Using Resisted Sprints

October 25, 2014

In a previous post (, I reviewed the current state of knowledge about resisted sprints.  With this post, I’d like to talk a little about how they can be used in an athlete’s speed and agility program.


First, let’s review the high points:

  1. Resisted sprinting negatively impacts velocity and sprinting mechanics while it’s being performed, but it’s unclear if this is a bad thing.
  2. If resisted sprinting is performed with the weight being a weighted belt or vest, this seems to minimize the changes to sprinting mechanics.
  3. It’s unclear if the 10% rule holds (i.e. don’t let the resisted sprinting slow you down by more than 10%).


Now, before we go further it’s important to stop here and point two things out.  First, it is unclear if resisted sprinting is more effective than running without resistance.  The fact that research has been unable to determine this decisively should tell you that this training tool is not the magic bullet for speed development.  Second, this is not meant to be a long-term training tool.  By this I mean that it is a training tool to be used for a specific goal over a four to eight-week period of time and not year-round.


Will a few sprints a week with resistance, done four to eight times, really have long-term detrimental effects on your sprinting technique?  Probably not.  But, the change in your mechanics while you are performing those sprints can make you more likely to become injured during the resisted sprints.  For this reason, I’m not a fan of using this training tool for long distances.  But I do think this is a great tool at developing first step speed and horizontal application of force.


When being used to develop first step speed, the following are some recommended guidelines for using resisted sprints:

  1. Distances should be five to ten meters in length.
  2. There’s not a need to do more than ten to twelve of these in a workout session.
  3. Technique changes, particularly leaning forward, need to be minimized.
  4. This should be performed towards the beginning of a speed and agility workout.
  5. Consider incorporating bounds or horizontal jumps into the workout with the resisted sprints to help reinforce the horizontal application of force.
  6. If strength training is to be performed on the same day, consider focusing the training around improving maximal strength.


Points five and six above are meant to help ensure that every type of training is used in a manner that reinforces the qualities that resisted sprinting is meant to develop.  The example below shows a sample day of workouts for an athlete that is going to be using the resisted sprints in a speed/agility training session.


Strength training:

Back squats, 3×3-6×85%

Romanian deadlifts, 3×6

Bench press, 3×3-6×85%

Bent-over rows, 3×6

Military press, 3×6



Mobility drills, 5-10 minutes

Speed/agility technique drills, 10-15 minutes

Stick drills, 3×5 meters

Resisted sprints, 5×10 meters

Sprints, crouching start, 3×10 meters

Bounds, 3×10 meters