Ground contact time?

If ground contact time is the difference between good sprinting and excellent sprinting…

Then are there any exercises to decrease ground contact time?

Would some people get more from plyo’s then than others? I always thought i got a good response from plyo’s, feel more power on the ground, but apparently I may be spending more time on the ground if I’m feeling more power. I hope that’s not how it’s working out!

Quick question to Herb in regards to his comment on plyo’s and the food chain.
What does your food chain look like? In other words can you rank the different training methods in their degree of importance?

Sprinting. Seems obvious but it’s true.


plyometrics have merit. However, unless strict guidelines are adhered to, they will for the most part increase gound contact time. I am sure this is obvious to you and I. However, there are far too many athletes doing plyos incorrectly, and rank them as a priority, when they are close to the botom of the food chain as far as I am concerned.

I wasn’t dismissing plyos. I was simply adding to what you had said. The main way to improve sprinting speed is to sprint. All other high intensity training (plyos, weights, med ball, etc.) is supplemental and general in nature. Therefore, sprinting forms the core of the training, with the other elements incorporated as needed and as able. Don’t forget Ben Johnson didn’t do plyos because of knee problems, so there are many ways to skin a cat. But I want to be clear that I do think plyos are helpful depending on the situation.


I think that you are probably right that some people will get more out of plyos than others. If you naturally have a good stretch shortening cycle (SSC) and are already very springy, then plyos may be redundant and your time may be better spent on strength and speed-strength. On the other hand, if you are strong but don’t have much spring, plyos may be just what the doctor ordered.

However, the usual caveats apply: the best way to get better at sprinting it to regularly run high quality sprints at >95% pace. Plyos probably have some place in most people’s programs, but they are <i>at best</i> secondary. I think Charlie has said something to the effect of “sprinting is the most specific plyometric exercise that a sprinter can perform.”


Quickly here is my “food chain”

  1. Sprinting
  2. Tempo (includes some medicine ball core work)
  3. Weights
  4. plyos.

If ground contact time is the difference between good sprinting and excellent sprinting

Ground Reaction Forces is the key difference between average sprinters and the elite ones. Apply more force to the ground the faster and further you will travel.

We need to evolve our thinking from training for minimal CT to training for higher ground reaction forces.


Really? Tempo has a higher priority than weights? I would switch those two around.


Tempo/core work SHOULD have a higher priority than weights!
Don’t believe me…just look at Carl Lewis previous program(s)

Did Carl ever do push ups or one legged squats, or glute/ham raises etc? Did he do a lot of medball throws? What else did he do, other than sprints and plyo’s to develope his core strength, leg strength and organism strength?

I have always wondered how Carl got that shoulder development (particularly the outer part) in the 80s if he wasnt using weights. How do you think he did that?

Possibly pushups. I’m particularly interested in how Carl did not get that many injuries, considering such a long career. How did his hamstrings generate enough force and rarely get injured despite not lifting weights?

Not specifically related to the hamstrings, but a lot of technically sound sprinters tend to avoid injury more than others. Carl in my opinion is possibly the best technician ever to grace the track. I know there will be debate, cos I’m sure Frank Fredericks will come up, and possibly Christian Malcolm, but Lewis was a smooth mover, and technically, everything was just about right.

It seems Lewis is paying for a long jump career now though, as I understand he has bad arthritis in the knees, or something similar.

Thoughts? Does good technique help sprinters to remain injury free?


First off, lifting heavy weights in and of itself provides significant core strength work. Check out Mel Siff’s Supertraining group for lots of discussion on this point.

Secondly the fact that Carl did not use heavy weights simply says that there is more than one way to skin a cat. I believe that he did more extensive plyometric work, so he may have used that as a substitute for the weight work. Ben did do extensive heavy weight training and I belive that this training contributed more to his sprint performance than the tempo work did.

On the other hand, we are probably missing the point here because all of the training elements are holistic. Perhaps Ben could not have recovered from the heavy weight sessions and the speed work if he did not do the tempo. I’m not advocating dropping anything, just trying to set relative priorities.


i din’t even know why carl introduced weights into his programme during 2000.i saw it as risky introducing something so demanding into an athletes career so late on.why didn’t he stick to his usual workouts! i can make a call and get the answer but too lazy

He actually introduced it in 95/96.; because he did not compete on a high level since 1993. He felt he “simply needed the strength.”

Did Carl ever do push ups or one legged squats, or glute/ham raises etc? Did he do a lot of medball throws? What else did he do, other than sprints and plyo’s to develope his core strength, leg strength and organism strength?

Carl did plyo’s and med ball throws!

The original statement was that “tempo/core work has a higher priority than weights.”

My example of Carl Lewis was to show that one could make it to the highest levels of trackand field WITHOUT weight training. Yet one CANNOT make it to the highest level WITHOUT tempo (extensive AND/OR intensive) and core work. That is why tempo/core is of a higher priority than weight training

…Of course the training elements are “holistic.”

Carl was the most athletic ever, but there were faster athletes than Carl.

Carl lewis had the most talent of any athlete alive or dead for that matter.

I don’t just mean people who have beaten Carl’s times either. I mean people who had more potential in the sprints. I say the title of “World’s Fastest Human Ever” is a toss-up b/w Ben Johnson and Bullet Bob Hayes.