; this greater requirement in output exponentially increases conditioning levels . Resisted sprints have an amazing effect on body composition because they are essentially a hybrid between sprints and weightlifting.   Sprinters have some of the best physiques in the world. And the hormonal response will have you pitch a morning tent that could make you a spokesman for Coleman. 

Endorphin Rush/Psychological boost After performing resisted sprints, I feel invincible and empowered.

Functionality  At the end of the day, regardless of the bastardization of this term by crypto-intellectual trainers, this simply means how well does a movement transfer to a desired activity.  Sprint-resisted training transfers well to about anything.

Here are some of my favorite forms of sprint-resisted training:

Sleds are dragged behind the athlete or pushed with the weight in front of the user, both build lightning acceleration.  Sled training hammers the sprinting muscles and helps bridge the gap between the Pig Iron and running drills.  Sled training teaches you how to produce the type of force that moves you forward. When training sleds for maximum speed, keep the distance 50 yards or less and allow for a full recovery between sets.  There are no universal resistance recommendations; as long as biomechanics are not faulty, the weight is not too heavy.  

Weighted Vests

Sleds provide resistance from a horizontal vector which is highly specific to sprinting.   A weighted vest provides resistance in a vertical vector (weight is pushing the user into the ground). Weighted vests greatly limit stride length but can aid in building large ground contact forces.  This large limitation in stride length decreases the likelihood of a hamstring injuries.  Additionally, this is very specific to a tactical athlete because her gear is providing resistance in a vertical vector. When training with a weighted vest for maximum speed, keep the distance 50 yards or less and allow for a full recovery between sets. There are no universal resistance recommendations; as long as biomechanics are not faulty, the weight is not too heavy. 

Sand Sprints

The ground works like a trampoline.  Shock is absorbed by the ground and shot back.  Sand has multiple levels.  In soft sand that is three feet deep, you will sink three inches with each step.  The average shoe sole is a half an inch, so if you sinks three inches, you are running on six different levels. The soft sand fully absorbs the force you apply but only throws back a small percentage. This requires you to pull your legs and body out of six different levels and requires a much greater energy demand and muscular strength than running on a hard surface.  

Here is an advanced sand training program designed by top speed coach Matt Poe:

With a sled and enough weight to keep the correct biomechanics, do this pyramid balls out

  • Four 10-yard sprints in the sand, four 10-yard sprints on a field
  • Two-minute break
  • Three 20-yard sprints in the sand, three 20-yard sprints on a field
  • Three-minute break
  • Two 30-yard sprints in the sand, two 30-yard sprints on a field
  • Four-minute break
  • One 40-yard sprint in the sand, one 40-yard sprint on the field

Final Thoughts

If you are a world-class sprinter with beautiful technique and a perfect rhythm, you can disregard this information—the last thing you want to do is disrupt that cadence.

For everyone else, sprint-resisted training helps you decrease your chance of injury compared to traditional strength training and bridges the gap between weight room strength and speed potential.

Tactical Strongman now available on paperback!