bodybuilding training for hamstrings more effective than max strength speed

Peeps check this piece of research out:
Basically Prof Wiemann has discovered that max strength and power training are less effective for improving speed compared to bodybuilding or hypertrophy training.

Force training for the Sprintlauf

Project manager: Professor Dr. Klaus how/as man
in co-operation with Prof. Dr. Guenter Tidow ,
Humboldt university Berlin

Short characterisation of the project:

In connection with the project shortened titles “Sprint” became i.e. over several years experimental groups in different sequence with different force training forms,

  • cross section training,
  • training for neural activation and
  • time-controlled high-speed force training
    for the Hueftbeuge and Hueftstreckmuskulatur treats (per training form in each case over one time interval from 3 to 4 weeks) and the effect on the speed in the short print examines. As substantial findings it had to be stated that against the past lehrmeinungen cross section training (hypertrophy/bodybuilding) quite led to an improvement of the Sprintleistung, which made training of the neural activation against it the performance increase won by cross section training again destroyed. From these findings large consequences are derived regarding the examination of the effect of the force training and its employment in the achievement sport.

Detailed report: (in preparation)

Motion analysis, achievement diagnosis and
Training optimization of the Sprints

Project manager: Professor Dr. Klaus how/as man
in co-operation with Prof. Dr. Guenter Tidow ,
Humboldt university Berlin

Coworker: Dr. Thomas Joellenbeck

Short characterisation of the project:

On the basis of the acceptance that the Hueftstreckmuskeln produces the substantial propulsion with the Sprint, elektromyografische analyses of German sharpening printer were accomplished. The findings represented the basis for the development of force training equipment for the sprintrelevante musculature, which is applicable both for the achievement diagnostics and for a purposeful Sprintkrafttraining.

Detailed report:

  1. A goal of the main point of research
    The goal of the available main point of research is appropriate of conceiving on the basis of a correction of the tradierten biomechanical and functional-anatomical conceptions over the technique example and requirement profile in the Sprintlauf an equipment which can make both the diagnosis of the leistungsniveaus and the controlling of the adaptation processes for an achievement optimization in the demand sector for strength and high-speed strength possible in the Sprintlauf.

  2. Development of the main point of research
    Basis of the available main point of research is the problem in the function of two-articulated muscles. The project manager led for the first time 1989 already the?LOMBARDsche paradoxon for a long time well-known in biology ", which mentioned that two-articulated muscles can exercise two completely contrary functions on one of the joints - depending upon mechanical situation -, affected by them, in sport anatomy and the training and movement motion and would apply it to bend muscles of the thigh, so-called ischiokruralen muscles. The thesis proceeded from the assumption the fact that if the leg of the sportsman stands firmly on the soil, which ischiokruralen muscles apart from a stretching effect on the hip joint additionally also has a stretching effect on the knee joint, although this muscles in sport anatomy generalized as knee bend muscles is considered. As the further consequence it was concluded that ischiokruralen muscles due to them attributed the impact those muscles must be, which are considerably in the production of acceleration and the maintenance of the speed involved in the Sprint [ down load of the complete contribution ]

First achievement-diagnostic collections at a contingent of German Sprinter of the top class and experimental investigations - promoted by research means of the Federal institut for sport science - could confirm this acceptance [ down load of the complete contribution ]

After initial meeting with hostility from the camp of sport anatomy and the training science representatives of the training teachings of the Sprintlaufes, who regarded to kneeling kneel musclekneeling muscles so far excluding as propulsion-producing, were correct the thesis only zoegerlich for the time being too. In the meantime this concept is accepted as basis for training planning in the Sprintbereich of the German Leichtathletikverbandes. 1994 were developed at the Bergi university University of Wuppertal - in co-operation with Professor Dr. G. Tidow, Humboldt Humboldt-Universitaet Berlin - force training equipment for the Sprintlauf, converted with its construction the principles, which result from the new thesis.
Training experiments, which followed in the following years, could supply first results for the effectiveness of the trainingsgeraetes.

  1. Findings
    In the context of the achievement diagnostics correlates at the Sprintkraft sprintkraft-Trainingsgeraet tested the maximum force of the Hueftstreckmuskeln with the Sprintzeit (30m flying) with r = -0.45, the maximum force of the Hueftbeugemuskeln with the Sprintzeit with r = - 0,6. A 12-woechiges force training at the Sprintkraft sprintkraft-Trainingsgeraet improves the Sprintzeit (30m flying) around approximately 0.08 s. of the force training methods which were used at the Sprintkrafttrainingsgeraet (1st cross section method, 2. Method of the neural activation, 3. High-speed force method) proved the cross section method for the improvement of the Sprintzeit most effectively, while the method of the neural activation eliminated the Sprintleistung not improved and/or the performance increase won by the cross section method again.

  2. Continuation of the project
    Starting from the training period 97/98 that-print-strength-training-turned out at the olympia base Dortmund under scientific support of the project manager and its working group/research centre is used and the transmission of the basic findings into the Traingsgestaltung Sprint of the high speed range is examined on a long-term basis.

  3. Publications to the research project

HOW/AS MAN, K. (1986): The muscle activity when running. Achievement sport, 4, 16, P. 27-31.
HOW/AS MAN, K. (1989): Ischiocruralen muscles with the Sprint. The theory of the leichtathletik, 27: 783-786 and 28: P. 816-818.

JOELLENBECK, T./COCK, K./HOW/AS MAN, K. (1990): Strength and stretch training ischiocruralen muscles for the improvement of the Sprintleistung. In: BRUEGGEMANN, g.-p./ruehl, J.K. (eds.): “Technics in athletics” - Cologne, 7.-9. June 1990. Conference proceedings, volume 2. Cologne: Sport and book bunch - edition sport: 479-485.

HOW/AS MAN, K. (1990): Paradoxes muscle actions with the Sprint - consequences for the Sprinttechnik. In: BRUEGGEMANN, g.-p./ruehl, J.K. (eds.): “Technics in athletics” - Cologne, 7.-9. June 1990. Conference proceedings, volume 2. Cologne: Sport and book bunch - edition sport, 470-478.

HOW/AS MAN, K. (1991): The function of the ischiocruralen musculature with the Sprint and the meaning for technique training. In: DAUGS/MECHLING/BLISCHKE/OLIVIER (Hrsg.): Sport-motor learning and technique training. Schorndorf: 270-274.

HOW/AS MAN, K. (1991): Specifying the LOMBARD paradox in the function ischiocruralen muscles with the Sprint. In: Sport science 4: 413-428. [ abstract ] [ down load ]

HOW/AS MAN, K. (1991): The function ischiocruralen muscles with the Sprint and the meaning for technique training. In: DAUGS, R. among other things. (Hrsg.): Sport-motor learning and technique training. International symposium Motorik AND MOVEMENT RESEARCH in Saarbruecken in August 1989, Schorndorf: S.270-274.

TIDOW, G./HOW/AS MAN, K. (1994): To the optimization of the Sprintlaufs - movement-analytic aspects. Achievement sport 5: 14-19.

TIDOW, G./HOW/AS MAN, K. (1994): To the optimization of the Sprintlaufs - achievement-diagnostic aspects and training-practical consequences. Achievement sport 6: 11-16.

HOW/AS MAN, K./TIDOW, G. (1994): The Adduktoren with the Sprint - so far neglects? The theory of the leichtathletik 7: 15-18 and 8: 15-18.

HOW/AS MAN, K./TIDOW, G. (1995): Relative activity OF hip and knee extensors in sprinting - implications for training. New Studies in Athletics, 1: 29-49. [ down load ]

HOW/AS MAN, K. (1995): MVC quotient in the Hueftbereich and Sprint. In: JUG, J./MINOW, h-J. (Hrsg): Sporty achievement and training. Sank Augustin. 263-267.

HOW/AS MAN, K. (1995): The ischiokrurale musculature. In: CARL, K./Quade, k/steal, P.(Hrsg.): Force training in the sport-scientific research.
Cologne. 84-119.


Interesting on several fronts (from what I can understand of what I see!):
!: This supports the idea of general vs specific lifting (note the discussion of the resistance of the German sprint coaches to accept exercises that involved knee movement- like squats as unrelated to sprinting). Bodybuilding methods likely included a wider range of exercises.
2:There is no negative impact on coordination and muscular activity in sprinting due to the weightlifting exercises chosen. (Note the reference to Lombard’s Paradox. This is the shift of the role of the hamstring from a flexor of the knee to an extensor of the knee [as well as the hip] as the knee angle opens up, as found in top class sprinting). Certainly, this is my experience, and it is supported by the experience of all three sub-9.80 sprinters, but can anyone clarify exactly what is being said here?
3: This would support my supposition that work anywhere on the strength curve (and anywhere on the body for that matter!) yields benefits everywhere on the curve.
4: A corollary to point 3 is that work in the bodybuilding area is less competitive for the CNS energy needed for the advancement of speed through speed work itself. This is supported by the fact that the closer the CNS demand of the strengthening method is to sprinting itself, the LESS effective it is overall.(All three sprinters who have gone sub-9.80 have used general lifting methods, including the squat.)
5: This would represent a shift in lifting methods towards bodybuilding in Europe, after more than 30 years of specific, just when Gurus in America are advocating the abandonment of bodybuilding and the adaptation of specific models from the Europeans!


I have emailed professor Wiemann. He has promised to get back to me. What is interesting is the fact that he himself along with experts like Bompa, Siff and others advocated that spending time body building would lead to a lack of power development. Yet Wiemann and others are discovering that cross-section training is more beneficial and max training DECREASES or even reverses gains made by cross section training for speed.

First, I don’t think Bompa’s ever been opposed to bodybuilding methods. A large part of his annual plans,that I’ve seen, have been spent in this area.
Second, I think we should be very careful not to jump to conclusions about max training. Max training is very sensitive to the number of reps and exercises in a session (prob no more than 2 exercises per session with the rest maintained as bodybuilding), the number of times per week (max 3) and the duration of the max period (no more than 3 weeks at a time without interruption or, in a longer phase, 2 blocks of 3 wks with a recovery week between), and with strict limits on the percentage of gain sought.
A better description of bodybuilding methods would be: “Less competitive for CNS resources”. When you remember this interaction you should be able to plan successfully. You can find a discussion of this topic in the CFTS, available on the site with contributions from Bompa as well.

Great discussion material here. One concept that has failed to have been addressed, or I might have missed, is:

Now, I understand that this specific material is focused on hamstring development. I just want to make it clear to athletes/sprinters that although a hypertrophy based program may be optimal for the bio-mechanical role that the hamstrings group play in sprinting; one must not be mislead into thinking that hypertrophy based training is now the preferred method for improving athletic performance.

I can just see it; “you guys won’t believe it, I was on Charlie Francis’ board the other day and it was stated that in order to get faster we should be training like bodybuilders.”


I am not clear at all on which exercise or exercises are being discussed. all I can make out was an objection to some exercises based on the hamstring’s role in sprinting. A further point, as the hamstring is so fast moving, the comparative differential between CNS demands will be greater.

Charlie Francis Quote:

A better description of bodybuilding methods would be: “Less competitive for CNS resources”. When you remember this interaction you should be able to plan successfully & fact that the closer the CNS demand of the strengthening method is to sprinting itself, the LESS effective it is overall.(All three sprinters who have gone sub-9.80 have used general lifting methods, including the squat.)

I think these observations are spot on. The evidence suggests that general exercises that strengthen the muscles used by a particualr sport is enough. Again, as argued in previous debates, why risk injury and time participating in complex skill exercises for training when benefits and goals can me achieved by specific training (sprinting) and general bodybuilding exercises, such as squats and lunges and so on.

I am a relative bum in terms of my achievements but I have always been an astute observer (I think). I know from my own experience that bodybuilding training for strength is just as beneficial in terms of strength improvement as when I did olympic lifting. In fact, in one period (4 months) I managed to improve my standing long jump from 2.75 to 2.90 just from leg extensions, leg curls and leg presses with no jumping or running at all. I believe that as long as skill is maintained, then basic exercises for strength are safer and beneficial.

If we have moved away from specifically addressing the hamstrings group then I must add a serious objection to the idea of utilizing bodybuilding methodology in favor of training methods which address starting strength/RFD/strength speed.

In sprinting, for example, I will agree that the hypertrophy of the hamstrings will facilitate speed development when track specific speed work is the method of choice for developing top speed.

However, in no way will I be convinced that this training methodology will also facilitate faster starts/accelerations in which explosive strength/strength speed/acceleration strength is paramount.

Allow me to make a hypothetical;

Goal: fastest first 10m

Athlete A utilizes squats, cleans/pulls,lunges, step ups, dead lifts, good-mornings all with hypertrophy(repetition method)based loading parameters

Athlete B utilizes the exact same lifts however he employs loading parameters which specifically address strength speed/explosive strength/starting strength, (ie, dynamic effort/max effort work), in addition to repetition method training parameters.

Both A and B utilize specific work on the track to develop acceleration/starting strength

My money will always go on athlete B, simply because when starting strength/explosive strength/and strength speed are the motor qualities which must be developed, there is no substitute for dynamic effort and maximum effort work (in the weight room). By only employing hypertrophy based loading parameters the only methods left for developing starting strength/RFD are plyos-jumps-starts-accelerations, which are great training tools, however, in order to develop strength-speed, which is vital for a strong start, external resistance (in the weight room) is absolutely a must.

What this boils down to is you take a bodybuilder and give him track work and I will take a olympic lifter/powerlifter and give him track work and in 8 weeks, when our athletes race each other in a short sprint, I will win every time.

This is my arguement.


I agree with most of the above.

1/ It does not mean that we forget max strength training. Or throw out all the training methods used that have been very successful.

2/The muscles targeted were JUST the hamstrings. This is interesting because the hams or ischiocrural muscles are predominantly fast twitch unlike the quads. They are also fusiform in structure.

The cross-section training was done 3-4 weeks at a time followed immediately by max strength for the same amount of time and then speed-strength training.

I personally think that IF the findings are proven, then you could get away with training the hams in a less CNS demanding way with specific exercises similar to the study (will know which exercises soon) for 3-4 weeks at a time whilst training in normally in the squat. I do not think that training the whole body in such a fashion would be beneficial, because you would gain unnecessary mass, and afer all sprinting is a bodyweight limiting event to a certain extent. Well developed hams it seems is the key. Lets wait for this email from Prof Wiemann.

Of course a olympic lifter is likely to beat a bodybuilder in a sprint if both have not trained for running. After all, the Olympic lifter trains with explosive exercises wheras a bodybuilder does not.

However, if you take a sprinter that has developed his or her abilities over the years while also doing conditioning exercises such as squats and lunges, then the olympic lifter would be likely to lose because of a lack of skill and so on. This is because the sprinter also has developed the power needed for running by running itself, a process aided by other conditioning exercises to strengthen relevant muscles. As I have said before, i will never forget the film clip i saw of Ben johnson jumping in the air of the ground. While he did not do much bounding, the sprinting combined with squats and other exercises made him an incredibly explosive athlete. In my opinion, cleans, jerks, snatches would have made little difference.

Hence, I maintain that basic weight traing exercises are all you need in terms of conditioning, besides specific sprint training, and any test on one’s CNS system should mostly be left on the track. Again, this is just my opinion.


Just wondering:

First up, what exactly do specific weights entail? Whilst no movement has a high degree of specificity relating to sprinting across the board think most of the leg movements used by sprinters in the gym could be descibed in both specific and non-specific terms, in a multitude of catagories ranging from speed of movement, range of movement, muscles used and firing patterns.

are there other factors pertaining to muscular activity other than force production that are improved though resistance training and taking this question into consideration are body building methods really any less specific to sprinting as a whole than max. strength training.

And finally, what’s your opinion on the term “functional hypertrophy”? Personally I feel it’s a bit of a misnomer.


what were the rep ranges? hamstrings being a predominantly fast twitch muscle could mean rep level of up to 5RM could count as rep. work for certain exercises, this rep level with good mornings has caused great hypertrophy in my hamstrings…

One of the references for this article is in English, it may help? It discusses Lombard’s paradox:

I posted that information from this article in the Eccentric “v” concentric sprinting? thread in Sprint Training.

As before this information has been presented here more than once and discussed on the Supertraining forum.

For those that can track down the article I would suggest reading-

Aspects of Strength Training in Athletics
G. Tidow
New Studies in Athletics 5 (1), pp. 93-110. 1990

for more information on the classification of strength training methods referenced in this study.

That’s a good question. I think strength from weights hits the body via general means, ie squats can be usefull, even though they do not approximate the sprinting action, with most of the specific work (or adaptation) done through the sprinting itself.

I had a hard time reading through all that but if these were upper level sprinters then it makes sense. There is only so much you can get out of a given amount of muscle and if they are talking about upper level sprinters here then these guys are near the top in terms of muscle recruitment/power per given amount of muscle cross section area. When the difference between explosive strength and potential strength is small (explosive strength deficit), than hypertrophy training creates more structural support to draw from.

Also, strength gains coming after a foundation of hypertrophy training, with all things being equal, will stick around longer.

Siff etc and the Soviet/Eastern bloc coaches never really preached against hypertrophy training. They merely suggested, as Kelly alluded to, that there’s a level of optimal hypertrophy for every individual and every sport.

Consider a beginning athlete, a traditional ectomorph with little body mass. There’s very, very few instances when that athlete won’t benefit from mass gains.

On the other hand, you’ve got a guy that’s been lifting for 10 years and has accrued a sizable amount of LBM. In that case, he should be more concerned with neurological factors.

Those are just basic examples, extremes shown to prove a point. The actual gradations are rarely going to be so absolute, so there’s almost always a benefit to sequencing general and specific means (considering that both can be structural or neurological in nature) according to the individual needs.

Besides the fact that bodybuilding methods are less competitive for CNS resources, could the improvement be due to increased muscle stiffness as some others have stated? I know CT ran an article last week on fast-twitch development and he touched on how restricting oxygen to the muscle resulted in the same fast twitch involvement as max strength. Thoughts?

I believe that longer duration strength training (BB style lifting) aids in the development of the anaerobic glycolysis energy pathway which is linked to muscle stiffness. Through this mechanism, the prevalent use of BB training among sprinters (with apparent success) can be explained.

As for the lack of oxygen leading to a greater targeting of fast twitch muscle fibers, I don’t think this plays a role within longer duration sets, unless those sets are isometric holds or at least 20 seconds duration (read: failure will occur due to occlusion).

BTW: twhite, have you seen my recent thread over on the Inno-Sport board? I believe you have an account there.