My favorite sprints

Just finished a chaotic but awesome week of practice with the lacrosse team.  I finally have all the girls back from their various other sports, and we are preparing for our first game next Tuesday (wish us luck!).  I should also start a book with all the things they say, because it is solid gold…but that’s another day 😉

Anyway, this will be a brief post, but last week I talked about barbell complexes and their awesomeness in the conditioning department.  Continuing with that theme, I want to share one of my favorite conditioning “drills” that I’ve used for the past few years as a staple in my own training, and also for the teams I coach.  Its hard as hell, replicated almost anywhere (treadmill/bike/field) and yields fantastic results. Drum roll please….



These bad boys are full field sprints combined with active recovery.  A standard soccer field/football field/lacrosse field is 120 yards in length (if you run from back of the endzone to back of the endzone).  The goal is to sprint from one end to the other as fast as possible (usually in 15-20 seconds).  Then you take the rest of the minute to get back to the start.  As soon as the time is up, you go again.  The trick is to get back as quick as possible so you have time to “rest” but you really end up moving continuously for the entire duration.  Like I said, you can replicate it anywhere just by using the 20:40 work:rest ratio, but the sprint variation is the best.  If you want to try it on a track, use the straightaway and just go back and forth.

A standard women's lacrosse field!

I keep my reps between 5-8, which might seem surprisingly low, but there’s a method to the madness.  I’m really familiar with how challenging these are, and 5 is a good starting goal.  I progress with reps as long as a change in speed is still possible.  If the clock catches up to you and you’re not sprinting anymore, the drill is over.  I’m also very conscious of how fast that sprint is.  Most of the time, the first 2-3 will be consistent at 15-17 seconds, but as soon as it starts to drop to 25-30 seconds, I make a note of it and know what to look for next time.  I’ve seen most people try to get kids to do 10, 12, even 15 – which is definitely achievable – but you have to watch the clock.  Finishing all of those is one thing, but I’m more about the quality of the sprint than the quantity.

Like I mentioned, these create a15-20s work:40s recovery interval – and I’m a huge fan of it. Without getting too much into “training zones” and heart rates and all that, I’m just going to share some simple observations.  High school kids (especially girls) notoriously go on long runs and prefer distance over sprinting.  They rarely do any high intensity work that will force them to improve their buffering capacity (outside of the sports they play).  Knowing this, and using 120’s in combination with the other work they do, I see HUGE improvements in their game endurance.  It is also very sport specific for activities like soccer and lacrosse – ESPECIALLY for midfielders who literally need to have the ability to sprint from sideline to sideline multiple times a game.

The girls ran their first 120s this week (and loved them, by the way – haha, ok, not really).  I used it as a test to see where they’re at… Most of them did well – and a few actually impressed me.  They’ll continue to perform them at least once a week (depending on our game schedule) throughout the season and we’ll see how they improve.  I’d like to see us get to 8 pretty consistently, but we’ll see!

Do you guys have any conditioning drills/workouts that are staples in your programs? What interval (work/rest ratio) do you like to use?


About sten06

Master's in Kinesiology: Strength & Conditioning BSed in Exercise physiology -NSCA CSCS -NASM CPT, PES -Varsity Lacrosse Coach Saving the world one workout at a time ;)

Posted on February 18, 2012, in Fitness, Lacrosse, Strength & Conditioning, Training and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I used to be one of those girls who ran super long distances and never did any sprinting. Now, I only do sprinting! I go to the park at the end of my street and do the same thing as you. I sprint the distance of the rugby pitch, and walk back to the start. Sometimes, if I’m feeling energetic, I’ll use my recovery to work on specific exercises like side stepping or butt kicks, etc. I never do more than 10 repeats. Love it.

    • ya its awesome! and it really helps with body composition changes like no other! i also just like not having to dedicate 2+ hours to cardio…. the thought of that makes me nauseous. haha 🙂

  2. This looks like one kick-ass sprint workout!! I like to vary up my sprint intervals — lately I’ve been on a kick where I do a straight 30s/30s with hill intervals, but I also use a 45sec/1min ratio every once in a while. Sometimes at the end of one of these sessions, I’ll do 5 reps or so at a 15s full sprint followed by 30 sec rest. Kills me every time!!

  3. I love sprints! I’m with Tara, I always used to run long distance. I did cross country in high school but never saw any results, other than being able to run longer each time. Now that I’ve included sprints and cut out long runs (except for spartan races) both my lifts and physique are much better! Long cardio is boring!!!

    Thank you for doing a post on this 🙂

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