Speed and Power

Get ready for your gold medal with Canada’s top decathlete

Damian Warner
Photo: Claus Andersen

Speed and power are the weapons that allow me to unleash my best performance in every decathlon. From sprints to the 1,500 metres, high jump to long jump and discus to javelin, the demands on a decathlete’s body and mind are intense.

But when competition starts at the Pan Am Games this month in Toronto, I will know I have put in the training required to aim for the top of the podium. Thanks to my coaches, including strength coach Maria Mountain, I will be ready. Here’s a sample of the workouts I do to give myself that shot. Use my workout as a goal to work toward. Modify your speed, reps and intensity relative to your fitness and build yourself into your own multisport champion.

Decathlon’s 10 Events

The decathlon is a two-day track and field competition where points are awarded based on performance in each of 10 events. Here is the order of events for competitors at this summer’s Pan Am Games:

Day 1, July 22

  • 100 Metres
  • Long Jump
  • Shot Put
  • High Jump
  • 400 Metres

Day 2, July 23

  • 110 Metre Hurdles
  • Discus
  • Pole Vault
  • Javelin
  • 1,500 Metres

Warm Up

Warm-up with foam rolling, a static stretch circuit and dynamic movements. Damian will typically complete 6-7 dynamic warm-up exercises that vary from workout to workout, but might include; walking leg cradle, high kick to inverted reach, walking quad stretch, and hip shift down and back.


1. Dumbbell Bench Press

Using dumbbells forces Damian to use his shoulder stabilizers more than with a straight bar and it highlights if there are strength deficits from side to side.

  • Keep your feet flat on the floor, maintain a stable torso and drive the dumbbells up with a powerful contraction of your chest and shoulder muscles.
  • To make this exercise more challenging, press one dumbbell at a time.
  • When working on maximizing force production use heavy loads and low repetitions in training; four sets of 2-4 repetitions.

2. Staggered Stance Med Ball Rotary Pass

The goal is a quick, powerful, rotational impulse, so stand quite close to the wall.

  • The foot farthest from the wall is forward and both knees are bent in a semi-split squat position.
  • Using the hips, torso and arms, the medicine ball is thrown as hard and as fast as possible at the wall. The goal is to link the throws without any hesitation between reps.
  • Damian does 3 sets of 5 reps on each side.

3. Single Leg Squat

This is a great exercise to build strength and stability in the legs, hips and torso. To build maximum strength the load is heavy and reps are low.

  • Focus on maintaining a neutral back position throughout the exercise and exploding out of the bottom position while maintaining perfect knee alignment. (Do not let the knee collapse inward as you drive up.)
  • To translate strength into power, immediately complete five explosive double-leg jumps over micro-hurdles, then complete four explosive squat jumps trying to get as high as possible, as quickly as possible.
  • Rest 3 minutes.
  • Damian does 4 sets of 2 reps on each leg.
Single Leg Squat
[/media-credit] Photo: Claus Andersen

4. Hip Drive

One of our go-to exercises to build posterior chain strength (hamstrings, glutes, back extensors), the hip drive is a staple in Damian’s program.

  • Sit on the floor with a barbell over the front of your hips and shoulder blades resting on a soft plyo box or weight lifting bench.
  • Brace the torso and press feet straight down into the ground while lifting the barbell with the hips. Lift as high as possible without extending the lower back.
  • Contract the glutes.
  • Damian does 3 sets of 8 reps.