Weight Room Exercises for 400m Runners

Athletic woman preparing for race

A large part of training for a sprint race like the 400 meter involves running outside. However, building strength and power in the weight room can also improve your performance on the track. A good weight room workout for a 400m runner includes lower-body, upper-body and core exercises.

Lower-Body Exercises

Strong leg muscles are essential for 400m runners. You must have strong quadriceps in order to perform one of the primary movements in sprinting- lifting your knee up toward your chest. You also need strong calf muscles to push off the ground and strong hamstrings in order to bend your knee and kick up behind you.

You can build your leg strength in the weight room by performing weight exercises or plyometric exercises. Weight exercises typically target specific muscle groups, whereas plyometric exercises build power in numerous muscle groups. Strengthen your quadriceps with squats or lunges. Good mornings or lying legs curls target your hamstrings, and standing raises develop your calves. Good plyometric exercises include split squat jumps and box jumps.

Upper-Body Exercises

You may think it’s not worth your time to focus attention on building your upper body muscles. However, your arms help drive you forward when you’re sprinting. In order to keep your speed high, your arms must swing at the same pace your legs turn over. If your arms fatigue and cannot keep with your legs, you will slow down. Strong chest and back muscles are important as well because they help you maintain good posture, which allows you to breathe efficiently at high speeds.

A well-rounded weight routine for a 400m sprinter includes exercises to strengthen the chest, triceps, biceps, shoulder and back muscles. Strengthen your chest muscles by doing bench presses or cable flies. Develop your triceps with kickbacks or skull crushers and your biceps with dumbbell curls. Build shoulder strength with lateral raises, front raises and reverse flies. Develop your back muscles with rear pulldowns and shrugs.

Core Exercises

Your core muscles, which include your pelvic, abdominal and low back muscles, are necessary for good upright posture. Some of these muscles, such as your hip flexors, are also important for proper leg motion when sprinting. These muscles also stabilize your hips, which can help you avoid low back pain when training.

Many of the lower-body exercises you perform, such as lunges, will also strengthen your gluteal muscles. You can also do body weight exercises, such as the dirty dog and glute bridge, to strengthen these muscles. Hip flexor strength is developed with hanging leg raises and low back muscles can be strengthened with back extensions. Variations on sit ups and crunches are great exercises for your abdominal muscles.


Always warm up with at least 5 minutes of cardiovascular exercises before lifting weights. Don’t forget to stretch when you finish. Keeping your muscles flexible is just as important as keeping them strong!