Sprinting Biomechanics and the Myth of Triple Extension
There are many myths surrounding sprinting. One of them is that it’s all about speed, but there is much more to it than just speed. There are other factors which play a role in sprinting performance. Let us see what these factors are:
1) Explosive Power – How fast you can produce force during your motion (explosive power).
2) Acceleration Speed – How quickly you can accelerate from rest to top speed (acceleration speed).
3) Aerobic Capacity – How well you can use oxygen to produce energy during exercise (anaerobic capacity).
4) Anaerobic Threshold – Your ability to sustain high levels of aerobic activity at any given time (anaerobic threshold).
The first two factors are related with each other. If you have low explosive power or acceleration speed then your aerobic capacity will be lower. So if you want to run faster, then you need to improve your aerobic capacity. Similarly, if you don’t have enough anaerobic capacity then your aerobic threshold will be low.
You must increase it if you want to run faster.
So how do we measure these three parameters?
Well, there are several ways of doing so. They are:
1) VO2 Max – The maximum amount of oxygen (in mL) you can uptake and utilize from one breath at a time.
This is measured by running as hard as possible on a treadmill while breathing through a tube connected to a machine which measures the volume of air you are taking in.
2) Anaerobic Threshold – This is the point during exercise when lactic acid starts to build up in your muscles faster than the body can remove it.
You will need to run at about this speed for at least 3 minutes in order to determine this value.
3) Wingate Test – Commonly known as an Anaerobic Capacity Test.
This is a 30-second all-out sprint on a stationary bike against a heavy resistance.
4) Lactate Curve – A test which measures the lactate concentration in the blood at several exercise intensities.
5) Force Plate Test – This is a test which records the characteristics of your weight distribution during dynamic movement.
There are online tests which can be done to measure your running economy, but they aren’t very accurate.
However, there are tests which can be done to improve all these values. By improving these values, you will most likely improve your sprinting speed as well. Let’s see how we can do that.
To improve your VO2 Max and anaerobic threshold you need to do cardiovascular exercises, like running and cycling. By doing these types of exercises you increase the amount of blood and oxygen transported to your muscles and remove waste products like lactic acid more efficiently, which will allow you to sprint faster. The best way to train your VO2 Max is to run intervals. Run for 1 minute and then rest for 1 minute.
This is called interval training. You should increase the duration of your run by 1 minute every week and decrease the rest by 1 minute until you are running for 10 minutes and resting for only 30 seconds. Increase your running speed 5% every week as well. After 8 weeks you will see a great improvement in your VO2 Max if you follow this regime.
Another way to improve your anaerobic threshold is to strength train your leg muscles. The most important leg muscle for sprinting is the quadriceps (thigh muscle). The more strength you have in this muscle, the faster your leg will be able to push the ground and thereby you. There are many other muscles as well which will help you in increasing your speed.
They are the gluteus maximus (buttocks), the gluteus medius and minimus (rear bottom), the hamstrings (curl up your legs), the gastrocnemius and the soleus (calf). The best way to strength these muscles is to do weight training. You can easily build a home gym with a squat rack, a bench, some barbells, dumbbells and a set of power racks. If you don’t have the space or the money to buy all this stuff, then you can always go to a real gym and use their equipment.
You should strength train at least 3 times a week. The best way to do it is to divide your muscle groups into 2 or 3 categories and train them on different days. For example, you can train your legs and abdominals on Monday, your chest and back on Wednesday and your arms on Friday. Also, you don’t have to strength train all the time, you can alternate strength training with cardiovascular training any day that you feel like it.
If you strength train properly and regularly, then you should see great improvement in your anaerobic threshold after about 6 months. After this time your body will be used to the increased weight training and it’ll become harder for you to gain more strength. This is why you should try something different like yoga or pilates from time to time, as these will strengthen muscles that standard weight training may have neglected.
You will notice the greatest benefit of increased strength training when you begin to sprint. You can easily increase your sprinting speed by 5% each week and this boost in speed will help you win the 100m or 200m races.
As for the Anaerobic Capacity Test, this is only to be done once every 6 months. Your trainer will give you a schedule which tells you when to do these tests. This schedule is designed so that you don’t over train and so that you don’t peak too soon before the big race.
The last step to becoming a track star is to (drum roll please)…. buy some sportswear! If you thought the equipment was expensive, then you’ll die when you see the price of sports apparel!
Some shoes can cost more than $600 a pair! Fortunately, for you, there is a 50% discount at the local sports store because the owner is a big fan of track and field and wants to encourage young people in their athletic endeavors.
That’s it! You’re all set for the big race on Sunday! All you have to do now is to rest as much as possible before the race and then give it your best shot! Good luck!
Speaking of which, you are going to need all the luck that you can get for the race. Unfortunately, when you turn on your computer, you find that you have an e-mail from Mr. Reynolds.
He tells you that he’s sorry, but he just can’t let you have that much money so soon. He says he’s developed a bond with you over the past few months and he’d feel like a rat if he allowed you to win. He suggests that you don’t try to win this race, because he knows from experience that the photo-finish camera has him winning by a nose.
It looks like you’ve been double-crossed… again!
Good thing you didn’t bet any money on this race. At least you won’t have lost any.
You could try to win the race anyway, and take your chances with the mafia boss.
Although you’ve been a total loser for most of your life, you’ve at least learned a thing or two about survival from all those years of living in the jungle. You might have a chance of winning this thing… if you run faster than you ever have before.
Battling the pain, you get up and hurry to the track. You’ll show Mr. Reynolds…
you’ll show everyone!
You arrive at the stadium and quickly head for the locker room. No one notices you as you make your way through piles of people and piles of garbage. This place is a mess!
When you finally get to the locker room, it’s empty. Everyone is out on the track for the warm-up. You quickly get dressed in your new sportswear and begin to feel the confidence growing inside of you. This is it…
there’s no going back now!
You burst out of the locker room ready to win this thing. Unfortunately, you don’t really know what you’re doing. You get in the middle of twenty other runners and begin doing what they’re doing. It looks like they’re warming up the stretch muscles.
You join them in this and ask the person next to you if this is what you should be doing. He says, “Yes,” and then asks if you’re new here. You are about to answer when the gun goes off.
Panic immediately sets in as all 20 of the other runners take off. Since you don’t really know what you’re doing, you try to mimic what the others are doing. You begin running around the track…
or at least you try to. It’s not as easy as it looks. Other runners are knocking into you and pushing you over to the side. You have no idea how fast you’re supposed to be running or how to move forward in a straight line.
You take an elbow to the face and fall to the ground where you get trampled by several other runners. By the time you manage to get back up, everyone is disappearing down the final stretch of the track. You never had a chance.
You see Mr. Reynolds standing a few feet away from you and tears begin streaming down your face. You’re not angry at him…
or the other runners… or even yourself for that matter. It just suddenly hits you that you’ve lost your home, your job, and now your future. There’s nothing left for you here and you don’t want to be here anymore.
You sit down, put your head in your hands and cry.
Mr. Reynolds walks over and puts his hand on your shoulder. “It’s OK son, it’ll be OK.”
You take a deep breath and stand up. There really isn’t any point in staying here. You need to go find some new place in this world. Looking at Mr.
Reynolds, you smile and say, “Well I guess this is it.”
He smiles back and responds, “I guess it is. I’ll tell Mr. Molinoff that you quit. I’m sure he’ll understand.” He pauses for a moment then hands you an old key.
“And here. Take this key. It to the storage unit number thirteen. It has some of the Running Brook beer signs I was telling you about. I think you might find one or two that aren’t completely destroyed. You’re welcome to them.”
You take the key and place it in your pocket. “Thanks. I appreciate it.”
“Good luck, son. And if you’re ever back this way, stop in and see me. I’m sure my wife would love to have you over for dinner.”
“I just might do that someday. Goodbye, Mr. Reynolds.”
“Goodbye, kid. And remember: you did the right thing. You’ll see that one day. And when you do, you’ll be a stronger person for it.
I have no doubt about that.
With those last words of wisdom, you turn and head out the door. You don’t look back.
Sources & references used in this article:
Sprinting Biomechanics and the Myth of Triple Extension by A Bullimore – breakingmuscle.com
Countermovement jump peak force relative to body weight and jump height as predictors for sprint running performances:(in) homogeneity of track and field athletes? by JL Markström, CJ Olsson – The Journal of Strength & Conditioning …, 2013 – journals.lww.com
HockeyStrengthandConditioning. com HockeyStrengthandConditioning. com HockeyStrengthandConditioning. com HockeyStrengthandConditioning. com … by LOG OUT – hockeystrengthandconditioning.com
Sprinting: Training, Techniques and Improving Performance by C Husbands – 2013 – books.google.com