From my experience, improving explosive power in the hip flexors, decreasing BW & incorporating specific core targeting exercises did more for my acceleration/leg speed & improving my 40 than doing squats ever did.

But compound exercises are certainly important.

For what reason(s) star61?.

What changes 20m onwards?.

The difference lies in the ground contact time. The longer the foot is in contact with the ground the more time the for the muscles to develop maximal force. This relationship can be seen on the Force/Time curve. Because the gct in the start and accel is longer there is more time develop these forces, thus making maximal strength of primary importance especially within the first 10 meters. As the speed progresses the time to develop this force is less, therefore an increase in strength will have less transfer to distances near or around Max V.

With that said, strength is one of the easist fitness qualities to develop versus elastic or reactive power which is seen in Max V, which is why it tends to be easier to improve acceleration.

But, although it is easier to improve the earlier stages of acceleration, the improvement itself is relatively small as the distance is short. As Charlie would say, why waste so much time on the start to try and cut hundredths off your time, when you can take tenths or a whole second off concentrating on the latter portion of your race. (or something along those lines, but you get the point)

Things like squat, plyos, sleds, hills, have all shown to help in the first 20m or so, but do very little to improve Max V. For most running the forty, they are approaching Max V at 40. I was thinking of high schoolers, so for them, most of he improvement will come in the first 20m by using the methods I list above.

Very good points.

would you consider plyometrics the best way to improve Max V? Other than perhaps sprinting itself.

Not sure you’re addressing me, but I would love to hear others opinions on this. It seems that the best tools for Max V are…

  • max velocity sprints such as flying 20’s, e-f-e etc.
  • bounds (we’re doing bounds with weighted vest)

Elasticity, which you may develop with plyometrics (still aspecifically though), is just one part of the equation.
Correct form and relaxation are often more important to improve max V. Learning to relax is the most difficult thing of all. I don’t know any particular exercise that teaches this instantly. Unless you’re gifted it may take years of practice.

Charlie spoke about “frequency drills” he would have his athletes do before max speed sessions.
I asked about these a while ago, check it out:

thanks! good link

Plyos have many benefits of course, however its relation according to the F/T curve sill shows that it is not specific to max speend in regards to the ground contact.

Plyometric anad I mean the true form of plyometric as in a depth jump should have a gct in the range of .2s where as an average sprinter at Max V will have a gct around .1s.

Although they appear close, in terms of the force output they are still very far apart.

As star61 mentioned, EFE, FEF drills. flying runs and other Max V drills will be much closer in GCT versus the training elements like plyos or bounding. But they all have the place

so, could one assume that the best way to train for Max V is to train drills with the least amount of GCT? The lower the better…

I suppose, not a fan of the “best” term though. There are so many factors going into it. Understand gct and the F/T relationship, then decide what to do depending on the athlete and the situation at hand. Certainly Sprinting and speed drills are the most specific and closest in GCT, but as stated earlier Plyos, bounding, skips, and weights all have their place.

Keep in mind that the guys running 0.80s and 0.81s in races are the guys doing some power work (sleds and the like) but also lots of overdistance.

For your fitness level, the best way is to improve MaxV is to do flying sprints with a long leadin–as long a leadin as your fitness can handle. Charlie had Ben do flying 20s with a 60m leadin; Gay with Bauman has done flying 30’s with a 45m leadin.

What doesn’t get talked about as much is that after the acceleration zone, you have to be able to produce ATP fast enough and long enough to train MaxV. If your legs can’t go fast enough after accel for 50-60m, you cannot train your CNS to respond faster. This requires the fitness you get from significant amounts of SE and IT. Without this fitness, you will plateau in MaxV quickly.

Alternate leg bounding is believed to be the best plyo exercise for MaxV. But if you look through the literature, it is difficult to find any citations for plyos improving MaxV. I found a bunch with sleds and such improving the first 20m (accel) but with no effect on MaxV.

Great post lkh! However, would you mind clarifing this for me even further:

  • if a begginer-intermediate (talking about 11.0-11.5s/100m) sprinter that accelerates only to 35-45m is to train his max speed, one of the things he should be doing is flying 20’s with 25-30m leading to train the CNS properly?

Great post, I agree with this. Interestingly, the only time I remember Charlie discussing downhill running in a positive way, it was addresssing this issue. A slight downhill during the acceleration phase can put the sprinter at Max V sooner, perhaps in 30-45m depending on the athlete. You just need to make sure you are on the flat before, or right at, reaching Max V. This allows you to get to Max V sooner but with no worries of disrupting Max V mechanics.

Going by the diagram below.

Original Link:

Does the eccentric component (lowering or negative phase) of the actual deadlift or squat have its place in developing a fast athlete?, considering where trying to develop the concentric strength of a muscle as stated below?, particularly for block clearance & acceleration.

Or should we be training both eccentric & concentric components?.

So basically you’re saying its a combination of strength + flexibility + technique + relaxation + jumping and bounding drills :cool:

i don’t think you are alluding to speed endurance, however- just to clarify… Im asking about improving top end speed. Are you saying the best way to improve top speed is to practice top speed? Or that the average non-eliete trainee should focus on lengthening the amount of time spent at their current top speed? (Or both, of course)

[QUOTE=hemann;245340]So basically you’re saying its a combination of strength + flexibility + technique + relaxation + jumping and bounding drills :cool:


YEs, but I also like to think in terms of exercises that have direct vs indirect transfer. So all the sprinting would be a direct transfer, whereas weights like bench press and cleans and other exercises have more indirect transfer. They are not specific but they are still beneficial in training the CNS which will lead to a greater ‘neural capacity’ with your sprints.

How about the trap bar deadlift / hack squat for the taller leaner athlete?

For someone who is more of an ectomorph with and has long lean limbs, I’ve read a few places that (Kelly Baggett’s “Skinny Fat Ectomorph” article for one) an ectomorph has greater leverage during pulling motions (e.g. trap bar deadlift would be the one i’m interested in using) thus it might be useful. I have used the trap bar deadlift previously in place of the squat, is this a viable idea?

The idea of using the deadlift once every second week is also interesting. I am very tall and lean and I suspect my work capacity is very low, so I’d be interested in using a movement that creates benefit but does not blow my brains out CNS wise.

I am looking to cut a lot of the stress out of my outdoor program (going with a mixed S2L / L2S perhaps), so I’m interested in your opinions on the trap bar deadlift for the tall lean type.

IMHO an injured calf is worse than a hamstring injury. It may only provide 5% (according to your estimation) but it is often impossible to do any sprint training due to the force absorption calves provide. With a hamstring you can at least sprint and that is part of the rehab. My suggestion would be to train calves with high frequency 50+ reps single leg with BW rather than low reps.