Ignore Circuit & Weight Training at Your Peril – Lessons from Peter & Seb Coe

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  • British Milers Club. Volume 2, Issue 4, Autumn 1992.
  • Better Training for Distance Runners. By David E. Martin and Peter N. Coe.

“It was the long and careful attention to strength training, that enabled a slightly built Seb Coe to run successfully in 400m events and relays” (Seb’s 400m PB 46.87)  – Peter Coe

Seb Coe strength training

Strength Training

Peter Coe always argued that carefully tailored strength training was crucial for the development of Sebastian Coe.  To be a top middle distance athlete Peter Coe argued that:

“A middle distance runner needs to have good repeatable 400m speed. Any sprint coach will tell you that over and above the mastery of starting and technique generally, the absolute must for really fast work is raw animal strength”.   – Peter Coe

Coe also argued that the common myth that weight training led to muscle bulk was incorrect. Stating that:

“Exercises to develop strength and endurance are not those used for producing hypertrophy”

Strength Training Guidelines

The following guidelines outline Coe’s circuit and weight training philosophy:

  • Strength training should not be restricted to the winter months but should be a year-round commitment. However, the exercises should be tapered down right before the period of peak performance (target races etc).
  • Flexibility and stretching is a vital aspect of circuit and strength training.
  • With exercises, progression is best made by increasing the number of repetitions, rather than increased the weight/load.
  • Progress with the circuit training ever so smoothly and slowly, to avoid injuries.

Seb Coe’s Circuit\Base Training Program

The following is a typical circuit training session that was completed regularly by Seb Coe during his career:



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