Build Hip Strength to Boost Your Starts

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Sprinters often overlook training their hip flexors, a valuable link in the kinetic chain, and place too much emphasis on working the core, quads and hamstrings, according to Randy Hadley, S&C coach to Xavier Carter, a sprinter training for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

"When a sprinter has a mechanical disadvantage in the hip flexor region, it limits his full use of power," Hadley says. "Weak hip flexors can cause low-quality starts coming out of the blocks or a [low-quality] drive phase to reach necessary acceleration points."

Carter performs Split Squats three times a week in the off-season [once per week in-season] to isolate and strengthen the hip flexors. To avoid pelvic tilt and potential injury, use exercises that work your lower back and lower abs.

Hip flexor muscle group

These muscles span from the lumbar spine/pelvic region to the thigh bone. Powerful hip flexors allow a sprinter to maximize knee drive and apply force through the quads when bringing his leg through a full range of motion.

Split Squats

• Stand in stride position in front of flat bench or box; place left foot on box
• Lower hips until thigh is parallel to floor; hold position for three to five seconds
• Slowly, return to start position
• Repeat for specified reps; perform with opposite leg on next set

Adaptation: Start with body weight, then progress to holding light dumbbells
Sets/Reps: 3x8 each leg

Coaching Points: Do not let front knee go past toe of front foot // Use slow, controlled movements to allow hip flexors to fully engage

Check out the Track and Field Channel at STACK TV.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock