Strength training for sprinters

Discussion in 'Kettlebell' started by Tellya, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. Tellya

    Tellya Double-Digit Post Count

    As being as my other topic is on dieting, you can guess that this topic is not for me!! More just a discussion point.

    I overheard a conversation at the gym yesterday evening. Young fella, probably about 18 was talking to one of the staff saying that his athletics coach wanted him to put some more muscle on and that he did the 200m. This got me thinking: sprinters have in the past been muscle monsters. But is the increase in strength, power and speed commensurate with the weight gained?

    Even going back as far as 1992, the UK's Linford Christie was massive. But Usain Bolt (by sprinting standards) is not overly muscular. So is the paradigm shifting?

    Wouldn't they be better doing, say, squats, deads maybe calf raises, and benches PTTP style? And maybe adding/cycling between low rep very heavy cleans for power rather than going for hypertrophic strength?
  2. Harald Motz

    Harald Motz Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor barry ross underground secrets of running

    This is a concise book of great content. Barry Ross trained multi medalist sprinter Allyson Felix and got her to the top. He seeked to increase her Mass Specific Force, making her as strong and explosive as possible with being as light as possible. As the main strength lift he used frequent heavy low rep deadlifts. IIRC he let his athletes drop the DL in order to hack away any eccentric. He gives Pavel's PTTP credit.
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  3. Bro Mo

    Bro Mo Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Tough to say without knowing more about the persons performance and their coaches plan. Maybe he is running out of gas before finishing the 200m. I see this in novice 200-400m sprinters. In that case, more muscle mass will store more energy to finish stronger and a hypertrophy program would benefit. Create more muscle, make it stronger, make it faster, then make it enduring. He may be in the first stage of that cycle.
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  4. maurice197

    maurice197 Double-Digit Post Count

    Anthropometric Measurements of 100m Olympic Champions

    (edited w/ context)

    The trend seems to be that they are increasing and Usain is among the heaviest. The heavier the sprinter, the more momentum they hold throughout the latter half of the race. These sprints are actually won by minimizing deceleration after top speed is achieved and bigger racers tend to be able to do that a little better.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  5. Tellya

    Tellya Double-Digit Post Count

    Some very interesting thoughts and information, thanks!!

    The man in question I wouldn't have had him down as a sprinter, he looks more like a 1500m runner so maybe it *is* for the stamina, BroMo.

    Harald, that looks a very interesting book. What was the reasoning in doing concentric only, because there is not really an eccentric in sprinting?

    Maurice I am surprised at that, maybe it is because other athletes are also more powerfully-built now so the sprinters don't look so massive. Like soccer players, here in the UK even 20 years ago they were a lot less muscular than they are now.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.
  6. Harald Motz

    Harald Motz Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    Barry Ross makes the point, to drop the bar shortly before the hips are extended fully to reduce time under load. Directly after a set plyometrics are performed which have eccentric component.

    His athletes do Deads+Plyos, a pushing exercise, bench/pushup, some direct ab work and they are ready for track work.
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  7. Chrisdavisjr

    Chrisdavisjr Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    In addition to what @Harald Motz said, removing the eccentric phase of a strength movement is a strategy used to minimise increases in muscle mass as more muscle growth stimulus comes from the eccentric phase than the concentric. Athletes can use this to build considerable maximal strength with squats, deadlifts etc. while staying as light as possible.
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  8. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Some interesting research by sports scientist JB Morin on the sprint mechanics of French sprinter Christophe Lemaitre. He was relatively weak by elite athletic standards and after a strength programme got slower, although dunno what the strength training was. Significantly, the findings suggest horizontal force production, stiff ankles, co-ordinated pretensioning of lower leg musculature to allow for rapid transmission of force. It's not just the transmission of force but the ability to create tension prior to impact.....timing.....for quick force transmission and for that force to be propelled horizontally at max velocity. The method to train that is to sprint at max velocity. Strength is needed, how much? Strong enough or more than strong enough?
    And if wanting to increase horizontal force production, are there any good exercises specific to that goal? Anyone know any.......? Hmmmm
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  9. Pinkninja

    Pinkninja Triple-Digit Post Count

    Im not much of an expert on kettlebell training and usually stay pretty quiet with advice but sprinting is something I feel Im somewhat of an expert on having trained quite successfully as one back in my young days. One thing that is of utmost importance - more than anything else - is to strengthen the core. The core is the powerhouse of a sprinter. It drives every muscle in your body. My coach would always say that from the bottom of the neck to the tops of your thighs is where you need to be strong. Its so while leg conditioning - especially plyometric training moreso than weight training is important - the core should never be overlooked and should in fact be the focus.
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  10. Tellya

    Tellya Double-Digit Post Count

    Some more great input, thanks. Ali: 'The swing is the thing' as a wise man once said! (Mark Reifkind, I think.)

    I was thinking about Lemaitre he was looking more like a distance runner, wonder why his strength training slows him?
  11. Denny Phillips

    Denny Phillips Triple-Digit Post Count

    Twenty years ago I attended a strength and conditioning seminar where long-time Michigan strength coach Mike Gittleson was a featured speaker. He demonstrated a hip flexor movement that he said was the best he ever saw and all it involved was a towel and a partner. There are three parts to the exercise:

    1. The towel is wrapped around the ankle of an extended leg. The subject draws their leg up to their chest from a supine position as the partner resists, the subject then extends the leg naturally with no resistance.
    2.The subject starts with the leg drawn to the chest and the partner then pulls the leg to extension. The knee returns to the chest naturally with no resistance from the partner.
    3. The partner resists when the knee is brought to the chest AND the subject resists as the partner straightens the leg (parts 1 and 2 put together).

    When first performing the movement it is recommended that the resistance is light in order to gauge exertion, don't get too excited about making it difficult until the two people get to know each others capability. Keep the movement smooth, no jerking. You would have to pay premium bucks to find a machine that does what this exercise can do. I used it for my track and football athletes ever since and believe firmly in it. Start with three reps in each position working up to six when the athlete becomes familiar and stronger. The partner working the towel better gird up as the subject gets stronger.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
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  12. More than 500 posts

    "Strength Training Makes You Slow."

    There is some validity to that. We have touched it on before.

    Muscle Fiber Type

    "Super" Fast Type IIb/x Muscle Fiber are more Speed and Power oriented.

    Fast Type Type IIa Fiber are more Strength related.

    Training Converts Muscle Fiber

    "Super" Fast and Fast Muscle Fiber are able to convert from one type to the other; which is driven by your Training Program.

    Thus, performing only Limit Strength Training (heavy loads, moved slowly, for lower reps) converts "Super" Fast Type IIb/x to Fast Type IIa; you become stronger and slower.

    Power and Speed Training only produces a decrease in Limit Strength with in increase in Power and Speed.

    French sprinter Christophe Lemaitre

    Lemaitre's program could have well decreased his speed; which may or may not have been a issue.

    If Lemaitre was following a Traditional Periodization Training Program; he might have been in a Strength only Training Program Cycle.

    The progression would have then been to follow the Limit Strength Training Program with a Power and/or Speed Training Program Cycle.

    Limit Strength Is The Foundation of Power and Speed

    If he was following the Traditional Periodization Training Program, going from Limit Strength to Power and/or Speed; it would have allowed him to utilize the increase in Limit Strength to increase his Power and/or Speed, providing the program was well written and applied.

    Horizontal Force Production

    This is definitely one the vital components to sprinting faster.

    Dr Bret Contreras' research has demonstrated exercise that increase Horizontal Force are: Hip Thrust, Hip Extensions, Kettlebell Swings with a Heavy Kettlebell etc.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
  13. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Weighing all the variables up, is there a case for massive individual response to strength training and speed adaptations? Partlly due to fibre type, genetics, previous training etc, maybe?

    Something I don't understand fully - eccentric loading.
    Barry Ross's deadlifts do not load the eccentric, the bar is dropped. I get the reasoning here....eccentric loading is hypertrophic (is it, though?) and the aim is to increase relative strength, to limit mass. Yet, with swings, the eccentric is loaded and exponentially so relative to the bell size, as power plates reveal in some studies. I don't know really but I wouldn't say swings add mass to the hamstrings.
    So could Ross's programme success be due to something else or a combination of other inputs? ie plyos straight after, core work and an elite sprinter, notwithstanding.
    So what about the rest of us, non elites and generalists? Is a deadlift protocol for an elite sprinter appropriate for all? And then Lemaitre, getting slower.
    Reckon it is a bit of a quagmire of too many ifs and buts to pick out a perfect pathway for everyone.

    Or, stick to an easy moderate strength approach with sprinting in the mix.
    Or a sprint programme, moderating max velocity and volume with loading parameters of strength/movements to suit recovery. A big, big mistake I've made is to ignore the fact that sprinting is so taxing that if overdone or under recovered, slowness will creep up on you.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2018
  14. More than 500 posts


    I don't understand you questions, so I can't reply.

    Eccentric Loading

    What don't you understand about eccentric loading; what questions do you have on it?

    The Deadlift

    There Deadlift is a concentric movement. There is very little, if any eccentric component to it. regardless of if you drop the bar or hold on while it drop to the floor.

    Hypertrophy Response

    There isn't much of a hyptrophic response to sets with low repetition Deadlifts, nor any other exercises. Thus, even the minuscule thatt might occur with holding on to the bar as it falls to the floor vs dropping the bar from the top, is not hypertrophic.

    Metabolic Stress

    The predominate factor for hypertrophy/increasing muscle mass is Metabolic Stress. aka, The Pump.

    To elicit hypertrophy moderate to high repetition need to be preformed with light to moderate loads, with short rest periods taken between sets; the Traditional Bodybuilding Protocol.

    Low repetition sets, with long rest period between sets does not produce Metabolic Stress.

    Recovery Rate

    As you know, a greater amount of muscle damage occurs with an Eccentric Action vs a Concentric Contraction.

    When you eliminate the Eccentric Action in any movement and only preform the Concentric Contraction, muscle recovery occurs much faster.

    Now let examine Ross' Deadlift Program

    The Holy Grail in Speed Training: A Fitness article

    1) Dynamic stretch before each session, static stretch after each session.

    I agree. Dynamic Stretches turn on the Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber.

    Connective Tissue are like String Cheese; ridge when cold, more pliable when warmed up. That is whey Static Stretches should always be performed at the end of a sessin.

    2) Deadlift every session, 2-3 sets of 2-3 reps @ 85-95% 1RM, TIMED
    a) Plyometrics at the end of each set, within 1 minute of set completion

    Post Activiation Potentiation Training

    Ross's Deadlift followed by a Plyometric Movement is Post Activation Training; aka Complex Training.

    I have post information before the benefits of Post Activation Training/Complex Training as a means of increasing Power and or Speed, dependent on how the program is written.

    Building Strength and Power With Complex Training - World Class Bodybuilding Forum

    My training revolves around Post Activation Training. The article listed above provides more information on it. I co-wrote it in 2001 for Powerlifting USA magazine.

    Eccentric Component of Kettlebell Swings

    One of the benefits of Kettlebell Swing is it develop the Stretch Reflex. Research show that up to 18% more Power Output can be produce when the Stretch Reflex is evoked.

    Kettlebells Swings For Hamstring and Glute Mass

    Again, the dominate factor for Hypertrophy is Metabolic Stress, The Pump.

    That mean if you follow the protocol dictate above; moderate to high repetition need to be preformed with light to moderate loads, with short rest periods taken between sets. you will increase muscle mass in your hamstrings and glutes.

    Super Sets

    Based on the information in Ross' article, his implementation of Post Activation Potentiation is the prime factor.

    It Works For Everyone

    Post Activation Potentiaton Training work for everyone, providing the program is well written and executed.

    Reference Previous Post

    That answer was provided in my previous post.

    Conjugate Training

    Combining two different type of Strength Training into one training program is very effective.

    However, as you noted, it a bit of a juggling act to make sure you elicit a greater training effect without overtraining.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2018
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  15. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Thanks , interesting... there's a lot more going on.

    .....I think I have the image in my mind! Not too dissimilar to pulling your hip flexors in to a squat, or a partner assist to find them, if I have your description correct. I do an upside down version of that drill, oddly one that I remember from back in the day, on a step...a raised mountain climber kind of thing, for activation.

    Yes, definitely. The Barry Ross deadlifts featured core work too.
    One of the many, many benefits of the swing in generalist terms and specific to sprinting is the one arm anti-twist for the core musculature. A few years ago my sprint form was sort of wobbly, leaking power. I feel really strong in that area now, I think or presume due to many, many one arm swings with that 32....and, of course, more sprinting.
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  16. Denny Phillips

    Denny Phillips Triple-Digit Post Count

    That sounds about right, ali.

    For those old enough to remember the Universal Gym one of the pieces was a thing called the Real Runner. Your description of the "step flexor" immediately reminded me of it. Chuck Coker was an exercise genius in many ways. His hyperextension station featured an angled foot pedal that resulted in passive insufficiency of the hamstrings which caused the onus to be placed on the rear chain back musculature, not the least of which the spinal erectors.

    The Real Runner was the ultimate hip flexor monster of the time. I have searched for one for years to no avail due to it allowing the trainee to move both legs in a rhythmic action. Here is a video of a newer take on it:

    It was a great machine.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2018
  17. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Some machine! That's a treadmill I'd use.
  18. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    In general, the kind of strength one can achieve by weight training is helpful to almost all athletic pursuits and to one's health in a variety of ways. Those of us who don't want to chase elite performance need simply to measure up to simple standards and will almost invariably be the better for doing so. The standards for the SFL, SFB, and SFG are good standards for everyone to pursue.

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  19. taikei

    taikei Triple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    I kept hearing from Pavel and Dan John the names of Charles Francis and Bud Winters. One way or another they have molded world record holders.
  20. Doug

    Doug Double-Digit Post Count

    I know from personal experience that I increased my sprinting speed with heavy squats, DL's, and Plyo's, and of course actual sprinting. I do wish that I knew about Kettlebells back then because if I did my training would have been completely different. I added way too much unwanted bulk and peaked out. If I knew back then what I know now I would just sprint, swing, Goblet Squat, TGU, and Snatch after I hit my plateau.

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