Put the 400m Sprint into Your Program

400m run. It’s a doozy. It’s intense. But before I expand, check out video of this 400m relay. Amazing finish, Phil Healy takes on a soon-to-be Olympian ‘From the depths of Hell’.

400m isn’t the worst if you’re just cruising. But why would you want to just cruise, ever, when you run? You want it to be over as fast as it can be done.

And that’s why you do it. If you play a sport that last longer than 10 seconds, if you want to improve your work capacity or if you want to be a better athlete, it’s nearly mandatory to work running into your program.

Why putting the 400m run into your training program will be the best addition: 

oxidative capacity of energy systems

The time frame you are working during the 400 shows a benefit in nearly every energy system in your body (assuming the time for one sprint around the track lies somewhere between 45 seconds-3 minutes). Fast glycolysis and oxidative energy systems are both kicked into high gear. Fast glycolysis is in charge of any activity lasting longer than 10 seconds but less that 30 seconds and primarily uses muscle glycogen as fuel. The oxidative energy system is in charge of exercise that lasts longer than 3 minutes and primarily uses fat as your fuel.The 400m run is an activity that hits the sweet spot between the two energy systems.  By combining both energy systems, you are getting the best out of your body for any competition that lasts longer than 10 seconds.

How to implement the 400 into your training program today:

By changing up the work:rest ratios you can fine tune the 400 to improve your work capacity.

Work to rest ratios are calculated by taking the time it takes for you to complete one 400m run. For example, if your work to rest ratio is 1:2 and you run the 400m in one minute, you’ll rest two minutes. A few examples of work to rest ratios and which you should use are detailed below.

  • If you are an athlete who generally fatigues throughout the competition or  find yourself gasping for breath earlier than you would hope to, you’ll want to work the 400m with a higher work to rest ratio. A work to rest ratio of anywhere between 1:1 and 2:1 helps improve the oxidative component, training your body to clear lactate more efficiently  with regard to how much time you need to recover. As you improve this component through training, you’ll find that you’re able to last longer, take shorter rest periods and see your heart rate recover quicker with this ratio.
  • If you feel you are slow and less explosive toward the end of competition (if you want to improve sprinting speed at the end of a marathon, bull people over in the fourth quarter, etc.), you are going to want to use a lower work to rest ratio. By using a work to rest ratio as low as 1:6, you allow your muscles to fully clear the lactate accumulated. This training interval improves your speed and power with a full clearing of lactate. So you’ll be stronger, faster and more explosive for activities that last longer than 10 seconds.
  • If you are looking to improve your sprint speed combined with endurance, a ratio of 1:2 to 1:4 is recommended for the 400m. This is the starting point I would use for the majority. If you are an experienced athlete and know where you need to improve, use either of the above examples to fine tune your ratio.


In summation, the 400m is brutal if you go all out. But that’s why you’ve gotta do it.

Peace like Geese,

Mike Goose

Published by mikeg00se

I like to adventure, paint portraits of goats and love family stuff.

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