Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
Can Sprinters Long Jump?
In this video from my YouTube channel I take a look at some of the reasons why sprinters find it difficult to long jump.
You'd think that with good speed (potentially the key requirement of long jumping) that they would naturally make great jumpers. However, when you look into it the number of elite combined sprinters and jumpers is minimal. Only Carl Lewis really was consistently successful at the 100m, 200m and long jump.
In my analysis I also reverse the argument and consider why long jumpers don't feature in the sprints also at elite level.
The following reasons are covered.
Lack of training time Different energy systems used
Different training emphases - sprint start and acceleration v take-off mechanics
Different mind-set (something often overlooked)
Different body type and muscle mass Different running/sprinting technique!
From consideration of these factors it will become much more apparent as to just why sprinters (of all levels which is really the aim of the video i.e. to showcase what's needed to be a good long jumper) are not able to make such good long jumpers and vice-versa.
It can be done by some. ... and that may be a subject matter for another video.
And will Marcel Lamont-Jacobs make a return to the long jump?
I can't wait to see if he does.
#longjump #sprint #sprinterswholongjump
DO YOU REALLY NEED TO DO SQUATS? If I were to say to coaches of athletes in a range of sports from football to sprinting to rugby to martial arts to marathon running, that their athletes shouldn’t squat, I’d probably be run out of town (as fast as my non-significantly squat trained legs would allow!). I can hear the cry already, ‘Squats are a must-do; they’re a fundamental part of sports conditioning’.
However, it’s possible to argue that squats are perhaps over-rated and their value to actually enhancing sprint speed, particularly in the training mature athlete (i.e. when an athlete has developed considerable ability to bend and extend their knees against resistance) questionable. In the beginning God created the Squat
The movement of bending and straightening our legs (using the ankle, knee and hip joints) known as flexion and extension respectively is a fundamental human movement. Hundreds of everyday actions require a squat, the most obvious being sitting and getting up out of a chair. The resisted squat as used in sports conditioning, i.e. with added weight (for example, with barbells, barbell and chains, dumbbells and powerbags for example), can be found in the majority of athletes’ training routines. These exercises are normally performed with a concentric muscular action emphasis. This means that the muscles of the ankle, knee and hip joints shorten under load to move the weight. Squat jumps can also be included in this category where the athlete lowers, perhaps holding dumbbells at arms’ length or a barbell across their shoulders and then rapidly extend their thighs to leap into the air. This is a dynamic exercise I really like.
There are numerous other squat variations, such as single leg squats, Bulgarian split squats and single leg squats, however, the focus of this post is largely placed on the double leg back squat. Coaches from virtually all sports prescribe the squat in the conditioning routines of their athlete and for valid reasons. The action of extension and flexion is fundamental to running and jumping. On foot-strike during the gait cycle a runner’s knee’s will be flexed ready to absorb and transfer ground forces to propel the athlete forwards by means of rapid extension of the ankle, knee and hip. So we can see how easily the squat can be viewed, for example, as a sprint mirroring exercise.
Many sprint coaches and athletes will be familiar with developing significant squat strength as manifested in 1 rep max ability, but conversely fail to see direct improvement in what really matters sprint speed. Now there are a number of potential reasons for this:
1. The Closeness of the Squatting Action to What’s Actually Required when Sprinting
Sprinting is a unilateral activity, the normal squat bilateral. A sprinter’s foot will only be in contact with the ground for 0.089 of a second or so when they are flat out and traveling at 11-12m/s for elite men - and in that blink of an eye they have to impart and overcome force equal to two-three times their body weight. And they will need to transfer the vertical absorption of force into a horizontal push through optimum sprinting biomechanics to get to the line as fast as possible. Can you think of a time when you or an athlete you have coached has achieved those parameters when squatting? An athlete weighing 80kg would have to shift potentially 240kgs in that nanosecond! So, it’s very unlikely.
Now, equally crucially in terms of what I am going to argue later on, how are the dominant muscles in the squat (the quads), relating to the other key muscles involved in sprinting, notably the hamstrings and hip-flexors.
The actual contribution of these latter muscles to the squat, although used in the exercise’s action are much reduced in comparison to what's required when sprinting – again of which more later.
Relevance of Muscular Actions
Unless there is an attempt on the part of the athlete to lower and drive up out of the squat movement as fast as possible, the stretch-shortening cycle will not really be tested in the way that they are during sprinting (and even if this is done the match will be minor rather than major). Considering the hamstrings – a similar stretch, followed by a rapid contraction is fundamental to the late swing phase in the running cycle, when the lower leg is pulled back toward the track ready for foot-strike.
Additionally the degree to which the hamstring is lengthened with significant force being generated at both its poles is very different. These actions/requirements are not a part of the squat, although the hamstrings are engaged during the eccentric phase.
A very similar argument can be forwarded for the hip flexors – of which more later. Sprinting is a plyometric activity. The 100m distance is normally completed for elite men using 41-45 steps. On each and every one of these the muscles (and other soft tissue) will be required to catapult the sprinter forwards. On foot-strike the musculotendon structures of the ankles, knees and hips will be put on stretch and then they will contract virtually instantaneously and in doing so will generate great power (also known as the stretch-shortening-cycle). As noted the squat is a primarily concentric movement.
Now, it is true that greater concentric power will boost sprint speed (particularly in new to sprinting athletes and in terms of enhanced acceleration, of which more later), however, once a basic level of extensor-derived quad strength is developed the role of the squat becomes significantly reduced as a sprint speed enhancer.
As touched upon much research also suggests that heavy load squats have more of a relevance to conditioning acceleration rather than flat out speed.
American researchers looked at the relationship between body weight, 1RM squat and 5,10 and 40 yard times (1). Seventeen male US Football players participated in the survey and they were divided into groups in relation to their 1RM squat and their body mass. Squats were tested to a degree of flexion of 70-degrees and power-to-weight ratio calculated. Sprint times were assessed by way of timing gates. Perhaps not surprisingly it was found that the athletes with the superior power-to-weight ratios had faster times at 10 and 40 yards. It’s important to consider power-to-weight ratio in the light of ultimate sprint performance ability and squat training protocols. If an athlete regularly trains using a 4-6 set x 8-10 rep protocol, using weights in the 70-85% 1RM ranges then the workout will elicit a significant androgen response. This will likely result in weight gain through muscle hypertrophy, due to the copious amounts of the stimulatory hormones being produced - testosterone and growth hormone. Thus coach and athlete must be mindful of the squat protocols they employ (and for other similar exercises and always be aware of body weight increases and its affects on power to weight ratio).
Research backs up the notion of the importance of the hip flexors when it comes to sprinting. A Japanese team specifically looked at the contribution of the psoas major and thigh muscularity on the 100m times of junior sprinters (4). The research comprised of 44 sprinters (22 male and 22 female) aged 14-17. The cross sectional area of the quadriceps femoris, hamstrings and psoas major were analysed using magnetic resonance imaging. The average of left and right sides was calculated and this was related to 100m performance from official races. It was discovered in both genders that the faster sprinters had a greater development of the psoas major in comparison to the quadriceps femorsis muscles. Absolute muscle size was not a factor.
However, having said that it is likely that psoas major muscle size in elite sprinters is a key attribute to generating speed. In an RTE documentary on Asafa Power (former world 100m record holder with 9.76 seconds) it was discovered that his psoas major was twice the size of that of 10.02 Japanese sprinter Nobunara Ashara (5).
To be continued
1) J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Sep;23(6):1633-6. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b2b8aa.
2) Above: Instr Course Lect. 1995;44:497-506. Motion Analysis Laboratory, Gillette Children's Hospital, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.
3) Joes Scott: http://speedendurance.com/2013/01/21/3-reasons-the-squat-is-not-the-cornerstone-of-strength-training-for-sprinters/
4) Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Dec;38(12):2138-43. 5) RTE documentary (available on youtube) http://hight3ch.com/the-science-behind-asafa-powells-speed-documentary/
Jargon Buster Psoas Major: Long muscle that runs from the spine across the pelvis to attach onto the thigh bone. As part of the hip flexors it functions to lift and externally rotate the leg.
MY TOP 5 LONG JUMP EXERCISES
I thought I'd produce a simple overview video which provides you with my top 5 long jump exercises.
My 5 cover technique, conditioning and speed development. So, just what are they? 1: Mat drills - to improve take-off and take-off set-up 2: Run-up development work 3: Bar drills - to improve speed, power and posture 4: Speed bounds to improve reactivity 5: Drop jumps - to improve speed, leg stiffness and reactivity I believe that you won't go far wrong if you emphasise those 5 exercises across the training year. I don't include weight training as it's - at least to me - not fundamental in improving a jumper. In terms of a return on it you'll not get the same as you would as on the 5 exercises I have listed here. What do you think?
Do you agree or disagree with my top 5? #top5longjumpexercises #longjump #howtolongjump
In this video I take a look at fast twitch muscle fibre and how best to train it. This is in part a response to a question from a channel subscriber - James. James went into some detail about new research into fast twitch fibre and how it can or cannot be trained. He focussed on a more newly discovered or at least getting more widespread attention type 11x fibres. These are a further intermediate fast twitch fibre - like the type11a. These however are seen to have a greater potentiality to provide power and speed. In producing this video I looked at some more research and it does seem that it may be more difficult to produce more type 11b fibres than perhaps previously thought. Type 11bs are the real speed and power producing muscle fibres. Now it seems that the number of these that we have may be relatively static and determined at birth. It’s the potential to alter the contractile properties and rate of firing of the the type 11a and type 11x fibres that may now provided the greatest return on our training. Consequentially I provide some information on what may the best training means to do this. I provided some research of the stretch-shortening cycle and plyometric exercises as these may provide superior gains in terms of fibre transference (i.e. making type 11a and type 11x fibre more explosive. Also I point to the benefits of complex and contrast training. This way of combining weights exercises with plyometrics has long been a favourite of mine. The benefits are seen to be greater neuromuscular recruitment and the ability to recruit larger numbers of fast twitch muscle fibres and the motor units which control them.
Theragun March 2023 Offers
Save on various Theragun Products see above.
I've been using Theraguns for a couple of years now as have some of my group members. I have found them to be useful for warm-up and for a quick muscle activation. They can stimulate blood flow and therefore get muscles and other soft tissue ready for training. And they help with certain aches and pains.
The Mini packs a good punch given its size ... it doesn't have the same amplitude as the bigger models but does have 3 speeds. It's pretty light, easy to use due to its grip and therefore good to take with you to training or trips away.
See my review of the Theragun Mini above.