Sprinting Rules pt.2

Hopefully you read part 1: Tissue Quality and Mobility Essentials. To sum up, sprinting puts a ton of stress on the body and unless you're prepared to absorb and distribute those forces appropriately, it's like playing with fire. Before you even start a sprinting routine, address your soft tissue quality and joint mobility every day for a month. Two athletes race. Athlete A is strong and athlete B is weak. Who will win?

Hopefully that's obvious.

All else being equal, a stronger runner will always beat a weaker runner.  The ability to generate force and direct it into the ground is the difference maker and even a 1% improvement is significant over the course of a distance race.

Seriously, if you could gain just 1 inch on your stride because you improved your power output, you'd beat your former self in a 5K by 100 yards!

Not So Fast

One of the basic tenets of smart training is building a proper base on top of which more advanced training can be performed. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Build an aerobic base to support higher intensity training.
  • Ensure good movement competency to support movement capacity

In other words, you shouldn't skip ahead or you're asking for trouble. Develop mobility and the ability to control your body first, then reinforce those qualities by strengthening your body. Once you've done that, then it's simply a matter of learning the skill of sprinting and training smart (not doing too much, too soon).

Get Your Rear In Gear

Besides being the name of a great race series that benefits Colon Cancer Coalition, it perfectly describes your mission as a runner when you go to the gym. Your butt muscles' ability to engage at the right time and generate force into the ground is a major key to running fast.

There's a catch, however. Muscles are kinda dumb; they only do what your brain tells them to do. So, rather than training individual muscles, we'll go after a chain of muscles that work in a coordinated fashion.

Let's think of it as strengthening patterns. One pattern we want to prioritize is hip extension which is the act of pulling your thigh behind your body (not by arching your lower back).

Here are a few of my favorite exercises that will get the job done for ya:

  • Barbell Bridge
  • Single Leg Bridge
  • Deadlifts
  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • Step Ups (with nearly vertical shin)
  • 90/90 Split Squat
  • Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
  • Reverse or Walking Lunges

Assuming you've done your homework, have developed good mobility and control of your body, and have lifting experience, here's how I'd structure a few of these moves. You do not need all of them in your program at once!

Here's an example of a mini-routine to strengthen the powerful pattern of hip extension.

Exercise Sets Repetitions Rest
1A: Deadlift 4 5 10 sec
1B: Hip Flexor Stretch 3 30 sec/side 60 sec
2A: 90/90 Split Squat 3 8/side 10 sec
2B: Barbell Hip Thrust 3 8 60sec

*If this stuff is new to you PLEASE contact a fitness professional to help you do things right.

You'll notice the number of repetitions is low (less than 10). Pick a weight that will only allow for the prescribed number of reps. The goal is to actually, you know, get stronger. Save the pink weights for holding down stacks of paper in your office.

Stick with this program for about 4-6 weeks, then change something. Add a set, go heavier, swap exercises, just progress something. Otherwise you WILL plateau.

And there's a pretty sweet side effect of training to sprint: your butt will actually start to lift and look damn good in a pair of tight jeans.

Or without the jeans.

You cool with that?


And just so we're clear...

I am not a doctor and I am not your doctor so anything you read here should not be taken as medical advice. For that you need to visit YOUR doctor and ask them the questions. I have not examined you, I do not know you, I know very little about your medical status. So, do not hold me responsible for taking my advice when I have just told you not to! Again, I am NOT your doctor.