Is it possible to increase my sprinting speed?

It seems that the obvious answer would be yes, but I guess the real question is “to what extent?” That is, how much could I actually expect to increase my running speed? How much is just based on natural innate ability (speed) and how much is training? I’m not particularly fast, naturally, though I am tall and have long legs so that’s certainly an advantage.

The related question is how to train to increase speed. Muscles are the obvious answer, but I wonder the following:

  • If I built up my leg muscles, say through weight training in the gym, such that I could now press twice the weight I could before, would I "magically" be faster the next time I went out and sprinted? 
  • If I didn't weight train, but instead just went out and sprinted 3 times a day, would I "magically" get faster over time? 

Sorry for the stupid questions, but I guess I just don’t get the way muscles and strength relate to speed. Also, which are the most important leg muscles for speed running? Quads? Hamstrings? Calf?

All of the above. If you over train your quads, to the point that they’re much stronger than your hammies, it is possible for your quad to flex hard enough to literally rip your hammie. I learned this the hard way. :frowning:

Carbo-loading does nothing for sprint speed.

Your absolute sprint speed is largely innate but training is needed to get you to your limit. If you don’t have alot of natural speed you won’t get much faster. In high school(long time ago) I could squat 350 at a body weight of 130 yet my best 100y was only 15.2.

Sprinting speed can be greatly improved by proper technique, and flexibility and weight training. However your top sprinting speed is mostly determined by your physiology, such as hip width, leg length, and muscle fiber type distribution. So yes, you can get faster, but your limit may be lower than you wish.

Just get a biopsy to see if you have what it takes to be a good sprinter. If you have more slow twitch muscles than fast twitch ones, you are going to be a slug in the sprint compared to other top sprinters. You won’t be able to change that very much. However, you will be better at endurance events compared to the pure sprinters.

*Note, you will likely be dead after a biopsy.

There are a couple factors here. As mentioned, great sprinters have the genes to be great sprinters, but they wouldn’t be great if they didn’t train properly. I’m not going to get into all the details, but if you want to be really fast, you should focus on fast movements–in particular, good sprinters are absolute beasts at the olympic lifts. Max strength movements like the squat and deadlift are also important, but not as important as speed movements. The leg press is of questionable value in general but almost certainly useless for sprinting because its biomechanics don’t really correspond to anything you can do outside of the gym.

If you want to find a lot of info, go poking around the T-Nation archives. There’s bound to be something good there.