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Usain Bolt is the fastest man on the planet. He’s demonstrated this in two straight Olympic games. Track coaches, sprint aficionados, strength coaches, and biomechanists have much fun speculating as to whether or not Usain could get faster and how he should go about improving his speed.
In the video below (see the 5:38 mark), former Olympic gold medalist sprinter Michael Johnson and his colleague Lance Walker mention that Usain Bolt could be faster if he improved his mechanics.
What’s My Take on Usain’s Sprint Performance?
1. Bolt has Superior Horizontal Impulse Production Compared to his Colleagues
During maximum speed running, THIS paper here showed that Bolt’s vertical ground reaction force was surprisingly similar to that of Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell (I discussed this study at length in THIS podcast). However, it has been shown in several studies that horizontal measures of sprinting mechanical output are more critical to speed than vertical measures (force, power, and impulse). Since Bolt stays on the ground longer, is less stiff and more compliant, has similar vertical force outputs, takes less strides, and still runs faster than his competitors, some variable has to be greater, and I’d imagine that the variable that stands out most would be horizontal impulse (see HERE for biomechanical definitions). This superior horizontal impulse production is likely attributable to a handful of factors, some of which undoubtedly include Bolt’s stature (long legs) and glute/hamstring power (type II muscle fibers), among other variables.
Last night, I watched my niece Gabrielle play volleyball. She’s on varsity as a junior and her games are getting more and more exciting as she advances in years. I wrote about Gaby in early 2010 HERE, and posted a video of her first training session.
Side rant: My dreams of her becoming a world class sprinter came to an end when she tried out for track & field, made the team, and was then told by her volleyball coach for her club team that she was not permitted to join track due to the time requirements involved in club volleyball. I can’t tell you how much this infuriates me, and it’s a serious problem that plagues youth sports worldwide.
Today’s article is a guest-post from Lee Boyce (see his BIO below) on warming-up for sprinting. I hope you like it!
The one thing I’ve noted when it comes to sprinting advice in fitness articles is that the advice is simple – go sprint.
It often jumps straight to the workout, and ignores the people who need more direction on how to do it effectively and how to best prepare for an effective sprint workout. Over the past couple of years, I’ve personally tried to release content that caters to this exact crowd – the athletic lifting enthusiast with no formal training in sprinting, but has a desire to do so in their workouts.
Today’s article is a guest blog from Bruce Mendoza. See his bio at the bottom of the article. I’m very happy to post this as it’s such a beautiful story and illustrates the power that personal trainers have in positively impacting their clients’ lives. Great job Bruce & Nicole, you’re both inspiring!
Nicole Stevens was not a sprinter or runner…
Her journey began in December 2010 when she was a sophomore in high school. Her dad brought her to me because she was constantly hurting her low back and shoulders from cheerleading (she was a base).
We always worked on proper form not only with lifting but with her body movements as well, since I know that practice makes permanent.