On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, pro track athlete Steven Benedict shares his 40 yard dash secrets for beginners, including proper warm up, setup tips, and sprinting technique.
We are at a beautiful outdoor track in Burbank, Los Angeles County.
Steven and I first met backstage at the 2015 LA Fit Expo and instantly hit it off.
Based on this, in this post Steven is going to share some of his best beginner sprint tips, including:
These beginner tips will help you be more effective with your sprints, so you can burn fat faster.
Here is a quick background on who is Steven Benedict and what he is all about.
Steven is a professional track and field athlete who ran for the US team.
He also trained to run for the Italian national team, in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
More importantly, he is training to break the European 200 meter championship record.
I admit, I loved being the student during this sprint workout.
As a fitness pro, I understand I can’t be an “expert” in all aspects of sports and fitness.
Although I love sprinting and incorporate sprint workouts into my routine 2-3 times a week, I have never been coached on proper sprinting techniques.
This is why I am so happy to be trained by Steven today.
We are going to take you through some running technique tips to make sure you are being more effective in your sprints.
You probably already know the benefits of sprinting, however we now have the teacher here to teach you how to do it better.
This is another example of me putting myself out of my comfort zone.
I could continue coming to the track and keep doing what I am doing, but I want to get better at it.
That’s why I’m listening and following a coach who knows what they’re doing.
We are about to drop some golden nuggets on you, so hopefully you enjoy these sprinting tips.
Make sure you stay tuned to the end to see me and pro track athlete Steven Benedict go head to head in a 100m sprint race.
Keep reading to the end to find out who won.
Let’s get into it.
During the warm up, there are no jogging movements.
You will never see a sprinter jogging at the beginning of a workout.
Sprinters are all about fast twitch movements.
The first sequence of warm up sprinting drills include three skip movements.
Complete the skip for approximately 5-10 meters, then run it out for 5-10 meters.
As a sprinter, you should always take it out for the extra 5-10 meters to keep your body moving and prepare it to run in the direction you are going.
Therefore, after each movement drill, immediately transition directly into your running stride.
There should be no changing of the motion, or body position, as you transition from the drill to the run.
Every drill should mimic what you are doing in sprinting.
If you feel uncomfortable at the gym or at the track, watch these exercise demonstration videos and mimic what we’re doing, so you can get better at it.
Everything is about repetition.
This means you may not feel comfortable the first 10 times you do it.
After the first 20 times, you will start feeling certain things, then you’ll be able to adjust.
The first warm up movement are skips.
Skips are a dynamic movement to warm up the body, the Achilles tendons, and the bottom of your feet to get ready to run.
In skipping, concentrate on ground contact while keeping the arms, legs, and every other part of your body nice and relaxed.
For this variation of the skip, there is no need to bring your knees up.
To get started:
The next dynamic warm up movement are skips with alternating forward arm circles.
This is combining skips with a full rotation through the shoulders.
Once again, during this skip there is no need to bring your knees up.
This will warm up the shoulder joints.
This is important since your arm movements act as levers, therefore they are super important for your stride length.
To get started:
The A Skip, also known as High Knee Skips, are an excellent full body dynamic warm up drill.
Take your time with this until you feel comfortable with it.
To get started:
After you complete the skip movements, move right into these two different mobility movements.
Complete the following mobility movements for approximately 5-10 meters, then jog it out for another 5-10 meters.
The first mobility movement are walking knee hugs.
Walking Knee Hugs, also known as the knee to chest stretch, is a dynamic warm exercise that targets the glutes, hip flexors, and hamstrings.
To get started:
The second mobility movement are walking alternating single leg toe touches, also known as, single leg kickbacks.
This is a bodyweight mobility movement that primarily targets the hamstrings.
By isolating and training each leg independently, it will help keep the equilibrium between both legs.
This will also help you find out which leg is weaker, so you can properly strengthen both legs equally.
To get started:
We started with our dynamic skips, then we went into mobility drills.
Now we are going into the sprinting technique, with two sprinting drills.
These are are slower movements that mimick sprinting, therefore they may be more difficult if you are a beginner.
The first sprinting drill we are doing are high knee runs.
The main difference between football player high knee runs and sprinter high knee runs is the speed.
Football players usually complete high knee runs super fast over 10 meters.
Sprinters do high knee runs at a slower pace, while concentrating on more ground contact, while swinging your arms and staying in position.
Sprinting is all about staying in position for the longest amount of time.
The person who does this best, will win the race.
To get started:
Straight Leg Bounds are often used as a dynamic warm up for the hips and legs before sprinting.
To get started:
Now that you completed the warm up, mobility, and sprint drills, you are now ready to perform the 40 yard dash.
The first step is to learn how to properly setup in the starting position for the 40 yard dash.
These key setup points will include checking hip movements and angles.
This will ensure you are getting the most amount of power, while moving in a horizontal motion, instead of a vertical motion.
Staying horizontal is a very important aspect of sprinting.
A lot of time you will see people bouncing, without covering any ground.
Sprinting is all about the horizontal movement, while covering as much ground as possible, in the shortest amount of time.
Your power leg is the leg you are most dominate on.
For example, when a basketball player slam dunks a ball, they will jump off of their most dominate leg, since this leg provides them with the most vertical push off the floor.
If you are right handed, usually you are going to be dominate on the right side.
However, if you are unsure of which leg is your power leg, try this.
Stand with your feet together, then slowly lean forward until you have to take a step forward.
The leg you automatically step forward with is considered your power leg.
While setting up your starting position for the 40 yard dash, the goal is to get the most power out of your legs.
Since we are not using blocks, the setup has to be a little tighter to get the most power out of it.
It’s important to get the first step out and forward, then down and back, as quickly as possible.
However, rather than thinking about doing it as fast as possible, remember the power is all about finesse.
To ensure you are not crowding the line, complete the following steps.
To get started:
One of the key factors to a good start is staying low over a period of time.
The longer you can stay down, the more ground you will cover, while prolonging your top end speed.
It’s all about your eyes.
Your eyes lead your body and conduct how your body moves.
You always want to keep your eyes out approximately 5 meters in front of you.
Every step counts.
Just like with anything in life, where ever you are looking, that is where you are going to go.
When running the 40 yard dash, it’s important to keep your head down until the 20 yard line.
The transitions phases for the 100m and 200m dash are different since they are a longer race.
For example, for the 100m dash, the drive phase area would be approximately 30 meters before transitioning.
However, the longer you can prolong it, the better it becomes.
This is why you see some of the guys in the big track meets start to pull away from everybody 50-60 meters into the race.
No doubt, they are faster and stronger, but they also know how to run the different phases of the race:
We went over the drive phase, which is the first 20 meters.
Now we are going over the transition phase, which is the next phase after the drive phase.
During the transition phase, your posture, hips, and eyes start to come up, as you begin to push into the top end speed phase.
You’ll be pushing your knees out in front of you, with your hands in front of you face, as you continue driving forward.
The second half of the race is all about conditioning.
The biggest part of a professional sprinter’s season is the conditioning phase.
They start training in September, or a little earlier, even though they are not competing until March.
That’s how much conditioning and strength you need to build up, in order for your body to be able to sprint and withstand injury.
It ensures you are not tearing or pulling any muscles or causing stress fractures.
You really need to build up the base before you can get to the peak.
Remember, it’s important to stay as relaxed as possible.
When you need to relax your tight muscles, try this technique:
Repeat to yourself:
“Relax, relax, relax.”
You should also find 3 keywords to repeat to yourself during your runs.
Whenever Steven is practicing or running, he repeats the following to himself, no matter if he is tired or fresh.
“Strong body, light feet, and confident mind.”
These are three little things he repeats to himself every rep.
Find three words that are key for you to work on, put them together in a sentence, then repeat it to yourself.
This will keep reminding your body to do certain things.
Based on Steven’s assessment of my sprinting technique, the two cues he recommends I work on is:
These are two things that are restricting my movements to be able to cover more ground and strike with more power.
Even though I have been sprinting for a while, I’ve never been properly trained to perfect my sprinting form.
Therefore it’s going to take some time to break my old bad habits and reprogram my body to move using these sprinting mechanics.
Sprinting is all about progressing at your own pace.
You are not racing against the person next to you, you are only racing against yourself.
Never compare yourself to someone else.
This is such a valuable point, even when it comes to body recomposition.
If you start rushing these phases, rather than running your own race, you will run the race of the person next to you.
It is important to never focus on the person racing next to you.
You should have blinders on similar to the blinders worn by race horses.
When you see professional sprinters racing, they are focused straight ahead.
Always keep your eyes looking 5 meters down out in front for the whole race.
That way you won’t get distracted.
As far as the discipline aspect, track is one on one sport.
Whatever you put into it, is what you will get out of it.
It’s the same thing with life.
Sprinting will lay the discipline for you to do a lot of other things.
You can take the things you learn at the track and apply them to other aspects of your life.
The ego is like a light switch.
You need to learn when to turn it on and off.
Everyone goes through phases of ups and downs, with peaks and valleys.
It’s important to be patient.
The biggest thing is not to compare yourself with anybody else.
Compared to any other sport in the world, track and field athletes, especially sprinters, are some of the best overall athletes in the world.
When you put a sprinter in any other sport, all they have to do is learn the modalities of that sport, to be great at it.
I feel good about this race since, as a pro track athlete, all the pressure is on Steven to win.
However, if I was challenged to a push up contest, I’d be the one under pressure.
With that said, it’s now time for us to hit the starting line for our 100 meter race.
Watch here to see who won.
Hopefully you enjoyed this post and got some good beginner tips to improve your sprints and 40 yard dash.
Thanks to my man Steven Benedict for coming out.
Steven has an absolutely amazing story, so go follow him on social media on Instagram.
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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.