Get 44% Off. Only $8.33/mo

40 Yard Dash Secrets For Beginners: Proper Warm Up, Setup Tips, And Sprinting Technique

How To Sprint Properly To Burn Fat Faster With Pro Track Athlete Steven Benedict

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.

In my vlogs and social media, I’ve shared that I prefer to do the 40 yard dash, or 100 meter dash, when sprinting.

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.

Who Is Steven Benedict?

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.

Brad’s Sprinting Experience

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.

100m Race: Fitness Trainer vs. Pro Track Athlete

Keep reading to the end to find out who won.

Let’s get into it. 

Best Warm Up For Sprinting

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.

Warm Up Movement #1: Skips

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:

  1. Complete 5-10 meters of skips or 10 skips.
  2. Concentrate on making ground contact to bounce and push off the ground.
  3. You want to feel the bounce as this will start warming up the achilles and the bottom of your feet.
  4. After completing 5-10 meters or 10 skips, it’s important to run it out for an extra 5-50 meters to keep your body moving as you prepare for the run.
  5. After you take it out 5-50 meters, turn around and complete another set of 10 skips, then take it out for another 5-50 meters to get back to the start.
  6. This is a constant back and forth movement, so continue going back and forth until you begin to feel warmed up.

Warm Up #2: Skips With Alternating Forward Arm Circles

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:

  1. While staying light on your feet, push your feet through the ground as you skip forward while swinging one arm back, up, and forward in a circular motion, followed by the other arm.
  2. Remember to keep your arms and shoulders relaxed while you swing them like windmills.
  3. Continue skipping for 5-10 meters of skips or 10 skips, while alternating the forward arm circles.
  4. Rather than focusing on which leg is going forward, concentrate on ground contact, while staying as soft as possible, off the ball of your feet.
  5. Focus on staying relaxed as you land as soft and light on the feet as possible, while making ground contact.
  6. Concentrate on bouncing and pushing off the ground.
  7. Think “hit, react, hit, react”.
  8. After completing 5-10 meters or 10 skips, run it out for an extra 5-50 meters.
  9. After you take it out 5-50 meters, turn around and complete another 10 skips then take it out for another 5-50 meters to get back to the start.

Warm Up #3: A Skips

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:

  1. Begin the movement by lifting one knee up towards your chest while simultaneously completing a mini hop off the ground with your other foot.
  2. As you bring your knee up, swing your opposite arm forward with your elbow bent close to 90 degrees, while driving your other arm back.
  3. Land softly while stepping your other foot down to the ground in front of you.
  4. Immediately repeat the same movement on the other side, lifting your knee up towards your chest while quickly hopping off the ground with your other foot.
  5. Continue alternating the high knee skips in a fluid and rhythmic motion, aiming for a moderate to fast pace, while concentrating on the down strike with your foot, down and back.
  6. Focus on driving your knees up as high, as comfortably possible, while maintaining control and balance, then driving your feet down as fast as possible, driving the feet down and back.
  7. Repeat for time or reps.

Best Mobility Movements For Sprinting

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.

Mobility Movement #1: Walking Knee Hugs

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:

  1. Stand with a hip width stance.
  2. Contract your core to stabilize your body, then lift your knee up towards your chest, while coming up on the toes of the stationary foot, to push off the ball of your foot.
  3. Grab your knee with both hands interlocked together, then pull your knee in further towards your chest, while keeping your chest upright and forward, rather than leaning back.
  4. Keep both hips square, with your back straight.
  5. Lower your foot back to the ground as you step forward, while completing the knee hug on the opposite leg.
  6. Continue alternating legs as you walk forward.
  7. After completing 5-10 meters of knee hugs, it’s important to jog it out for an extra 5-50 meters to keep your body moving and prepare your body to run in the direction of the run.
  8. After you take it out 5-50 meters, turn around and complete another 5-10 meters of knee hugs, then take it out for another 5-50 meters to get back to the start.

Mobility Movement #2: Walking Alternating Single Leg Toe Touches

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:

  1. Stand on one foot, with the other foot slightly raised, with your arms hanging by your sides.
  2. While balancing on one leg, press the entire bottom of your foot flat into the ground to help stay balanced.
  3. Push your hips back and lower your upper body forward towards the ground, as you kick your back leg up as high as possible to stretch out the hamstring on the stationary leg, while touching your opposite hand to your stationary toes.
  4. Touching your opposite hand to your opposite toe helps with counter balance.
  5. Focus on keeping your hips square to the ground, with your back leg straight.
  6. Your free arm can just hang there or if you need help balancing, extend your arm out to the side.
  7. To stand back up, press your foot through the ground, squeeze your glutes, and return to the upright position.
  8. Switch legs by taking a step forward, then repeat with the opposite side.
  9. After moving 5-10 meters, run it out for an extra 5-50 meters to keep your body moving as you prepare your body for the run.
  10. After you take it out 5-50 meters, turn around and complete another 5-10 meters, then jog it back another 5-50 meters to get back to the start.

Best Sprinting Drills

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.

Sprinting Drill #1: High Knee Runs

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:

  1. With a hip width stance, drive one knee up, with your foot flexed, so your thigh is parallel to the ground while pumping the opposite arm and elbow forward, similar to if you were sprinting.
  2. Softly land the ball of your foot on the ground while immediately driving the opposite knee up with your opposite arm driving forward as you step forward.
  3. As you swing your arms, focus on keeping your shoulders, fingers, and every other part of your body relaxed.
  4. Continue moving forward while staying on the balls of your feet at a slow and controlled pace.
  5. Concentrate on ground contact, while swinging your arms and staying in an upright position.
  6. After moving 5-10 meters, run it out for an extra 5-50 meters to keep your body moving as you prepare your body for the run.
  7. After you take it out 5-50 meters, turn around and complete another 5-10 meters, then jog it back another 5-50 meters to get back to the start.

Sprinting Drill #2: Straight Leg Bounds

Straight Leg Bounds are often used as a dynamic warm up for the hips and legs before sprinting.

To get started:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. While keeping your legs as straight as possible, kick one leg out and up as high as you can, while flexing your foot.
  3. As the foot comes down, strike down into the ground with the ball of your foot to drive the ground away from you, then immediately alternate legs as you continue moving forward.
  4. As your left leg kicks out, your left arm swings backwards and your right arm swings forward.
  5. Continue to quickly alternate sides, landing on the balls of your feet, as you spring forward while swinging your arms.
  6. After moving 5-10 meters, immediately transition right into a running stride as you jog it out for an extra 5-50 meters to keep your body moving.
  7. After you take it out 5-50 meters, turn around and complete another 5-10 meters, then jog it back another 5-50 meters to get back to the start.

How To Properly Setup In The Starting Position For The 40 Yard Dash

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. 

Which Foot Should Be in Front When Starting a Sprint?

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.

40 Yard Dash Start

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:

  1. Address the line by standing with your toes on the starting line, while facing the opposite direction of the finish lone.
  2. Step the foot you want to be in front forward so the heel touches the front of the starting line.
  3. Step the back foot in front of the forward foot so the heel touches the toes.
  4. Pivot both feet 180 degrees so you now face the starting line.
  5. Drop the front foot back so the toe are in alignment with the back heel.
  6. Shift your back foot a few inches out to the side to set your feet to approximately shoulder width apart.
  7. This will give you enough space between the tip of your back foot to the heel of the front foot and enough room to put your hands down to get adjusted. 
  8. Keeping this foot placement, drop your back knee down to the ground and address the starting line with the finger tips of both hands pointing out and pressed into the ground.
  9. The goal is to find a good balance of pressure in your fingers and the balls of your feet. 
  10. Feel the tension and the power in your quadriceps.
  11. Since you will be running forward not backwards, it’s important to lean forward a little bit, rather than leaning back.
  12. Rise up off your back knee to get up on the balls of your feet, with your heels ups, while keeping your hips down.
  13. Dig the balls of your front and back feet into the ground, to create the pressure needed to press down and back.
  14. Raise the relaxed arm on the same side as the front knee to your side, with your elbow slightly bent.
  15. Keep your head down by picking a point between your feet to focus your eyes on.
  16. Explode out by swinging your back arm out and forward while driving the back leg straight out in front of you.
  17. As you explode out, it’s important to stay low, while keeping your head down, as your push straight out, rather than coming straight up.
  18. When starting, think of bounding out of the start with powerful motions that push through the ground and cover more ground, rather than fast motions.
  19. In the drive phase, the goal is to stay lower, while driving your knees out, and swinging your arm levers as much as possible, to cover more ground.
  20. You shouldn’t look up until you hit the 20 yard line.
  21. Once you get further and transition in the dash, everything shortens up, including quicker arm motions.

The Drive Phase

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:

  • Drive phase
  • Transition phase
  • Top end speed phase
  • Maintenance phase.

Transition Phase

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.

Top End Speed Phase And Maintenance Phase

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. 

Staying Relaxed Is The Key To Sprinting

Remember, it’s important to stay as relaxed as possible.

When you need to relax your tight muscles, try this technique:

  1. Tense up your muscles until they are super tight.
  2. Then release and let them drop down.
  3. You will instantly feel your body and muscles let go and loosen up.

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.

The Two Sprinting Cues Brad Needs To Work On Most

Based on Steven’s assessment of my sprinting technique, the two cues he recommends I work on is:

  1. Knee lift
  2. Arm swings

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 You Versus You

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

Even though some people may lose fat quicker than you or build muscle quicker than you, you need to only focus on yourself.

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. 

Remember These 3 Keys To Success

  1. Patience
  2. Persistence
  3. Positivity

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.

Why Sprinters Are The Best Overall Athletes In The World

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.

100m Race: Fitness Trainer vs. Pro Track Athlete

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.

Follow Steven Benedict On Social Media

Thanks to my man Steven Benedict for coming out.

Steven has an absolutely amazing story, so go follow him on social media on Instagram.

Keep Living Lean.


Start by taking our FREE Live Lean Body Quiz to get access to the best program specific to your goals, current fitness level, and access to equipment.

Take the Free Live Lean Body Quiz


Did you enjoy this post on 40 Yard Dash Secrets For Beginners: Proper Warm Up, Setup Tips, And Sprinting Technique?

If you enjoyed this post on 40 Yard Dash Secrets For Beginners: Proper Warm Up, Setup Tips, And Sprinting Technique, please support this blog, by clicking the social media buttons to share this with your friends.

Subscribe to our Live Lean TV YouTube channel and leave a comment below on what you want to see in future posts.

Questions For You:

  • Which 40 yard dash or sprinting tips did you find most helpful?
  • How often do you sprint per week?

Be sure to share your answers in the comment section below.

Check out our free workout videos here.

Check out my free recipe cooking videos here.

3 responses to “40 Yard Dash Secrets For Beginners: Proper Warm Up, Setup Tips, And Sprinting Technique

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *