Sprinting is one of the most difficult exercises that you can perform. This may seem surprising – everyone assumes that they can still sprint – but like most things it is a skill. If you haven’t learned how to do it, or haven’t done it properly in years then you could cause yourself injury.
One of the best ways to avoid potential injury is to properly warm up. In this article we are going to look at a dynamic warm up for sprinters, we’ll discuss how to warm up for a 400m race, and other issues.
Dynamic Warm Up for Sprinters: Sprinting is a short, intense exercise that can be over in just a few seconds. So your sprint warm up needs to be very thorough. You should also have a little more time available to fit one in.
The general rule of thumb is the shorter the event, the longer the warm up. A dynamic warm up is one that involves high energy movements, and active stretches of the muscles. A good dynamic warm up for sprinting will use movements similar to those that you’ll be using during the session.
We will create a small dynamic warm up for you to follow now, using easy exercises. We will also include a description of each exercise so that you know what you’re doing. The warm up will mostly concentrate on the lower body as this is the most worked part during a sprint, but there will be one or two exercises for the upper body too.
Warm Up For Sprinters – Bodyweight Squats
Nice glute and hip flexor warm up, that will also target the quadriceps. You don’t need to do many, just a set of 10-20 reps. Place feet shoulder width apart with toes pointed out slightly, squat down (keeping heels flat on floor) until your thighs are at least parallel (lower if you can manage it) and then drive back upwards.
Warm Up For Sprinters – Jump Squats
Add in 10 reps of jump squats next to really warm up those muscles. Performed exactly the same as a bodyweight squat but instead of driving back up you spring up into the air, land (in the shoulder width apart stance) and immediately drop into your next squat.
Warm Up For Sprinters – Walking Lunges
Lunges recreate sprinting but in an exaggerated way, you really don’t want to perform too many of these. A few reps (10-12) should be fine. Stand upright with feet together, take a large stride forward with your front foot flat on the ground and your back foot on tip toe.
Drop your back knee down towards the ground, this should bring your front leg parallel with the ground. Then drive your back foot forward into a second lunge, keeping your front foot in place.
Warm Up For Sprinters – Leg Swings
A really good warm up for the hip flexors and glutes, you will need a wall or fence, or something to hold onto. Stand facing a wall with your hands holding it for support. Place your feet shoulder width apart and then bring one foot slightly forward and raised off the ground.
Swing the foot inwards so that it crosses your other foot and then swing it out wide, swing it back in and out for a set number of reps (e.g. 10). Swap legs. You can also swing it slightly forward and backwards while swinging left to right.
Warm Up For Sprinters – High Knees
This is just running but bringing your knees up nice and high, ideally your thighs should reach parallel with the floor. You can either do this on the spot or you can run up and down the track performing them.
Warm Up For Sprinters – Butt Kicks
This is basically just running but while you do so you will bring your heels up until they hit your butt. Many people do this with their hands behind as a target to hit.
Warm Up For Sprinters – High Knees With Sprint Arm Action
This sprint warm up exercise may sound similar to the previous one, but it is actually quite different. The movement here is more of a bound, taking large steps (almost skipping) so that your knees are high in the air.
As you do so, you will bring your arms up and down in a sprinting motion. You’re trying to recreate the sprinting movement, but in slow motion.
Proper Warm up for Sprinting
Step 1 – Jog for at least 20 minutes or two laps around the track before you begin sprinting. A slow jog elevates your heart rate and raises your body temperature, preparing you for the arduous sprint training that follows. You should be perspiring slightly but not drenched with sweat at the end of your jog.
Step 2 –Loosen your hamstrings and calf muscles with a modified hurdler’s stretch. Sit on the ground with your left leg straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee so the sole of your right foot is pressed against your left thigh. Keeping your back straight, bend at the waist and try to touch the toes of your left foot. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Complete two to four repetitions with each leg.
Step 3 – Stretch your foot muscles and ankles with heel-toe drills. Take a step forward, landing on the heel of your front foot. At the same time, raise yourself up on the toes of your back foot. Use a rolling motion to transfer your weight from heel to toe for each step. Perform the heel-toe drill for about 20 meters or 65 feet, approximately one-fifth of the straightaway on a 400-meter track.
Step 4 – Extend the range of motion in your hips with “A” marches. Walk with exaggerated steps, bringing your knees up high toward your waist. Bring your arms up with elbows bent and your fingertips pointing toward the sky each time you raise your knee. You can also quicken your pace with an A skip. Complete 20 meters of either A marches or skips. This drill also helps maintain and refine the proper position of a sprinter.
Step 5 – Do front and lateral lunges as part of a sprinting warm-up. Take a step with one leg in front of the other. Both knees should be bent, but do not let the back knee touch the ground. Balance in the lunge position for three seconds before switching legs. Take side steps with both knees bent and back straight to complete lateral lunges. The lateral movements improve balance when sprinting around curves, such as in a 200-meter race.
Step 6 – Practice accelerations as the last part of a sprinter’s warm-up. Sprint all out for 10 meters and stop. Sprint for 20 meters next and then run at top speed for 30, 40 and 50 meters. After your accelerations, you are properly warmed up and can work on your technique for relays, hurdles or other sprint events.
Good Ways to Warm Up Your Knees
Your joints like to be moved around as much as possible. And your knees are no exception. It’s important to stretch and flex the knee before a workout to give it a proper warm-up to get blood moving through the joint and the muscles surrounding it, which helps prevent injuries. You’ll also make sure that you have enough range of motion to do the exercises in your workout that you want to do.
When you move a joint it releases its own natural lubricant, called synovial fluid. This keeps the joint moving smoothly. The best way to get your joints properly lubricated is to move them with as much range of motion as possible, which means you’ll have to bend the knee a lot during the warm-up.
How to Warm Up for a 400m Race
A 400m race can be warmed up for in a similar way to the dynamic warm up for sprinters we just mentioned. But what you have to remember is that a 400m race will last much longer than a regular sprint. 400m is right at the end of the sprint spectrum. Depending on your abilities a 400m race can last for up to 2 minutes.
So following our rule of “the shorter the event, the longer the warm up” means that our warm up should be slightly shorter. It can still be long, but you want every bit of energy for this race.