Some would argue that Usain Bolt’s height plays to his advantage in the 100-meter dash.
Standing 6’5”, Bolt has longer legs than his competitors, which means he can cover more ground in less time, right?
Not so fast.
The truth is that Bolt’s height makes him less aerodynamic than the average human, which means he must exert a greater amount of energy than his competitors “to overcome the air resistance exacerbated by his frame,” according to a new study published in the European Journal of Physics.
The research calculated that only 7.79 percent of the energy Bolt generated during his record-setting 100-meter sprint in 2009 was used to achieve motion. The remaining 92.21 percent was absorbed by the drag.
That’s a lot of energy lost, but Bolt more than compensates with his world-class power production.
The study found that with each stride, Bolt produces nearly twice the power output of a Tour de France cyclist in the closing stages of a sprint—or the same amount of force as a knockout punch from a heavyweight boxer.
Every hundredth of a second matters in the 100-meter dash. To reach superhuman speeds, the fastest man on earth needs energy—real energy—in the form of carbohydrates prior to a race.
“Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of fuel for muscle contraction,” says Kim Stein, senior principal scientist at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute.
Gatorade Prime Energy Chews are formulated with a blend of carbohydrates to provide real fuel for an athlete. Having enough carbohydrates stored in the muscle by eating carbs throughout the day can fuel the muscle contractions Bolt needs to execute a strong start out of the blocks, into the drive phase and all the way through the transition.
Bolt also turns to the Chews when he needs to fuel up for long training sessions leading up to a race. He says: “When I’m feeling especially tired, I take Gatorade [Prime Energy Chews] to get a burst of energy.”
A number of external factors work against Bolt every time he steps into the blocks—air resistance and his competitors, to name two. The one aspect he can control is ensuring his energy levels are topped off and primed to perform, which frees his mind to focus on the race.
“The more relaxed you are, the smoother and faster you’ll run,” Bolt says.
Gatorade Prime Energy Chews help Bolt top off before taking off.
Photo: Courtesy of Puma