Best Track & Field Exercises You're Not Doing

STACK Expert Phillip Michael Vaughn shows you three exercises that focus on the triple extension to improve your track & field performance.

Track and Field Exercises

Co-authored by Steven Keith Scruggs

When you're training for track & field events, it's difficult to know which muscles to target. Sure, you should train your legs, but what if you want to get more specific?

Here are some exercises that develop the triple extension—movement at the ankles, knees and hips. The triple extension occurs frequently in track & field—for instance, when throwing, jumping and sprinting.

Exercises for Track & Field Athletes

Mid-Thigh Pull

  • Start from the peak power position in the rack.
  • Hold the bar slightly above the pocket, or at the location of where your hips bend, with your arms straight.
  • Slightly flex your knees and keep your torso upright.
  • Forcefully explode upward.
  • Extend your knees, hips and ankles as you fully reach an upright position, then shrug the bar in a fashion similar to the Clean.
  • Return the bar to the rack, reset and repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.

This exercise strengthens the hamstrings, quads and glutes, while targeting other postural support muscles and teaching you to move at maximal speeds. For more information on the Mid-Thigh Pull, see "The Mid-Thigh Pull: Proper Application and Progressions of a Weightlifting Movement Derivative."

Pull to Knee

This exercise is performed with the barbell starting on the floor, in the same position you use during the Power Clean or Clean.

  • Keep the bar close to your body with the proper lifting posture in your back muscles.
  • Maintain the same angle at the hip as in the previous exercise.
  • Extend your knees and raise the bar off the floor, keeping it close to your shins throughout the movement.
  • Stop the movement once you've reached optimal bar height (equal to or slightly above your knees).
  • Return the bar to the floor and repeat for the desired number of reps.

For a more in-depth look at proper Pull To Knee technique, check out the article by Deweese et al., entitled "The Pull to Knee—Proper Biomechanics for a Weightlifting Movement Derivative."

Glute/Ham Developers

This movement can be completed on either a glute/ham machine or manually with a partner holding your feet.

  • Begin with your knees completely flexed and your torso upright.
  • Lower your body while contracting your hamstrings.
  • Once you reach the bottom of the movement, pull your body back upright, using your hamstrings and glutes.
  • Keep your torso in a straight line.

This movement primarily targets the glutes and hamstrings, while also engaging the muscles of the hip extensors and low back.

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