Ask an Expert: Tony Holler – Post Collegiate Training

Kevin Christian Sprints/Speed 2 Comments


I have read pretty much all of your articles and wanted to know if you would recommend your sprint program setup for a post collegiate athlete. For example, you say that you do not go over 200m in practice even for your 400 runners (my main event), but is that because your athletes are running two meets a week? Or would you still use this setup for an athlete racing once every say 2 or 3 weeks? I come from a high volume endurance based program which I feel like held me back from my full potential so any help with my question would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance and for the great on information on your site!


Thank you for reading my stuff.  I feel terrible for anyone who has gone through counter-productive volume-based training.  Too many distance coaches coach sprinters like distance guys … distance guys do 8 x 400 … sprinters do 8 x 200.  Sucks.

Here’s what I believe … if you train at 100 mph, 80 mph will seem comfortable.  If you train at 60 mph, 80 mph will seem uncomfortable.

Everything is based on max speed.  Improve your max speed, you improve your 400 times.  No need to run more than 200 meters in practice … and even that distance should be rare.  I would rather see a guy run 2×150 @18 seconds with 40 seconds rest than see someone run two 300’s @40 seconds with 2 minutes rest.  Quality over quantity.

“Sprint as fast as possible as often as possible while staying as fresh as possible.” – Me

It doesn’t matter if you are 12 or 32, train fast with low volume.  I’ve had people ask me, would program this work for girls?  Holy cow!  This program is PERFECT for girls.  Does this type of training work for middle schoolers?  Are you kidding me?  This is PERFECT for middle school kids.  Volume-based sprint training (and the 400 is a sprint) causes staleness, soreness, injuries, and depression.  Why destroy kids and make them hate the sport we try to promote?   And remember …

Sprinting is a skill that can’t be improved when fatigued.



Arntz Schulz (1888): “For every substance, small doses stimulate, moderate doses inhibit, large doses kill.”

Paracelsus (1493-1541): “Everything is a poison, nothing is a poison, it all depends on the dosage.”



Don’t worry about lactate workouts until the last 8-12 weeks of the competitive season.  Never do more than two lactate workouts (get dizzy, nauseous, etc.) in one week (and meets count as a lactate workout).

Rest > Practice

Health > Training

Happy, enthusiastic people are capable of amazing things.  Don’t poison yourself.


You may have seen this but it explains my take on energy systems and why my ideas work.

Teaching Science and Coaching Sprinters


I like Latif’s take on speed reserve (fastest guys win).

Why You Need to Develop a Speed Reserve


And … this is my favorite Chris Korfist article …

Building Championship Speed in the Off Season: Interview with Chris Korfist


By the way, “If you ain’t wearing spikes, you ain’t sprinting.” – Boo

And … “If you ain’t getting timed, you ain’t sprinting” – Me


Strength is good.  Weight gain is bad.  Sprinting is an incredible strength builder.   Sprint to get strong.

Weight lifting hurts more sprinters than it helps.

Until someone shows me direct correlation between being good at certain lift and being fast, I will remain uncommitted.


Jumping improves sprinting.

Sprinting improves jumping.

Running slow improves your capacity to run slow.

Vertical force can not be practiced or improved when tired.



John Brumund-Smith sent this thoughtful email after reading the article above …


           Saw your post on ITCCCA today and wanted to ask you a few questions.  I’m shifting more from a Clyde Hart-style training method to a sprint-based method this year.  I’m also shifting down from three days/week lifting to two days/week a cycle earlier this year.  I believe lifting is a huge part of our program, though I’ll admit that there is no direct correlation between, say, your max squat and your 400m time.  However, I’m curious as to why you say weight lifting hurts more than it helps.  First off, let me give you an example of what we do with our lifting program.

  • Don’t do any “heavy” lifts.  We emphasize single-leg squats and lunge walk instead of squats, and incline bench instead of regular bench.
  • Five lifts per session, total.  Three sets per lift.  Lifting shouldn’t take more than 25-30 minutes.  We also do pre-lifts to ensure the body is ready to transition from running to lifting.
  •  Emphasis on explosive, total-body exercises the athletes can handle.  Many of our lifts could fit well in a body weight circuit (like Partner Glute Ham Raise).  Our athletes don’t do Hang Cleans unless they already learned how to do them in football, and they don’t do Snatch or Dead Lift or anything like that.  Too risky.
  •  Lifting always comes after running.  Only exception would be certain days when the only space we’re given is the wrestling room (to share with the girls team).  Then we’ll have one group do plyometrics/bounding while another groups does their explosive lifting.  Then we’ll switch.

            Each kid gets their own cardstock lifting sheet so they can chart their progress and know what they have lifted in the past.  We teach the kids how to perform each lift, and walk around to make sure they’re performing them well.  We play music, of course.  Overall, it’s not something the kids dread.  Though we don’t do “beach” lifts (I eliminated strict bicep/tricep lifts two years ago), the athletes like the idea that they’re going to get a little more definition.

            My first year as head coach, I’ll admit our lifting program wasn’t that great.  I’d write down on the whiteboard which lifts they were supposed to do that day.  Didn’t put too much thought into the sets/reps.  We lifted twice a week, four lifts per sessions (two upper body, two lower body).  The next year (2013), I put more thought into it, but still just wrote it on the whiteboard.  We saw improvements.  The next year, I started with the cards.  Saw immediate improvement.  Kids were more motivated in the weight room.  Their bodies looked better, and they ran better.  Our emphasis is functional strength.

           From my own personal experience, I know that lifting can help more than it hurts.  I’m a skinny guy and was never able to lift much.  We had a program my first few years in college, but it wasn’t anything special.  Then we got a specific strength guy to write our workouts the next year.  That, in addition to improving my form, helped me dramatically.  I’d been stuck on 50-seconds in the 400m for four years.  Ran 49.0 the first year of having a good lifting program, then 47.9 the next year.  I know it helped me a lot.

           I’m just curious as to what your thoughts are on lifting.

           John Brumund-Smith


I like your strength program. I like it a lot.

My general ideas are:

  • Pulls are better than pushes
  • Single-leg better than conventional squats
  • No lifting on rest-recovery-growth days
  • No matter what the football coach believes, I go along with it.  I’m a professional compromiser.

I know the strength training in Chris Korfist’s basement looks nothing like J.J. Watt’s propaganda.

I know Boo Schexnayder understands the do’s and don’ts of building a better athlete.

I know Cal Dietz gets measurable results from Triphasic Training.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 5.26.33 PM

Cal Dietz will speak twice at the Dec 11-12 Track-Football Activation Consortium.

For a skinny guy, like you, lifting can be an incredible performance enhancer.

Here is my experience.  I’ve had several football-focused athletes who loved the weight room more than they loved competition.  These guys chased “the look”.  You know what I’m talking about.

One local training center (I won’t name names), claims to be “Superman’s phone booth”.  The guy in charge is an ex-NFL guy with hypertrophic muscles, great hair, and perfect tattoos  Kids want to get big and profiteers feed the monster.

Here are some examples:

photo 1-7

This guy had Olympic potential but body-building became his focus. Too big in the upper body. Never placed at state meet as a junior or senior. Still holds PN’s 400 school record at 49.2 … and he did it as a sophomore.


Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 5.47.01 PM

This guy got really big too. Trained at the same place.  Ran good for four years but never won a state medal. 

Back in 1995, I had a high jumper who went 7’2″.  Even more impressive, he cleared 7’0″ or better 13 times his senior year.  Damon Lampley went to Iowa State free of charge for five years but never cleared 7’0″.  Damon put on 15 pounds and got strong as hell, but the strength he gained did not translate to performance.

Kapri Bibbs plays for the Denver Broncos.  Kapri ran 11.9 as a freshmen, 11.0 as a sophomore.  Then Kapri got big and never became an elite sprinter.  No one caught Kapri from behind when he became an All-American at Colorado State, but he was too big to run sub-11.00 in the 100 meters.


Kapri’s size made him a rugged, powerful running back who could take a hit.  Hell, he’s in the NFL now so who can question his choice to get big.  However, the 4.67 he ran at the NFL Combine probably kept him from getting drafted.  Kapri signed as a free agent with Denver and is presently on their practice squad.

Functional strength is complicated, but I know it when I see it.


Arguably the best sprinter in the history of Illinois, Kahmari Montgomery, winner of the 3A 100, 200, and 400 last year. Functional strength? Yep.  Click to enlarge.

If you want to learn more about low-volume sprint training, consider attending the Track-Football Activation Consortium Dec 11-12 at Montini High School.  You will be surrounded by 150 like-minded coaches and athletes.  We have people flying in from all over the country to attend this event.  The cost is $150 if you register online before Friday, December 11th.  The cost at the door is $225.  The consortium will be held at Montini High School in Lombard.  Speakers are staying at the Hyatt Place Lombard.

Purchase tickets here:  payment link

The above post is from a coach looking for insight. If you can help by answering their question(s), please submit a comment below.
If you have your own question(s), please submit them here.

Comments 2

  1. I understand the approach to sprinting, especially no jogging. What running do you have the athletes do instead of jogging? They can’t go from the dynamic exercises right into all out sprinting.

  2. I understand the approach to sprinting during the workout, especially no jogging. What running do you have the athletes do instead of jogging for the warm up? They can’t go from the dynamic exercises right into all-out sprinting. At the end of the exercises, I usually have my sprinters run four “build-ups” where they increase their speed in runs of about 30-50 meters. In the last one they should reach top speed.

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