Posts Tagged ‘speed’

bolt sprint run olympics jamaica

 

It’s been widely theorized for a while now that a runner’s ability to extend his/her hips powerfully is the most important factor in determining sprinting speed. High hip extension velocities have been shown to be correlated with greater running speed, and the force produced by the hip extensors have been shown to increase with higher running speeds, so it stands to reason that training your hip extensors to put MORE force into the ground at a FASTER rate will make you run faster.

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As I’ve written about before,  I don’t often include traditional speed and agility work such as ladder and cone drills in my athletes’ programs. There are two main reasons for this:

1) More often than not, strength is the more pressing issue.

2) Many athletes will improve their running speed and agility just by increasing strength.

Why You Should Prioritize Strength First

Strength is the most basic building block of athleticism, and for the most part, stronger athletes tend to be better athletes.

Renowned strength coach Mark Rippetoe wrote an excellent article on T-Nation recently about the importance of strength development for athletes, which included the following passage:

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One of the things I enjoy most about being a strength coach is the challenge that comes from figuring how to best address the needs of the athletes I train. I’ve always been good at (and enjoyed) problem-solving, and a large part of my job is exactly that. I know it sounds weird, but I look at every athlete I train as a problem to be solved. Every athlete is unique, in that they all have different strengths and weaknesses, and may have different goals as well. Most people will fall into one of a few general templates, but everyone has their own little athletic quirks, so they all require individual attention to make sure their program is as effective as possible.

Terrell Owens was such a clown

Some athletes apparently require a lot more attention than others…

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Every athlete I train undergoes an initial evaluation and then periodical re-evaluations every 6 weeks to monitor progress. A few of the things we test are squat strength, deadlift strength, vertical jump, 20 yd dash, 5-10-5 agility test, and broad jump. Having measured all these things hundreds of times, I’ve started to notice some interesting patterns and come to realize that the broad jump might be the best indicator of overall athletic ability. 

I don't give a shit how much you can bench. What's your broad jump?

I don’t give a shit how much you can bench. What’s your broad jump?

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This post stems from a discussion I had with one of the softball players I train. I made the statement that most softball players could benefit from overhand throwing instruction, because their mechanics are typically substandard when compared with those of baseball players. She retorted that softball players have to short-arm the ball and throw with a low elbow because they have to get rid of the ball more quickly due to the fact that they play on a smaller field. In other words, they “don’t have time” to utilize proper mechanics. But in reality, throwing with proper mechanics doesn’t take any more time than throwing with poor mechanics.

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The Problem

There’s really no way to sugarcoat this, so I’m just going to go ahead and say it:  many strength and conditioning programs for girls aren’t very good. And this is a shame because it prevents many young women from fully realizing their athletic potential, potentially costing them college scholarships. For whatever reason, the majority of training programs for young women seems to be more oriented towards traditional “speed and agility” work, with less of an emphasis placed on overall strength and power training. So basically, lots of cones and ladders and TRX, and not a lot of squats and deadlifts. This is a mistake.

5 pound bicep curls? On a Swiss ball? Stop it.

5 pound bicep curls? On a Swiss ball? Stop it.

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Check out my latest article published on T-Nation.com – Contrast Training for Power and Explosiveness

t-nation squat