Athletes of all ages want to reach their full potential in speed and power. These three keys will give you an understanding of what it takes to run faster, train harder and develop sound running mechanics.
Study and implement correct body positions
To put yourself into proper running positions, you must first understand the movements involved in accelerating and sprinting. Your body always leans forward when you're running. At no point during a sprint should your center of gravity be behind you. During acceleration, your body should have a 45-degree forward lean to load your legs and explosively propel yourself forward as quickly as possible.
Once you have taken off and begun your drive phase, you should aim to reach triple extension in your back leg—i.e., full extension in the hip, knee, and ankle joints—making a straight line from your head to your foot. While your back leg is extending, your front leg should be doing the counter-movement of driving the knee up with the foot dorsiflexed.
In addition to knee drive and triple extension, a powerful arm action must take place to facilitate peak potential of your sprint. Arms should be at 90 degrees and firing from your hip and past your cheek. Many sprinters feel that the movement is complete when they get their hands in that position. What they don't understand is that it starts at the shoulder and is emphasized with the elbows firing up.
Optimal movement patterns in sprinting rely on a powerful knee drive with a forceful and explosive step on the backside and aggressive arm action on each side. Below are some sprint drills that really emphasize form and technique.
- High Knees
- Alternating Fast Leg
- 3-Step Hold
Increase stride length and stride frequency
Stride length is the amount of distance you cover in one step. Stride frequency is the rate at which your legs move. The goal is to have these work together to ultimately increase your speed. Too much of both will result in overstriding or cutting your step too early, before you get an effective stride.
Finding the right length and frequency takes practice. It requires drills and repetition. A great drill to improve them is Acceleration Ladders. You start with a short distance between spaces and increase the distance as you run through, forcing your stride to get longer to reach the next space.
You can also perform overspeed training. This gives you the sensation that you are running faster than your top speed. The drill is set up to pull you forward using a bungee. When you begin, you must push out strong and make your steps fast, because the bungee will be pulling you forward at an accelerated rate. You will have no choice but to increase your stride length and frequency.
Another drill that is great for overspeed training is Treadmill Turnovers. Start by standing on the rails of a treadmill while it is moving at high speed. When you're ready, step onto the belt and force your legs to turn over quickly. This drill should be done with a spotter or under supervision. You want to keep your energy system anaerobic, so you should aim to perform this drill for only about 10 seconds per set.
The more you practice these drills and put yourself in the proper positions, the more natural they will come in your sprints.
Perform resistance training and plyometric drills
When you train to become faster, it is crucial to include a resistance training component. Performing exercises like Squats, Power Cleans, Bench Press, Deadlifts, Lunges and Step-Ups will make you a stronger, more explosive athlete. A sprinter should have a strong lower body and a strong core.
In addition to lifting, you should be performing plyometric exercises during practice. Plyos are the most important tool for getting faster. The help you build explosion in your legs, teach you power relative to speed, and allow you to perform reactive and efficient jumping drills. Among the most important plyometric drills are Bounding, Box Jumps, Hurdle Hops and Ankle Hops. These strengthen the smaller muscles as well as the primary muscles—all geared toward the goal of getting faster.
The following is a sample training program that allows plyometric workouts 2 days a week and resistance training 3 days a week.
Follow these 3 keys and you will be on the right path to breaking personal bests.
|Lift 1||Plyometric 1||Lift 2||Plyometric 2||Lift 3|
|Power Clean 5x5||Ankle Hops 3x20||Squat 5x5||Ankle Hops 3x20||Bench 5x5|
|Front Squat 4x8||Tuck Jumps 3x12||Deadlift 5x5||Tuck Jumps 3x12||Push Jerk 4x5|
|Seated DB Shoulder Press 3x10Single Arm DB Row 3x10 each||Hurdle Hops 3x5||Incline DB Bench 3x10Seated Rows 3x10||Hurdle Hops 3x5||LatPull Downs 3x10Front/ Lateral Raise 3x8 each|
|Broad Jumps 3x10||Single Leg Partner Jumps 3x10 Each|
|Bulgarian Split Squat3x10 eachWeighted Glute Bridges 3x10||Single Leg Bounds 2x20 yards||DB Curls 3x10Cable Triceps Extension 3x10||Box Jumps 3x5||Lunges 3x8 eachStep-ups 3x5 each|
|Right, Right, Left, Left Bounds 3x30 yards||Leg Extension 3x10Leg Curls 3x10||Depth Jumps 3x5|
|KB Swings 3x10||Bounds 4x30 Yards||Seated Box Jumps 3x5||Single Leg RDL 3x8|
|Core 1 (Medicine Ball)||Core 2 (Hanging Core)||Core 3 (Core Stability)|
|Russian Twists 3x25 each||Double Leg Knee Lift 3x10||Plank 3x30 seconds|
|Pike Ups 3x15||Straight Leg Lift 3x10||Side Plank 3x30 seconds each|
|Toe Touches 3x25||Side Raises 3x10 each||Plank Pushups 3x20 each|
|Sit Ups 3x15||Heels to Heaven 3x10||Stability Ball Plank Circles 3x8 each|
|Single Leg Pike Ups 3x20 each||Straight Leg Holds 3x15 seconds||Ab Roll Outs 3x10|
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