Tag Archives: sprint performance

Strength Training Improves Change-of-Direction Speed

7 Jun

Regardless of the sport you play, strength and speed are “difference makers.”  And, although linear sprint speed is important, most athletes will need to change direction while moving at high-speed.

This is another area where strength training becomes important to an athlete’s development.

The development of strength and power through the core, hips, and lower extremities has a positive effect on change-of-direction (COD) performance.  Research shows a high correlation between 1-repetition maximum/body mass and COD in exercises like squats and deadlifts.

In addition to the squat and deadlift exercises, the leg press and split squat are also beneficial to the development of hip and leg drive.

Single-leg exercises, like the single-leg squat, step-up, and Bulgarian split squat, add an element of balance and stability to your lower-extremity strength development.

Plyometric exercises, like box jumps and depth jumps, can help you build explosive power, improving the amount of force you are able to generate against the ground.

Since long-term (>2 years) strength training improves COD performance, it is recommended as early as childhood and adolescence.  Consult with a knowledgeable, experienced strength and conditioning professional for guidance regarding an age-appropriate, well-designed, and well-supervised program.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Add Squats to Run Faster

11 Nov

squats-strength-training[1]At my facility, we encourage squats— and squat-type exercises — to improve sprint performance.  Research has also shown that squats can improve vertical jump and agility performance in athletes who perform the exercise regularly (athletes who swim, throw, and swing can also benefit from squats, which covers just about everyone).  Squats are a great choice to build the strength and power necessary to generate force against the ground, which is integral to speed, agility, and jump performance.

Recently, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research further corroborated the relationship between squats and sprint speed.  In their study, researchers found that athletes who did squats increased their sprint speed by 10% compared with those who did not do the exercise.

In addition to the Barbell Back Squat (pictured), try these squat variations:

  • Dumbbell Goblet Squat
  • Split Squat
  • Sumo Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Single-Leg Squat

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Squat vs. Leg Press: Impact on Strength and Speed

25 May

squats-strength-training[1]mKv16aCWBRPf7Ne2uLJQUaA[1]Many sports require athletes to execute powerful movements – those that require strength and speed.

Speed-strength performance can be defined as the execution of a movement that requires the development of large forces and high movement speeds.

Obviously, strength training has a positive impact on strength and speed.  Recently, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research took a look at two exercises – the back squat and leg press – and compared their relative effects on sprint and jump performance.

“Both exercises train nearly the same muscles of the lower extremities, but in some aspects, they are different.  The leg press has less requirements concerning balancing the weight, and therefore, less muscle activity contributes toward stabilization compared with the squat.” (Wirth, K, et.al.)

“Despite the maximal force production through many of the same muscles, squat and leg-press exercises are distinctly different and produce different specific neuromuscular adaptations because of diverse movement patterns.”

“Compared with the squat,… the hip extensors are not trained within the extension range” of the leg press exercise.

In this study, the authors found that the back squat exercise improved sprint and jump performance more effectively than the leg press, because of the better transfer effects.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Improve Your Speed and Agility with Jump Training

20 Apr

Lead%20Photo-1[1]Research has shown a definitive correlation between jumping ability and running performance, including speed and agility.  Generally, there is a stronger correlation based on the sprint distance.  The contribution of muscle power may be most important in shorter distance sprints (for example, 60, 100, and 200 meters), although middle- and long-distance running performance is positively impacted, as well.  Development of muscle power — via jump training — should be considered as  a component for training for most sports, including both sprinters and middle- and long-distance runners.

Running velocity, including the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction quickly, has been shown to be a function of force and power production.  The high-power output associated with jumping activities has led researchers to determine that jumping tests could be used as a  predictor of running performance.

Force and power are obvious components of running ability.  Maximal squat strength has been significantly correlated to sprint performance.  So, how do you incorporate strength and power training — including jump training — into your strength and conditioning regimen in a relevant way?

Strength Training

Before you start jump training, including plyometrics, you’ve got to be strong.  In order to be safe and effective, high-intensity power training requires adequate strength.  Bilateral, lower-body strength exercises like the squat, deadlift, and Romanian deadlift will help you build a strong foundation.  Unilateral exercises like the stepup and Bulgarian split squat are more functional, requiring strength and stability

Jump Training

Plyometrics are the most effective way to build lower-extremity power.  These exercises, done correctly, are designed to help you generate the greatest possible force in the shortest amount of time.  Jumping rope and jumping jacks are basic plyometric exercises, and a good place to start.  Once proficient at these exercises, you can progress to multiple, continuous box and hurdle jumps.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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The Effect of Heat Stress on Sprint and Jump Performance

18 Apr

jimmer-fredette[1]Sports like basketball and soccer require frequent intervals of running and jumping, over an entire game.  Additionally, these (and other) sports are often played in warm environmental conditions — both indoor and outdoor.

Research has consistently shown that fatigue leads to a decline in performance, and that higher temperatures lead to even greater declines.  This performance decline is partly to mostly associated with severe dehydration.

So how can you prepare yourself in a way that minimizes the impact of fatigue and dehydration on your game performance?

Conditioning

When it comes to conditioning, your training should mimic/reflect the demands of your sport.  This applies to intensity, duration, and movement patterns.  For most athletes, high-intensity interval training  (HIIT) should be a component of any off-season strength and conditioning program.  This type of training involves alternating high- and low-intensity exercise over a pre-determined period of time.  For more detailed information, please refer to my previous blog post, Add Interval Training to Your Routine.

Hydration

Adequate fluid intake — before, during, and after activity — is a must for any athlete.  The impact of hydration on performance cannot be overstated.  Inadequate hydration may be the single-biggest reason for performance fatigue and decline.  My STACK Media article, How to Hydrate Your Body, provides basic hydration guidelines for athletes.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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The Case for Single-Leg Squats

14 Mar

DSCN1897 DSCN1898At Athletic Performance Training Center, we like to incorporate single-leg exercises to complement bilateral exercises like the squat.

Exercises like the step-up, Bulgarian (rear leg elevated) split squat, and single-leg squat are routinely integrated into our athletes’ training.

Research tells us that the (back) squat is well-established to improve strength and power; as well as sprinting, jumping, and change-of-direction performance.

But movements like sprinting, jumping, and changing direction are performed either unilaterally, or with weight transferred to one leg at a time.

Therefore, it would be logical to expect that some aspects of athletic performance could be improved with unilateral exercises, which offer more specificity and may be more similar to athletic movements.

Unilateral exercises can also improve balance and stability, decrease lateral strength disparities, and maximize transfer between training and competitive performance.

In a recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study, Speirs and colleagues found that “bilateral and unilateral training interventions may be equally efficacious in improving measures of lower-body strength, speed, and change of direction…”

In the study, the unilateral group squatted exclusively with the Bulgarian split squat, whereas the bilateral group trained only with the back squat.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Dehydration is a Performance Killer

12 Oct

4521366051[1]Plenty has been written about the importance of hydration and its effect on athletic performance.

Water affects athletic performance more than any other nutrient, and dehydration is the number one cause of performance-related fatigue and decline.

Adequate fluid balance is also important for optimal cognitive function and overall function as it relates to activities of daily living.

Multiple studies corroborate that dehydration impairs sprint performance, jump performance, resistance training, power production, recovery, and heart rate response.

Athletes:  It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day — before, during, and after training, practices, and games — whether you feel thirsty or not.

Coaches/Trainers:  We’ve got to encourage hydration (via education) and incorporate hydration “stations” into athletes’ training, practices, and games, even (and especially) when they tell us they are “not thirsty.”

For more information, please refer to the following articles:

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Should You Do Plyometric Training on Consecutive Days?

12 Jun

plyometric_boxes[1]In most sports, the ability to produce explosive effort is an important component of performance.  Plyometric training (PT) is commonly used to increase/improve an athlete’s ability to sprint, jump, and change direction.  Additionally, PT may increase endurance performance in sports like basketball and soccer.

Given the high-intensity nature of plyometric training, most research recommends 24-48 hours of rest between PT training sessions.  At our facility, we favor twice-weekly PT training sessions, regardless of the number of weekly training days (e.g., if an athlete trains 3-4 days per week, two of those days include PT).

Occasionally, due to conflicts and other obligations and responsibilities, some of our athletes can only train twice per week and on consecutive days.

A recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study compared twice-weekly plyometric training — 140-260 jumps per session — with groups of athletes given 24-48 hours (1-2 days) of rest between sessions, and those training on consecutive days.

“Although it has been recommended that plyometric drills should not be conducted on consecutive days, the study shows that plyometric training applied twice weekly on consecutive or nonconsecutive days results in similar explosive and endurance adaptations…” (Ramirez-Campillo, et. al.)

If necessary, it appears that consecutive plyometric training days are safe and effective.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Build Power and Speed with Horizontal Jumps

6 Apr

StandingLongJump[1]There is a positive correlation between vertical and horizontal jumps (standing long jumps) and muscular performance in athletes, according to research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR).

At our facility, we favor contrast training — a strength exercise immediately followed by a power (explosive) exercise; for example, the squat followed by the squat jump.  Our athletes perform vertical and horizontal jumps, and plyometrics as the preferred modes of lower-body power training.

In the JSCR study, both vertical and horizontal jumps showed a significant correlation to sprint speed.  Bilateral and unilateral (single-leg) countermovement jumps, drop jumps, and squat jumps improved muscle architecture and sprint performance.

Unilateral jumps appear to have an even larger correlation to sprint speed than their bilateral counterparts.

Based on this information, strength and conditioning professionals can further improve their athletes’ performance by incorporating horizontal jumps — including unilateral jumps — into their training regimen.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Strength Training Improves Change-of-Direction Speed

29 Jan

thCA0WWFVVRegardless of the sport you play, strength and speed are “difference makers.”  And, although linear sprint speed is important, most athletes will need to change direction while moving at high-speed.

This is another area where strength training becomes important to the athlete’s development.

The development of strength and power through the core, hips, and lower extremities has a positive effect on change-of-direction (COD) performance.  Research shows a high correlation between 1-repetition maximum/body mass and COD in exercises like squats and deadlifts.

In addition to the squat and deadlift exercises, the leg press and split squat are also beneficial to the development of hip and leg drive.

Single-leg exercises, like the single-leg squat, step-up, and Bulgarian split squat, add an element of balance and stability to your lower-extremity strength development.

Plyometric exercises, like box jumps and depth jumps, can help you build explosive power, improving the amount of force you are able to generate against the ground.

Since long-term (>2 years) strength training improves COD performance, it is recommended as early as childhood and adolescence.  Consult with a knowledgeable, experienced strength and conditioning professional for guidance regarding an age-appropriate, well-designed, and well-supervised program.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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