Sprinting is a dynamic athletic endeavor that demands explosive power and precise technique. Whether you are a competitive sprinter aiming for the podium or looking to enhance your speed in your sport, mastering the art of acceleration is fundamental to success on the track or field.
Boosting acceleration requires a strategic blend of strength training, plyometrics, and sprint-specific exercises, pivotal in unlocking your full potential during those initial strides.
These sprint exercises are meticulously designed to boost acceleration. How you accelerate determines the speed of your sprint.
Embrace the intensity, hone your power, and propel yourself forward with these essential sprint acceleration exercises.
Use Horizontal Exercises and Force
Often, in the gym, equipment vertically trains your body. For instance, deadlifts and squats are excellent for increasing strength. But sprinting is an activity that needs sport-specific training and movements, especially the acceleration phase, because of the body lean.
The emphasis on the horizontal force in sprinting is rooted in specific sprinting biomechanics. While vertical forces are important, horizontal forces are mandatory to enhance your potential to accelerate.
Sprinting is a forward-oriented activity with the primary goal of moving swiftly in a horizontal direction. A horizontal force is needed to accelerate. It is directly responsible for propelling the sprinter forward, generating force from and on the ground.
Stride Length and Force Production
Horizontal force contributes significantly to stride length. The longer the stride, the more ground a sprinter covers with each step, leading to increased speed. But don’t overstride; it will slow you down. You must use your natural stride to put force into the ground for a more efficient and faster sprint.
Generating horizontal force is directly correlated with the development of speed acceleration. Sprinters must focus on accelerating quickly, which is achieved by applying force in the direction they want to move – horizontally.
Efficiency and Economy
Sprinting strongly emphasizes horizontal force and promotes a more efficient running economy. Vertical forces, while necessary for lifting the body off the ground, can contribute to wasted energy if not harnessed properly. Horizontal forces are more directly aligned with the desired forward motion.
Sprinters naturally adopt a forward-leaning posture during acceleration. This lean is crucial for utilizing gravity to drive the body forward and activate the cross-extensor and stumble reflexes. Horizontal force complements this lean, allowing for a seamless and effective acceleration phase, helping you get into the correct angle and position.
7 Sprint Exercises to Boost Your Acceleration
Incorporate short sprints (10-30 meters) focusing on acceleration.
Gradually increase the distance as you progress to incorporate top-end speed.
Your acceleration will determine the rest of your sprint.
Sprinting uphill makes the muscles generate more force, improving power and strength in the acceleration phase. You must lean your body forward into that 45-70-degree position to run up the hill. Focus on driving the knees and pumping the arms.
Staggard Stance Medicine Ball Lift
From the start position, focus on the first step to drive forward with the medicine ball. This integrates the upper and lower body and mimics the explosive upper body movements during acceleration.
Resistance Band Isometric and Release
This exercise allows you to create tension isometrically in the start position needed to burst out from the start. Pull on a heavy resistance band for 8-10 seconds, pulling as hard as you can isometrically, and lean forward. Release the band, and it will slingshot you into your sprint using all the stored isometric energy.
Sprinters Squats (Hold the Wall)
Hold a dumbbell in your hand on the same side as the leg that is forward. Get down into the sprinter’s start position and perform squats.
Resistance Band Back Leg Acceleration
Secure a resistance band and attach it to your foot or ankle. Hold on to something so you can lean forward. Drive your knee up and down using the resistance band. This will help improve stride length and power.
Single-Leg Box Jumps
Enhance explosive power by jumping onto a box or platform. Using a single leg, jump onto a box. Focus on a quick and forceful takeoff.
Sled pushes mimic the exact horizontal sprinting acceleration phase with resistance to improve specific strength, speed, and power. Using an Exer-Genie or a prowler sled, push for about 10-15 yards. Focus on stomping the ground and leaning the body into a 45-70-degree position. It can be done for power or speed.
Always ensure proper warm-up before engaging in these exercises. Consistency and good form are crucial for effective improvement in sprint acceleration.
The emphasis on horizontal force in sprinting is a matter of optimizing biomechanics for the specific demands of the sport. While horizontal and vertical forces play roles in the overall sprinting process, horizontal force takes precedence due to its direct relationship with forward propulsion, speed development, and overall efficiency in pursuing rapid acceleration and increased velocity.
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