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How to Build Muscle Olympic Style: Part 2

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Muscle

In part one of this series we discussed how to build muscle like the always-jacked-big-biceps-and-triceps sporting male gymnasts. In part two we are going to address the other most muscular athletes at the summer Olympics, the sprinters. If you took a survey of most average guys I am willing to bet that 99.9% of them would choose to look like an Olympic sprinter over just about any other physique option you gave them. Lean muscular and athletic looking; what could be better than that? I would even go so far as to argue that guys like Maurice Greene and Shawn Crawford (pictured) posses the perfect male physique. Head turning both aesthetically and athletically.

So how do you build that kind of functional, muscular physique? Well first of all you need to train with the intention of targeting the fast twitch muscle fibers. This can be done by using heavy weights for relatively low reps and lifting explosively. Stick with compound exercises like cleans, snatches, push presses, squats and deadlifts. Always accelerate as fast as you can on the concentric, or lifting portion, of every set and control the eccentric, or lowering portion, in one to two seconds. Never waste time with slow lifting speeds, especially on the way up. That limits the amount of weight you can lift and is completely unnatural. In real life if you bent over to pick up a box, would you take four seconds to lift it up off the ground and eight seconds to put it back down? Of course not. Muscles are made for speed; don’t force them to do something they don’t want to do by lifting slowly. Train slow, get slow. Remember that.

Another key component in learning how to build muscle like an Olympic sprinter is to be sure that you are using the right cardio/ conditioning methods. Too many people waste their time doing regular cardio like riding a bike, using a treadmill, stairclimber, or elliptical machine at a steady pace for 20-45 minutes. While this type of activity will burn some calories and can help you get leaner, it is far from the most effective or time efficient method. You don’t think sprinters do that, do you? Sprinters, obviously, sprint. When you compare the sprinters physique to the marathoners physique it is readily obvious which form of activity burns the most fat, builds the most muscle and produces the most appealing physique.

While excessive steady state aerobic or cardio training can actually burn muscle tissue, high intensity methods like sprinting can actually help you build muscle. You read that right; sprinting can actually have a double pronged effect of not only burning fat, but simultaneously inducing an anabolic state and helping you build muscle. I don’t know about you but that makes it a hands-down winner in my book, any day.

I recommend that you vary your sprint workouts between regular, flat ground sprints, hill sprints, sled sprints and Prowler sprints. Just because you are not an athlete doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train like one in the effort to look like one. If you are training for speed, you will need a lower volume of training, longer rest periods and probably shouldn’t sprint all out more than twice per week. If you are simply training to get ripped you can sprint at differing intensities and durations 3-4 days per week. Be sure to warm up properly beforehand and then proceed to your work sets which should be about 10-30 seconds of intense sprinting, for 15-30 minutes (total workout time) with 30-90 second rest intervals between. You could run several 40 yard sprints with a minute rest or a few 100’s and then walk back as your rest interval. There are a million different options, the important thing as that you do them.

Now you know how to build muscle like an Olympic sprinter and get absolutely ripped at the same time. Get ready to start turning heads in just a few months with your new physique. Good luck and train hard.


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16 Responses to How to Build Muscle Olympic Style: Part 2

  1. Pat August 28, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    “Be sure to warm up properly beforehand and then do about 15-30 minutes of intense sprinting with 30-90 second rest intervals. ”

    I’m assuming you mean 15-30 SECONDS of intense sprinting?

  2. afshn August 28, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    to the previous guy, total sprint session being 15-30 mins

  3. Bob Dannegger August 28, 2008 at 2:01 pm #

    Jason, I like your strength training information and have used it, but as a 67 year old marathon running ectormorph I don’t think you and just about every other traiiner on the internet selling their programs are being totally honest with setting their readers expectations. I don’t care how much weight you lift and how many intervals you do, it’s dammed hard for an ectomorph and to a lessor extent an endomorph to look like a sprinter who has the natural body type of a mesomporph.

    Comparing the body of a marathoner to a sprinter is like comparing apples to oranges, especially when so many compare fat marathoners who run 5-6 hour marathons to elite sprinters. Have you ever seen a race for non-elite sprinters? I have and some of them are fat as well and not very good. Same for a lot of bodybuilders. If any comparisons are to be made at all it should be between elite sprinters and elite marathoners. In that case, I doubt the % body fat is much different. Sure the sprinter has more muscle and a better physique but not necessarily any healthier. I realize that the only way to preserve muscle mass as we age is to do some type of strengthening exercise (personally I like deadlifts and rows) but it doesn’t have to be at the exclusion of a person’s other fitness or sporting interests.

    The most important thing for people is to find an activity that they like and enjoy and they are more likely to enjoy and stick with something that they can do well. If it is running or biking instead of weightlifting they can lose plenty of weight doing that “cardio”. Sure many runners have problems and I’ve had my share over the last 25 years, but I’ve also had my share from lifting weights as well. There are probably as many or more people with screwed up shoulders from bench pressing as there are runners with screwed up knees.

    In summary, IMHO the most important thing is to try and live like whatever kind of athlete you are best at and enjoy enough to stay with it.

    • AlexDP November 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

      Sprinters are usually ectomorphs..

  4. admin August 28, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    Yes, total workout session should last 15-30 minutes. I clarified it above.


  5. Corey Bachmeier, M.Ed August 28, 2008 at 2:27 pm #

    Well said,

    Proper intensity is key. The problem many people have is that they are simply, “out of shape”.

    Keep up the great work!


  6. Billy August 29, 2008 at 8:47 am #

    what would you recommend for the above style sprinting workout once the weather turns nasty and snowy (like where i live). Treadmill sprints? Skipping rope?

  7. bob September 1, 2008 at 1:38 pm #

    Nothing other than trying to figure out how to schedule the workout on the 26 week program. Went sucessfully thru the beginners and now am on the split but I am not sure how to work the weekly workout sessions call me simple minded or stupid but I don’t get the sequences maybe because In three months I will be 70 but alzheimers aside it says do on week one 1 thru 3 first week start the next week (2) with workout 4 then 2 and then 1 and the next week begin with workout 3 etc. and so on. What is the and so on? Is it back to workout 4 or 21 again. Sorry to be confused but I want to get this right as the routine has worked great up to this point. Even Gironda’s can take a back seat as I used his many yrs ago and made good gains. So the long question. What is the right progression for the exercises per week. I read the manual and still is no help thank you Bob Mills

  8. jasonferruggia July 10, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    Well said. I don’ t agree with everything you wrote but you bring up some valid points. The fact of the matter is that sprinting is always going to be better than distance running for those looking to get bigger, stronger and leaner.

    And I would never recommend that you exclude anything you like doing. But if you have to choose sprints will always provide better results.

  9. jasonferruggia July 10, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    Thanks Corey

  10. jasonferruggia July 10, 2009 at 7:05 pm #

    I still recommend sprints.

  11. Alejandro November 1, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    Hi Jason! I have sprinted a few times since its one of the things that I hear you more highly suggest and I actually liked it quite a bit, but I often end up not sprinting because when I sprint I feel it hurts my recovery instead of speeding it up… almost always two days after a sprint I can still feel it when I work out. It may be because I am a beginer, I dont know. I weight around 120-130 pounds, am about 1, 60m height (think thats around 5, 2 feet). I Bench around 116 pounds and I can and do use chin ups regularly on my work outs (generally do the “T” verion, with my neck touching the bar. 3 sets of 12 reps)

    Sorry for the convulted question, I would be really happy if you could answer it to me.

  12. James July 3, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    @Pat, at least quote it right: “Be sure to warm up properly beforehand and then proceed to your work sets which should be about 10-30 seconds of intense sprinting, for 15-30 minutes (total workout time) with 30-90 second rest intervals between.”

  13. Ryan August 26, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Great post! I have a quick question though, even though I feel it’s a dumb one… Will sprinting at a “get ripped” level be all the sufficient excersize one needs to get that physique? Obviously the legs will bulk up and abs would look good, but say for chest, shoulders, and arms? Looking at the pic of Shawn Crawford, the man is in shape all over. What kind of lifting needs to be done and when does it need to be done between the 3-4 days of sprinting to get an overall “beast” look like Shawn Crawford?

  14. Rob October 30, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    I do sprinting three times a week (not on consecutive days) and on days off I do basic upper-body exercises (push ups, sit ups, pull ups, etc.). I keep reading articles like this one that suggest exercises like squats and deadlifts for building muscles in the legs. What that says to me is that sprinting alone is not enough as a leg-building exercise, which doesn’t make sense to me for two reasons:
    -If sprinting alone isn’t enough, then how come even the most well-trained athletes can’t sprint at top speed for much more than 20 seconds?
    -If sprinting alone isn’t enough, then how come the body requires at least 48 hours of rest after a full sprint workout? Why can’t we just sprint every day?

    If someone had the answers to these questions I’d greatly appreciate it. I feel like both sprinting and the leg exercises mentioned above both break down muscle tissue, I just don’t see the extra benefits that squats and deadlifts would offer that sprinting won’t. Another question I have is this: If I need at least 48 hours of rest after a sprint workout, then when am I supposed to be doing my weight work? On days off from the track? Am I really supposed to be doing more work on my legs while my legs are supposed to be recovering? It’s not that I’m too lazy to commit to the weight room (I used to spend a lot of time in there), it’s that I have yet to see a real physiological explanation for why my body needs it, and until I see one I’m not going to waste my time.

  15. connor neild July 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    should I Be lifting weights if im 15 and im a 100m sprinter