* Stronger Abs & Back by Brittenham &
Brittenham has a great range of exercises and explians trunk training
brilliantly. The program recommends a large variety of trunk exercises
performed perfectly. Athletes should aim in their programs for a
good mix of core stability exercises possibly with a swiss ball
and to progress from Ab/back conditioning exercises to strength
exercises (as their condition improves) and then possibly for some
athletes to Ab/back power exercises. The days of considering 3 sets
of 50 situps as good ab work are gone.
I consider this a key area in helping an athlete to prevent trunk related injuries eg Hamstring tears. A stable trunk should also provide better balance and relaxation at high speeds.
A comprehensive trunk program involving the use
of various exercises as well as Pilates and Swiss Ball is presented
Some other stability exercises
1/ On Right side on elbow use trunk to lift body
straight - Hold it for 30seconds
Sprinters should have regular assessment from a Physiotherapist and follow a structured stretching program to develop flexibility as well as have this information influence the design of their Gym program. Stretching should include a variety of stretches both dynamic and static.
Speed Drills as promoted by Loren Seagrave of Speed Dynamics are very effective at improving cadence and posture when performed correctly. You can't do drills properly (and effectively) unless perfection is pursued. The Video Drills for Speed is a must have if the Drills are to be learned properly. To develop the skill seems to take at least 3 months of practise for most athletes to master. Most athletes do them far from correctly.
Lately my squad have been simply using just two drills as follows:
1. Ankling - circular movements of lower leg maintaining dorsiflexion. Do 6-8 of these over 6-8s.
2. Quick Recovery High Knee Running - they catch their leg early bring it rapidly up underneath and keeping their pelvis stable lift their knees as high as they can without 'sitting'. They do these at varying speeds maintaining good form which means no extra bum out or sitting as well as keeping their feet dorsiflexed. They do about 6-8 of these over 6-8s at varying speeds.
We follow two of the following principals of Modern Running Technique
The two drills used by my squad are focused on these two principals. Note - We do not do butt kicks as a drill anymore for this reason.
Development of Maximum Speed
The theory exists that it is better to develop maximum speed first
then later in the season add endurance of that speed. Endurance
work can be done but not work that involves all out efforts that
could result in the athlete practising poor form. Any kind of speed
endurance work can especially as it becomes more intense result
in decreased efficiency and maximum speed. Every time an athlete
makes maximum effort they program that exact motor pattern at that
velocity as being what the brain reproduces as maximum speed..
The athlete may build up to 9-12 runs in sets of 3-4 with minimum rest between being 3-5min and full recovery between sets.
Once the athlete reaches a speed plateau and seems to have difficulty moving to a new higher level. Then something different needs to be done. To gain speed the athlete can look in these areas
* Flexibility improvement - Especially in areas that may decrease stride length.
* Lose Weight- If the athlete has excess weight losing it will speed them up. Lean body weight should be at least maintained.
* Become stronger or develop more power in the Gym- Improving specific strength in the Gym should help the athlete become more powerful. Excessive bulk is bad, as is loss of flexibility. A program needs to be developed to suit the individual. The right program is needed for running the athlete has only so much time in the week and they need to recover for their high quality running sessions.
*Improve Power- The athlete could sprint up short hills, tow sleds, tow other athletes or run with a weighted belt. The recommendation is that the athlete when running resisted with the aim of improving maximum speed should not be slowed by more than 10%. The most recommended way to do this is with a weighted belt. They are comfortable and can even be worn all day. They help the athlete maintain a higher centre of gravity and may enhance the plyometric effect of the muscles. Towing a sled or hills are effective mostly at improving starting power. The biomechanics of these situations are very different to maximum speed mechanics.
* Improve Plyometric effect of the muscles- Plyometric exercies are effective but the best ones are specific. They need to be built up slowly in volume and are effective. We start with standing start 4 bounds and jumnp into a sandpit. We measure each attempt and aim to improve this distance. Then we progress when the athlete has good technique to running start 4 bounds and a jump. We also expand the program to include double leg bounds over hurdles eg 6 x 3 hurdles only up to a height where the athlete can bounce with quick contacts. We also do speed bounds i.e bounding for both speed and distance over 20m or 30m. We also do these initially from a standing start and then from a running start. We aim to keep the total number of foot contacts under 40 in a session. Which is far less than is often recommended. Intensity without injury is the aim as it is intensity that produces higher results. All plyometrics should aim to have all of the foot impact the ground do not have athletes bounce off the toes this will risk injury.
* Increase Cadence- Overspeed Running
is the icing on the cake and can have large gains in Maximum
speed. It is however, accompanied by higher risk. The athlete
should already have high levels of trunk stability and be running
with good form. Any defect will be exagerated by overspeed and
injury can easily occur. The are various ways for the athhlete to
be assisted to run at a speed above their natural maximum. The limitation
is one that mostly involves Nerve Signal pathways that can be "programmed"
to happen quicker. If the brain can get used to a higher cadence
the athlete will have it without assistance. The danger factor is
that the athletes posture can collapse, they could injure themselves
in a fall if they can't keep up or they could pull a muscle becuase
it did not relax quick enough at the higher cadence rate.
Athletes need to get full extension out of the
blocks and run with a pushing action for as far as possible. To
be able to do this as far as possible means staying very forward
with the whole body , keeping the head down will help this.
Some other ideas include neural considerations. Athletes have a limited neural ability to fire muscles at high cadences/ high power. To optimize speed over 100m means conserving neural ability by decreasing cadence early in the race. Big straighter arm swings and big full extension pushing steps for as far as possible decrease cadence early and allow athletes to maintain higher cadences later in the race.
Athletes as they approach the finish should increase stride frequency even further and allow stride length to shorten to minimize overstriding. You may have noticed some sprinters look to be running faster at the end, it is the increased cadence that you have noticed not the loss of stride length.