Sprint Training Warm-up Question #100m #MastersTrack

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Name: Speed Interested Human 
Subject: Question regarding speed training warmup, plyometrics and weights for speed


Dear Angie Coon, 

Earlier today I purchased three e-books, Speed Trap, CF training systems and structure of training for speed.

Hard to find words to describe just how much value these books had to me and the very clear pedagogic in the training structure book, thank you.

I have a few questions that I cant seem to find the answer to, maybe there is a e-book for them or maybe if its OK you could shed some light? :)

1. warm up. On speed days i read "warm up 1 & 2" , then "tempo days warm up 1'". Cant find anywhere though what's actually included in them?

From what i gathered from other parts of the books seems to be A/B skips and strides. Even saw 'knee raise exercises then strides' in one section. No straight leg bounds/running?

2) Daily structure - plyo and weights. Is it a 6 hour later pm workout or directly after the speed session? If directly after what did they do in the pm? Or was plyo part of the speed workout and weights later?

Im asking cause so many people seem to a.m speed, p.m lift and cant seem to find any daily structure at all in the books other than whats included in the entire day. I cant believe they trained 1x per day in some 2,5 hour monster session?

3) hamstrings. Seems CF had reverse leg press as his fav hammy. But all stats i read from ben Johnson are squats and bench just wondering did he do pwrclean and deads at all?

For a CF orientated strength plan whats the routine today? Mix of deads, pwrclean, squat, bench and lat pull down?

For a CF orientated plyo do you like them at the end of the speed session or put them into the weight session? Same for med ball throws.

All the best from Iceland

Hello John,

Thank you for your thoughtful questions and interest in the life and career of Master Coach Charlie Francis.

Warming up for Speed and Sprinting. 

Speed is one of the most intense forms of exercise and there have been endless debates about the warm-up. I will share with you what I was taught about the warmup, how I performed my warmup and how Charlie and I taught others regarding how to optimize the warmup for speed work and other types of training which facilitated performing speed.

Speed Day Warm up = (Charlie referred to speed day warm up as Warm up 1 and 2)
Warm up 1 =
Jogging for 4 laps around a 400m track which usually took 8 to 10 minutes of not rushed, easy jogging on grass as much as possible with full sweats and or appropriate gear depending on the weather
Sweats stay on and now you begin what we called a series of back-and-forth jogs over ~ 100meter distance ( we used a Canadian football field that had marked end zones so we always had a set distance and there was not any guessing)
First jog down you might do back ward arm circles to 100meters and shake back (we did a lot of shaking which was an easy jog with shoulders completely relaxed and arms shaking. ( looks some what odd to see but extremely effective as it is easy to carry a lot of tension in the upper extremities)
Grapevine to 50m and switch the direction for remaining 50m ( some call this karaoke steps)
Shaking back 100m
Forward arm circles down 100 meters
Shaking back 100m
Side skip one way to 50 meters and switch direction the remaining 50m
Shake back
( If it was tempo day or an non speed day we would do some easy stretching if needed and then get the main part of the workout going and completed. If it was speed day, we would add the next part onto the warmup and we will call it warm up 2.
Warm up 2 =
Drills/Power Speed ( distances for this would vary but usually 10,15 or 25 meters/ beginners you would always start with low distance and volume)
A skip
B skip
Butt kicks
Running A’s ( let me know and I will try to video tape these drills for you)
(Straight leg bounding, single leg hops, left left, right right, double leg hops, standing long jumps for distance, regular bounding, *special drills = the add on of these drills and exercises were performed in the fall, winter and spring but not in season drills (does not mean we NEVER did these in season, but they are for building strength. Charlie was always careful in the volume of all things. Let your eyes guide you in terms of how an athlete is able to handle the work. ( tip= facial expressions are an excellent guide to seeing how an athlete will be responding to the work. )

Stretching comes next but stretching was meant to be woven into training breaks opposed to having the stretching consume volumes of time. ( My general time line was as follows = jog for 4 laps or about 10 minutes. Back and forths as mentioned above ~ 6 to 8 minutes and ready to do power speed before 20 minutes. Drills done before 30 minutes. Stretching and strides ~ 45 minutes )

Strides over 60m or 100m depending on time of year and if it’s indoor or outdoor and always on grass first and then on track with or without spikes depending on time of year / in competition season or not. (summery = Outdoor we did 100m strides and indoor we did 60m strides)

Note = Charlie was not happy with my B skip so eventually I did not perform them any longer. It’s the idea of practicing a drill improperly vs doing a drill for the sake of doing a drill. Practice makes permanent/ practice does not make perfect.

Daily Structure = I trained most of my life mid-day ~ 3pm. I was a student juggling school, and this was also the time-of-day Charlie trained his athletes. Why? York University shared the 400m track with the city of Toronto and the track was made available to the public at this time? I am not exactly sure. Training camp settings we would do something in the am before eating. Generally, it would be a light warm up and maybe a small number of easy drills. The idea was to get the metabolism going and heat the body up for the main session later in the day.

When I got to the track I would warm up and do speed or tempo and when we were done, we would finish with lifting. Rarely would we split up training as speed in the am and lifting in the pm. Why? Several reasons come to mind for me. I was taught you need 5 hours of waking to be at your best for speed

Note= We would go to train for 3pm, do the speed or tempo and then lift. We would then go home, I would cook, we would usually do massage but 10 minute massage and get ready for sleep. Speed days were always more time consuming and the further into my career I got the longer the speed sessions as the rest intervals were longer. So yes I suppose these were monster sessions.

We tried often successfully to perform speed Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Sometimes those speed days would shift if the speed quality wasn’t happening. So maybe we did tempo or regenerative training 2 days in a row and went back to the speed. Usually, I did everything in my power to regenerate myself as much as able to move the recovery process as soon as the training was done to keep the window open for a full 48 hour recover process. IF you do speed the am and then weights in the PM, the full recovery can’t start until after the weights. The work has been dragged out throughout the day. It would be different for multi event athletes who have to have a larger endurance aspect to their training. Again, it’s important to understand real world practices at the highest performing level which should not change proper methodology. Full complete rest for 48 hours before performing speed is how I was taught to train for speed. Charlie taught me this as per his understanding of how the CNS works.


Charlie viewed sprinting as the best exercise for speed training. Yes, he liked reverse leg press and ¼ or half squats but nothing below parallel as it was not needed. Additionally, full squats are hard on ligaments and joints and require greater periods of time to full regain joint space and recovery then 48 hours. If you want to get and be fast you have to repeat high quality speed routinely ( as per MWF or MWSaturday or T, Thus Sat etc)

We did power cleans and deads. Not tons for me and according to Charlie. He used these lifts but he was not a powerlifting coach, but he made supplementary use when needed. I can not speak extensively regarding all elements of when he did with Ben but it’s essential you view all weightlifting as supplementary AFTER speed volumes and quality have been achieved. Everything must be done to achieve great speed work on the track. People don’t understand this part in my opinion. For example. If I did a great job achieving the workload of my speed session I may or may not have performed weights. It would depend on how I felt and what Charlie thought or felt based on my times and performance. Training is always about the balance between getting as much work done as you are able given your short- and longer-term goals based on an organized plan (periodized training plans) and ensuring you stay clear of injuries. Injury prevention includes asking your athletes or yourself “how are you feeling”?

To best answer your comments regarding CharlieFrancis strength plan it would be worthwhile to look at his Weights for speed series. Bench, squats, arm pulls and or seated rows, incline bench and deads and cleans were staple exercises. Yes, I also did pull downs (behind the neck) as well as upright row initially ( but never that heavy) in my earlier years.

PLYO’s ( Plyometrics)

In the fall months in Ontario, Canada we would weave easy and lighter med ball throws into the warm up in place and or with the back and forth I mentioned above. Always on the grass the the ball need not be heavy. Most common mistakes are people are using balls they have not built up to use. Start with a lower weighted ball and over time ( not minutes but weeks and years) you add weight. Every thing you do must be added into your training. You can’t just keep adding weight and exercises randomly. Well you can but it’s best to have a master plan regarding how and when you add and when and when you take away.
We might use med ball throws within the drills such as chest pass, side pass and overhead pass and use a few explosive throws as part of warm up just before power speed drills start. Usually this might only happen 1x per week doing hills in the fall on Saturdays ( as one example).

John, I have been lamenting over how to best help you as your questions are interesting and your note has been thoughtful.

If you have further questions let me know or invite me to Iceland. I will come.

Take care and good luck,


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