Does Strength Training your calves lead to a better sprint performance

Referring to “Training For Speed” by Charlie Francis, Francis on page 55 states that " Note 1. 500 watts of power generated at the ankle vs 3500 watts at the hip. Note 2. Calves must not be over developed as excessive size can overweight the end of the leg-lever and slow leg movement."

On Note 1. You should still strength train calves because even a 7:1 power ratio i.e. 500 watts is still power that can help a sprinter become faster.

On Note 2. I understand this point and even agree with it (looking at the musculature of cheetas their arm and leg mass are puny compared to their body); however (playing Devil’s Advocate), doesn’t the strength (and potential power) benefits outweigh this effect. I am referring to the (hips, knees, and finally ankle) triple extension in sprinting.

I don’t know nearly as much as Charlie Francis or any other great Olympic sprint coach but I do want a better explanation and possibly some reasons and examples.

The sprinting in spikes itself are enough muscle fiber stimulation for the calves. Along with olympic lifts such as powercleans which you are also using the calve muscle.

The only time i do extra calf work is now (during my offseason) where i do toe raises to maintain strength since i am not running.

In sprinting, power speed drills, plyos, strength end, etc the claves do a tremendous amount of work already.

I Think Its Simple,

You Squat, Clean, Snatch, Jump, Sprint And Bound And You Grow Big Strong Calves.

I Have Seen It In My Own Training As Well As My Athletes!!!

Cant one say the same for the quads, hams, and glutes?

The calves are involved to an extensive degree in all these activities while the other groups are involved to varying degrees depending on the activity. I’m always trying to explain my reasoning for choosing the exercises I did or didn’t do.
Might be better to turn this around. Can someone show us a program that has been very successful that does work the calves separately? It’s easier then to decide which plan you prefer.

Since I have been called worse things then the devil…Doesn’t Dan do specific calf work as well?

I don’t know, beyond single and double leg hops holding a med ball. This might be similar to power-speed drills done with a weight vest (something I’ve used as well) though the volume/duration appears higher.
Do you have details that you can post?

I did read from “Faccioni’s” (I think that’s the spelling), literature, that Dan Pfaff recomended something that was listed as “Eccentric calves”, in the weights program for his sprinters.

Faccioni can easily be found on Google search from typing words such as;

Dan Pfaff John Smith drive phase sprint speed training Faccioni squats etc…

Copy and paste above words to Google search, open up the link that will come up; “speed developement methods”.

The above will take you to “Acrobat reader”, go to page 20, it sais “eccentric calves”.

Sprint drills and sprints in spikes plus weighted jumps have actually built my calves MORE than what a calf raise machine ever did anyway. Though I’m not sure if that same affect can be said for others that have done both.

There is a mention in another thread of eccentric calf work as part of therapy for achilles tendonitis.

Supervenomsuperman, I like the fact that you mention the “cheetah” and that it’s lower legs are skinny compared to it’s hip muscalature. I’m a big fan of that animal! The pronghorn antelope is the second fastest animmal on land and no suprise, it’s lower legs, well… there’s nothing of them.

However, the TENDON strength in the calves of the cheetah are long indeed and must be both very strong and the right amount of stiffness “V” compliance. In studies of runners from humans to horses a lot of them suggest that the amount of energy that can be stored and released by the achiles tendons is more important than the bulk of the calf.

Then the question could be; Do sprint drills, weighted jumps, power endurance running A’s with hip belt or weight vest, develope the achilles tendon ability to store and release more energy (than calf raises?)

I would personally suggest they do.

And the Kangaroo …

no23, here’s one about the Kangaroo…

A mother carrying it’s baby Joey, expands no more energy travelling along at X pace than when it is not carrying it’s child becuase it’s weight distribution and incredible ability at storing and releasing energy via the tendons.
But I think that changes once it starts doing really big jumps.

My apolagies to the rest for going slightly off tangent.

Give me a break. How can the scientist differentiate the weight of the Joey when he’s in there too!

Perhaps I did not correctly explain, and it’s only what I heard off a wildlife documentary. Even when the baby kangaroo gets older and a LOT bigger than when it first enters the pouch it still likes to occasionally go back to it’s mothers pouch. I’m talking about young kangaroo’s that are big enough to hop around by themselves but still go back to the pouch.
According to the documentary the mother is not expanding anymore muscular effort moving along with the not quite so young and weighing more than a few pounds child than when not carrying it. That’s the bit I remember clearly.
I vaguely remember them saying that this phenomenom is only at a certain pace.

Good Animal Kingdom discussion. Where’s Marlin Perkins? (for you young guys he hosted Animal Kingdom back in the 60’s)

I don’t have any contribution to this thread other than for Super and Goose here’s an interesting link on the Cheetah and why it can run at the speed it does.

Marlin always had the right idea! From the studio, probably in Manhattan, he say: “Jim here will now enter the Amazon River and wrestle the giant Anaconda!” (At this point, Jim would be glowering in the direction of the camera!)

My calves are very weak. I mean I can hardly do any raises with weights. Even though I HAVE been training for a very long time. But still everything is growing stronger but my calves. I don’t know what to do about it. Does it have something to do with genetics or should I target it a little bit on its own

It’s possible, if there’s a deficiency. The question is, how best to target them. What is the sign of weakness? Is it identifiable function or appearance?