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400 metres Training

A training program has to be developed to meet the individual needs of the athlete and take into consideration many factors: gender, age, strengths, weaknesses, objectives, training facilities etc. As all athletes have different needs, a single program suitable for all athletes is not possible. The program supplied here is just an example and will require updates to meet your specific aims and objectives.

Before starting any training, it is recommended you have a medical examination to ensure it is safe for you to do so.

Specific Training

The 400m sprinter derives 14% of its fuel from the anaerobic alactic (phosphagen) energy system, 48% from the anaerobic lactic (glycolytic) energy system and 38% from the aerobic system. The following table provides possible training loads for the development of each energy system. The "% effort" column is calculated using the athletes current 100m time.

Energy System Quality % effort Recovery Rep Distance Total distance
Anaerobic Alactic
Sp Power 95-100% >3 minutes 30m to 80m 200m to 400m
SpE Capacity 85-95% >8 minutes 150m to 400m 400m to 800m
Anaerobic Lactic
SE1 Power 75-85% 1:4 active 100m to 300m 800m to 1600m
SE2 Capacity 65-75% 1:2 active 400m to 700m 1600m to 3000m
Aerobic E1 Power 55-65% 1:1 active 1km to 3km 3000m to 5000m
E2 Capacity 45-55% 1:1 active 1km to 3km 5000m to 8000m

Overview of the Training Program

The seasons training plan is based on six phases where each phase comprises a repeated four-week program. The workload in the first three weeks of the four-week program increase each week (easy, medium, hard) and the fourth week comprises active recovery and tests to monitor training progress. The four-week cycles aim to:

  • Build you up to a level of fitness (3 weeks)
  • Test, recovery and adjustment of the training program (1 week)
  • Build you up to a higher level of fitness (3 weeks)
  • Test, recovery and adjustment of the training program (1 week)
  • Build you up to an even higher level of fitness (3 weeks)
  • and so on

Remember a training program is athlete specific, and the results of the tests in the fourth week can be used to adjust the training in the next four-week cycle to address any limitations.

The content and quantity of training in each week and phase will depend on many factors. The Planning page provides an insight into the process of data gathering and preparing training programs.

Example Training Plan & Programs

The objective of each phase, with links to examples of a season's training plan and four-week training programs for phases 1, 2 and 3, are as follows:

  • Training Plan - General overview of the season by phases
  • Phase 1 - General development of strength, mobility, endurance and basic technique
  • Phase 2 - Development of specific fitness and advanced technical skills
  • Phase 3 - Competition experience - the achievement of qualification times for the main competition
  • Phase 4 - Adjustment of the technical model, preparation for the main competition
  • Phase 5 - Competition experience and achievement of outdoor objectives
  • Phase 6 - Active recovery - planning preparation for next season

The content of the four-week programs in phases four and five depends very much on the athlete's progress and competitive races. Your aim in these phases is to address any limitations the athlete may have to bring him/her to a peak of performance for the major competition in phase five.

Training Pace Calculator

Enter Your 100m Time, the Training Distance, the Training Efforts and then select the "Calculate Time Window" button.

Your Target 100m Time seconds   Training Distance metres
Training Efforts %   to    %  
From min   secs   To min   secs

400 metres Race Focus

  • Start and first 100 metres: Fast start is important; maintain a good relaxed rhythm round the bend staying close to the line
  • Second 100 metres: Maintain speed and rhythm with a fast cadence - focus on fast feet to maintain concentration on the back straight
  • Third 100 metres: Stay close to the line, concentrate on maintaining rhythm and drive the arms faster going into the final part of the bend
  • Final 100 metres: Maintain momentum and fast arm action, drive and sprint right through the finish line

400 metres Potential

Take your best 200 metres time and double it - subtract the result from your best 400 metres time. Suitability to 400 metres racing:

  • below 4 seconds - excellent
  • 4 to 5 seconds - average
  • above 5 seconds - poor

To determine your potential 400 metres time (based on your current 100 metres time) and the pace for every 100 metres of the 400 metres race visit the 400 metres pace page.

Evaluation Tests

The following evaluation tests can be used to monitor the sprint athlete's development:

Sprint Time Predictors

Based on test results, it is possible to predict potential times for a sprint event. The available sprint time predictors are:

Rules of Competition

The competition rules for this event are available from:

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2001) 400 metres Training [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

Related Pages

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic:

Associated Books

The following books provide more information related to this topic:

  • Sprints and Relays, F. W. Dick
  • Sprinting and Hurdling, P. Warden
  • How to Teach Track Events, M. Arnold