Faster block starts and acceleration

A lot of track athletes want to improve their block starts so they can have faster times in their event.  In order to have faster block starts you will not only need to work on your starting block position but you’ll need to improve your acceleration out of the blocks.  To do this you must practice setting the blocks up so that your body is in the correct starting position, and you will also need to develop the energy components (strength, speed, and power) necessary for faster acceleration.

Step by step starting block setup (click here)


Accelerating out of the starting blocks

When a track athlete starts from the starting blocks in a sprint race, they will accelerate by applying large amounts of force to the starting blocks and to the track over a distance of somewhere around 30-60m (elite athletes need 50-60m to accelerate).   During this acceleration, the athlete will drive out in a 45 degree angle from the blocks and should feel like they are performing an explosive version of “pushing” with each step as they accelerate down the track rather than an erratic tap tap tap as fast as you can feeling.  Later there will be a change in mechanics and force application as the athlete goes from the explosive version of “pushing” and later transition to a lighter foot contact and “pulling” feeling as they progress to maximum velocity.

Foot contact time on the ground will be longer (measured in milliseconds) in the beginning of the acceleration phase (pushing) than they would be at maximum velocity.  This is because more muscle fibers will need to be recruited in order to produce greater force because the body has to gain speed through acceleration.

As mentioned earlier, the athlete will drive out of the blocks at a 45 degree angle with the arms driving in forward and backward while applying large amounts of force to the starting blocks and track surface.  The athlete will gradually feel themselves “push” their body angle up to a horizontal position by the time they reach 30-60m.  The athlete should NOT “stand up” or bring the chest up at all.  They should be patient and let the “pushing” action do the work for them by gradually pushing their body angle to an upright position over the course of the 30-60m drive phase.


Acceleration Workouts (energy system)

Use the workouts below to help train the anaerobic alactic energy system (ATP+CP) that will allow for maximizing your acceleration potential in your sprint events. Follow the prescribed distances and recoveries for maximum results. If you are not sure when to do these workouts or if you would like to follow a training schedule, check out my 100m/200m training program.

IMPORTANT:  If you are a sprinter and try to run these workouts at a faster/slower pace, run further/shorter than the prescribed distance, and/or cut the rest short (boredom or rushing), you will change the component of the workouts and no longer be training the correct energy system that your workout was intended to train.


3x 3-4x 30m Accelerations from either the crouch or 3-point starting position @95-100% with a recovery of 3’/6’ (3’/6′ = 3 minutes/6 minutes)

As athlete’s capacity increases over the season:  

  • 3x 3-4x 40m    3’/6’
  • 2-3x 4x 50m    3’/6’

3x 3-4x 30m Block Starts @ 95-100%    3’/6’   

As athlete’s capacity increases over the season:

  • 3x 3-4x 40m Block Starts    3’/6’
  • 3x 50-50-50m Block Starts    3’/6’

3x 3-4x 30m sled pulls @ 95-100%    3’/6’   

As athlete’s capacity increases over the season:

  • 3x 3-4x 40m    3’/6’
  • 3x 30-40-50m    3’/6’
  • 2-3x 4x 50m    3’/6’


100m/200m training program (learn more)