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400m Hurdles Training and Tips

Updated on June 6, 2014
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The 400 meter hurdles is a challenging race. There are many skills and abilities needed to master this race. These same skills and abilities are needed for the 300m hurdles race; although the 300m is not as common as the 400m.

Skills and Abilities needed:

  • Strength
  • Speed
  • Endurance
  • Proper Hurdling Mechanics
  • Flexibility
  • Rhythm & Timing
  • Acceleration

Strength

Strength is essential in you want to get a jump start on your competition out of the blocks. You need power to thrust yourself forward from the start of the race and up and over the hurdles. Two of the most important muscles that you want to strengthen are your glutes and hamstrings. You want to focus on the muscles that are essential for hurdling but do not neglect the others. Doing this often results in injury.

  • Squats
  • Plyometrics
  • Jumps
  • Cleans
  • Military Press
  • Stair/Stadium Running

Strength Development in the 400m Hurdles Event

Speed Training

Speed training is essential for the 400m race whether it involves hurdles or not. It doesn't matter how good you are at getting over the hurdle if the rest of your race is slow. The strength exercises will help with your speed, but here are some running drills as well.

  • 4 X 40m
  • 4 X 30m using blocks to start
  • 4 X 30m with a 20m jogging start
  • Hill Sprints

400m Speed Work

Endurance Training

Once you have the speed, you need to practice maintaining that speed. This is a special form of endurance the requires you to increase your lactic acid threshold. It won't help you if you can run 100 meters in 10 seconds if it takes you an additional minute to run the other 300 meters.

Your endurance training for the 400m does not need to be 5 miles per day. The kind of endurance training you need as a sprinter is not long slow distance. You should be covering more than your race distance for endurance work but short enough distances to still do at a quick speed.

  • 100m Repeats with 100m jog in between
  • 200m Repeats
  • 500m Repeats only slightly slower that race pace


Eilidh Child in the 2012 Summer Olympics
Eilidh Child in the 2012 Summer Olympics | Source

Mechanics

The mechanics of hurdling do not come naturally to most. You need to practice the motions over and over until your body thinks that this is the way it was made to move. The more comfortable your body and mind is with the mechanics of hurdling, the less fear their will be and therefore, less hesitation. You want it to feel like second nature to throw your body over and obstacle while running.

Illustrated Sprint Hurdles Technique


Flexibility

Throwing your entire body over a hurdle requires you to have a lot of flexibility in your hips. If your joints are stiff and your muscles are tight, you will not be able to have the range of motion necessary for proper hurdling mechanics.

  • One of the most common forms of flexibility training for hurdles is to simply "walk" over the hurdle.
  • Perform leg swings by holding onto the wall and swinging one leg at a time as far forward and backward as possible. Do the same thing, but the leg should move side to side instead of front to back.
  • Place one leg up on the hurdle and lean forward to touch your toes. Switch legs.
  • Sit on the ground in transitional hurdle form; one leg straight out in front of you, the other bent at a 45 degree angle behind you. Lean forward, hold it and then switch.

Rhythm & Timing

While racing in the 400m Hurdles, you need to run like a well-oiled machine. You can't afford to stutter or hesitate as you are approaching the hurdle. Your movements need to be smooth in order to not lose any precious seconds during the race.

Acceleration

In a perfect world, your hurdling timing and technique would be so flawless that you would not lose any of the momentum you have built, once you have landed after going over a hurdle. But, the reality is that you will lose some momentum and you need to be able to get back up to speed quickly. This is where acceleration comes into the picture. The faster you can accelerate, the sooner you can get to the next hurdle. The training for acceleration is much like that of the speed and strength workouts. If you are working on your speed and strength, you will improve your acceleration speed. This is because acceleration is all about the exploding type of power.

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    • Learning in Life profile imageAUTHOR

      Megan Smith 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Wow thanks! I ran the 300m hurdles in high school. Too bad I didn't have a good coach back then. We were never taught all of this. We were shown how to do it ad expected to just do it.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      Carly Sullens 

      6 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Wow, this is a great hub. I wish hub pages were around when I ran track back in high school, I could of used your hub. Way to go, coach.

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