The ultimate sprint training series. Part 3

In our last article we discussed the types of training that contribute to the development of speed off the mark. Part three of our series looks at the type of sessions that will assist to improve your ability to accelerate quickly.

As highlighted the three main areas that address acceleration off the mark include force application abilities, technique ad coordination training and elastic or stiffness qualities. When designing these types of sessions it is important to recognise that you have a choice on whether to complete all of these tasks across a training session or look to separate them across multiple units in different sessions of the week.

If you are someone that is strapped for time outside of your sports training we would recommend doing all of the components in the same session. This type of training was extensively explored by a hugely successful throws coach named Anatoliy Bondarchuk. He divides training into four areas, the competitive exercise (CE), in this circumstance the competitive exercise would be accelerations off the mark. This covers the technique, coordination and timing at the speed that it will be performed and allows the athlete to get adequate time to practice technical changes. The next area that he defines is termed special development exercises (SDE) and these are exercises that mimic the competition activity, but may overload temporal or spatial factors to stress the motor system to find improved solutions for the expression of the movement. This includes tasks such as running against resistance (hills, sleds) or using assistance (downhill or pulleys) or alterations in starting positions (moving, on the ground, facing another direction).

The next area discussed in this interpretation of session design uses exercises that fall into the category of special preparatory exercises (SPE), these include tasks that assist with the development of the underlying characteristics required to perform in the sport, but may not mimic the sport. These include plyometrics and jump tasks to develop power and elastic qualities, and resistance training to develop power and strength.

Finally general exercises (GE) are used to assist with injury prevention, linking areas of the chain together that are required in the sport and establishing foundation qualities that support performance. These include items such as abdominal, back, hamstring and calf isolation training as well as upper body strength.

With this in mind a session may look like the following.

  1. Warm up (we will not get into specifics here but may include items that prime the task about to be performed)

  2. CE - 6-12 x 10-40m accelerations at >90% effort (these may be broken into sets for greater recovery, generally there should be at least 1 min per 10m covered between repetitions if you are trying to improve speed, you can use shorter if trying to increase repeat sprint abilities.

  3. SDE - see different options a, b, c

    1. a) Spatial/Temporal transfer focus - 4-8 x 10-30m from ( from the following moving starts, starting on the ground, from a change of direction or based on a cue from sound or light causing a decision making process)

    2. b) Speed/Power transfer Focus. 4-8 x 10-40m hill reps or sleds. Assess speed decrement to have a 10-30% reduction in speed

    3. c) Power/Strength Focus 4-8 x 10-20m sled @ 75-100% BW. Assess the decrement in speed, however should slow speed by about 40-60%.

  4. SPE

    1. a) Plyometrics - Horizontal plyometrics - 5 x 30m (from the following: skips, scissors, alternate leg bounds, hops)

    2. b) Olympic lifts or dynamic lifts - 3-6 sets of 1-5 reps (clean, snatch, jerk variations or squat, lunge, hip hinge jumping or speed lifts)

    3. c) Compound lifts - 3-5 sets of 1-8 reps (press, pull, lunge, hip hinge movements)

  5. GE) 1-3 sets of exercises that support injury reduction and tissue qualities including (abdominal work, back strength, single limb support work, isolation hamstring, calf, adductor , foot training)

Given the vast array that is included in all of these options, you my choose to reduce the volume if you want to get it all completed in one session or it may be best for these areas to be split up across multiple sessions. It is always a good idea to keep the CE exercises as the central part of the session and then support this with one or multiple of the SDE, SPE or GE exercise groups.

We hope this gives some more insight into the ways in which you can get off the mark faster. In the next article we start to look at identifying what it is that contributes to improving your top speed.