Reverse Hyper Sprints: The Best Speed Exercise You’re Not Doing

I thought up this exercise several years ago and included it in my glute eBook, but I never showed a video of them. I feel that biomechanically, this is one of the most similar ways to load the sprint pattern for horizontal power. Sure there are a whole-lotta muscles that are highly activated in a sprint, but the hip extensors appear to be the “rate limiting step” in terms of maximal speed production.

Moreover, the more forward the orientation of forces, meaning the greater the ratio of horizontal forces to vertical forces, the faster the sprinter. Finally, the better developed the velocity-side of the horizontal power equation, the faster the sprinter.

Reverse hyper sprints likely help bridge the gap between weightroom strength and the track by increasing horizontal power via greater hip extension angular accelerations.

You can perform reverse hyper sprints with just bodyweight, with 5 lb ankle weights, or with 10 lb ankle weights. I haven’t experimented with anything greater than that.

It is VERY important that you use proper form when performing these. Notice that I do NOT hyperextend my lumbar spine or move into excessive anterior pelvic tilt? The trick is to NOT treat these like a hip thrust where you actively seek end-range hip extension and squeeze the glutes. Focus on the hamstrings and the glutes but slightly limit end-range hip extension so that the pelvis and spine are spared.

Rapidly reposition the limbs as quickly as possible while holding good position. Grip the handles hard so you can transfer some force from the arms through the lats through the thoracolumbar fascia and into the hips (serape effect). Envision sprinting on the track when performing these.

Reverse Hyper Sprints

22 Comments

  • This looks like a good exercise. Revers hypers are absolutely amazing for getting rid of back pain at least in my experience. It is towards the top of my wishlist for new toys at my gym. What do you think of homemade reverse hypers?

    • Bret says:

      Homemade one’s can work very well if done correctly. The reverse hyper sprints don’t require a pendulum so they’re easier to implement.

  • Alex says:

    FOLLOW UP:

    1) How do the various muscle activation percentages compare to sprints?

    2) Is the purpose primarily to work sprints “weak link”, the hip extensors?

    3) Is the exercise (performed indoors) promoted primarily as an alernative to when the weather prevents outdoor sprint exercises?

    cheers

    • Bret says:

      Great questions Alex.

      1. I haven’t conducted this experiment yet. I could extrapolate based on what I’ve seen in the literature reporting sprint EMG with similar MVC positioning, but it would just be speculation.

      2. Yes, in a rapid fashion to promote greater hip extension power.

      3. Not primarily, but this is another excellent application (rain, snow, etc.), as is lower body injury (knee, ankle, toe, etc.).

  • Steve says:

    What are your thoughts on single straight leg bridging with the foot on a box for top end speed development?

  • Angelina says:

    WOW!! That looks powerful – but my back is weak right now and I wonder how it would react to this – even I went slow. Anyway to REALLY strengthen the back?

    • Bret says:

      Squats and deads stengthen the back, but there are good accessory movements too. I have an article coming out in the next month that discusses these.

  • Angelina says:

    NVM – just saw you had a whole section about it 🙂

  • Bret,

    This exercise seems like a great idea and I definitely haven’t seen it anywhere else. I hope to try it out later this week. Though I don’t have a reverse hyper machine, I think I can make a similar design by placing some heavy kettlebells (for handles) on top of a massage table. (The more I think about it, the more I worry that my face will be smushed into the table, but oh well.)

  • Just off the bat this exercise seems to scare me a little bit. It looks like it would be a very functional, specific exercise but I just don’t know yet. I’m probably shouldn’t speak too soon, given I haven’t had the opportunity to try them yet, but in my mind

    1. This looks like a very advanced exercise. Rev. Hypers are tough for many people to control their lumber spine and get true hip extension. Now throw is great amounts of speed and single leg work and I think it would be tough to execute for many. Just looking it seems like it calls for very strong core stabilization, it looks to put a lot of forces and torque through that lumbar spine.

    2. I’m not opposed to open exercises, but this one for some reason just doesn’t sit well with me yet. I feel the correct path might be difficult and instead of hip extension and flexion, you may see a lot of excess rotation in the hips, pelvis, LS. I can see the similarities to sprinting but I think the ground contacts in sprinting make the movement a lot more stable and controlled while this seems tough to control.

    3. This works on “speed-strength” or the velocity end of the force-velocity curve, but I just think there may be better ways to target this aspect. I just can’t tell if the speed would be fast enough or the weight big enough to have a significant carryover.

    Again I haven’t tried it yet, but I WILL! I do like the fact that these may be great to take off some of the pounding and GRF forces sprinting tolls, and train unilateral hip extension with some velocity and this can’t be underestimated for creating some pelvic rhythm, timing, coordination, and control.

    Like always Bret, I appreciated all your wonderful work and always thinking outside the box and working towards better training methods. I will give these their fair shot and hope to be proved wrong!

  • Artjom says:

    Hey Bret,

    will definitely give these a try. Do you put some extra cushion under the stomach for reduction of lumbar spine extension ? Especially with beginners who have anterior pelvic tilt….might serve them as training wheels at first…

  • Patrick O'Flaherty says:

    Hey Brett,

    In terms of sequencing leg exercises in a workout session, would you recommend that the foundational exercises such as the squat or deadlift still be first? Or due to the much higher rep speed required to perform reverse hyper sprints, should these be treated like an olympic lift or plyometric and done first when the central nervous system is fresher?

    Thanks,

    Patrick

  • Andrew Schroeder says:

    My gym doesn’t have a reverse hyper machine, but I attempt to simulate it by placing an exercise ball on a bench. I don’t think this setup would be stable enough to try this exercise.

  • Patrick O'Flaherty says:

    Bret,

    Would reverse hyper sprints be good to pair with reverse sled walks as the hypers emphasize speed on the speed – strength continuum versus more strength with the sled walks?

    Thank you,

    Patrick

  • DMan says:

    Awesome article Brett. I have seen you post on some other blogs in the past and an article you had in the NSCA’s Strength and Conditioning Journal and finally took a look at your website. Will definitely picking up your e-book this week and see what I can use to implement with my clients.

    I also saw your grill the guru segment on Charles Poliquin, that guy sounds like a douche bag. The best thing is always to be real, people will recognize you for it.

  • Man these burn! I’ve done a variation of this except I am on my back using this platform to activate my hip flexors, because both hip flexors and extensors are very important in sprinting! Its hard to keep your back from arching unless you tighten your abs up hard! Great idea!

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