Usain Bolt says he didn’t exploit any magic secrets to become the fastest human in history. All he did was combine consistent, focused training with obvious talent. It resulted in a 100m time of 9.58 seconds that was previously thought to be impossible, and a total of eight Olympic gold medals won across a 12-year period. The Jamaican great is now retired at 34 years old but what insights can we take from his training? Built for Athletes takes a look.
A key feature of Bolt’s training was lengthy 90-minute gym sessions three times a week that aimed to increase explosiveness and power. Bolt did a lot of core work throughout his career to compensate for his weak back that he says is a result of scoliosis suffered in childhood.
A typical core workout would be three sets of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest of leg raises, side sweeps, reverse crunches and side plank clams. Weight training of course played a major role in Bolt’s explosive development. See below for a typical session.
Power Clean (5 sets, 3 reps)
Explosive Barbell Step-Ups (4 sets, 6-8 reps)
Romanian Deadlift (4 sets, 10 reps)
Sled Drag (3 sets, 10 reps)
Barbell Ab Rollout (3 sets, 10 reps)
Alongside these core and heavy load workouts, Bolt also performed drills around once a week during the winter to perfect his form. The first phase of the drills aimed at building explosive power, while the second focused on hip flexibility to lengthen his stride.
Bunny Hops (5 sets, 20 reps)
Box Jumps (4 sets, 8 reps)
Bounding (3 sets, 10 reps)
Cable Knee Drives (3 sets, 10 reps)
Hanging Leg Raises (3 sets, 10 reps)
Training on the track was obviously a major part of Bolt’s preparations for 100m and 200m races and he split his sessions into four key areas. We’ve highlighted these below with example workouts.
Starting Blocks:10×2 point starts for 10-20m (rest: 2mins), 6×3 point start for 10-20 m (rest: 3mins), 4×2 block starts for 10-30 m (rest: 5mins) Acceleration: 10×20m with weight vest (rest: 4mins), 5×15m 2-point start using weight sleds (5mins recovery)Top End Speed: 5×30m acceleration, 75 per cent speed for 15-20m, sprint for 10-15m (rest: 4-5mins)
Deceleration: 2×100m (2-3 reps), 95 per cent of 200m pace (rest: 2-3mins between reps, 5-8mins between sets) Speed endurance work would also get regular attention including sessions such as 6-8 reps of 150m at 80-90% of 200m pace with 3-4 minutes rest.