High Speed Treadmill Training

A colleague recently signed up his son to train at a facility that uses high speed treadmills. I tried to explain to him that, not only is this dangerous, but it doesn’t work. Can the members here give their thoughts/opinions on the matter?

How old is his son? He’s a kid, so it’s not gonna kill him. It’s better then doing nothing.

Just give him a better idea of what to do if you want to help him out.

It worked for Bruny Surin, and Dallas Robinson (drob9 on this forum) ran some rather quick indoor times while training on a high speed treadmill.

i wouldnt think that the high speed treadmill contributed much to dallas or bruny surin’s speed. I have seen some of the facilities that are offering these sessions, they seem to be popping up all over. I know i wouldnt put an athlete on one. I dont see Bolt running on them, or any of the other top sprinters. Better to be safe than sorry

I’ve seen them with safety harnesses attached to the roof which doesn’t allow you to down and be thrown off the back. You could end up having your legs scraped up as the treadmill whirs by.

I’m not an advocate of treadmill running either, but if Surin (who I would consider a “top sprinter”) can run 9.84 after having done at least one treadmill session a week throughout all of his GPP and half of his SPP it can’t be too harmful for your speed development. The best three male sprinters of all time don’t seem to be doing heavy squats as part of their training, does that mean Charlie was wrong in having his athletes do them?

I was unaware that bruny surin ran at least one treadmill session a week. That is interesting. And I agree with your point about heavy squats. However I would rather not include something in the training in developing athletes that " cant be too harmful." I think it is better spent focusing on other training elements. As well as i dont understand the copnnection between the running mechanics on ground and treadmill. My thinking was that they are pretty different in the ground contact. I believe that you should not attempt to do speed training on something other than the surface what you will be running on. Furthermore, the majority of facilities who uitilize these methods tend not to have the best coaching.

Also this goes back to the arguement of what is responsible for incrased stride frequency. is it the hips or the ability to transfer the force through the ground. Charlie has said that most people have the ability to cycle their legs close to the speeds of top sprinters, so long as there is no resistance (ground).
Training on a treadmill to my knowledge tries to train the frequency with respect to the hips. When the ground is moving udnerneath an athlete there is no transfer to running on the ground because there would be no training of the power involved at ground contact.

Im sure this might not be to clear but i tried to get it out of my cluttered head.

You are still resisting gravity on a treadmill and you most definitely do have to do work and produce force @ ground contact–I don’t see how that is a hard concept. As far as any ‘lack’ of transfer–there are countless examples of mid distance and longer distance athletes with Olympic and WC medals in colder climates that did most of their training almost exclusively on treadmills during the winter months and other times of inclement weather.

from Charlies earlier comments on this subject. I trust him on the subject.

"Exactly! High-speed treadmill running is a recipe for disaster. Remember sprinting relies on the generation of “negative foot speed” (Your foot must be moving backwards faster than the ground is moving backwards under you or you can’t impart acceleration . In sprinting, you’re either accelerating or decelerating, so you have, at most, one step as you reach the “crest” before you drop off. If you impart neg foot speed on a treadmill, you’ll go off the front! If you don’t, you’re just along for the ride.
The best thing you can do with a high-speed treadmill? Unplug it!
(If you own one- see if you can sell it to Harvard!) "

I have trained on one of those treadmills. I followed their program and did exactly as they told me… I actually got a little slower. So i wouldn’t reccommend them at all.

Specifically, I have a question for you guys. I wondered if high speed treadmills could be used effectively if an athlete ran at top speed or near top speed for as long as possible? Would this train top end speed endurance?

Running on a track cannot simulate this because the athlete will just slow down when they tire. A treadmill can essentially keep the runner moving at the same rate.

Thoughts? Do you think they can be effective?

In my opinion the only gain in speed endurance would be specific to the treadmill. Speed endurance is a very specific quality and must be trained accordingly. I guess i just dont see the relationship. The race is on a track and dont see how specific running on a treadmill is.

Also whether on a track or treadmill, the athlete will get tired and will have to slow down. Dont see how it would work.

I know there is force that is being produced but how much and how specific to actual running. Just because those athletes did it in cold climates doesnt mean they would have if it were warmer.




to add


These kids are running at speed much higher than they are truly capable of. This stuff is just a joke to me.

the trainers quotes from youtube:

"The high speed treadmill provides overspeed training. The key is the unweighting device. Without it, the hi-speed treadmill is basically worthless. The unweighting device allows us to obtain neurological adaptations safely. It works in two ways. First, because it is safe for the athlete, it removes CNS guarding so the athlete can go all out without fear. Second, because the athlete is unweighted 30% of his body weight, he does not have to put as much force down.

When unweighted the athlete does not have to put as much force into the deck to propel himself up and forward. Less force needed means his foot does not have to be on the deck as long which means he can increase his rate of turnover. Basically, the brain says “Oh, I can run faster than I thought!” When the athlete gets to a whole new level, we begin to slowly reweight him and he is able to keep much of the gain. We use it to train proprioception and body awareness

First, the vest keeps them safe so they cannot fall. This removes “CNS guarding.” Basically, we all have a sense of self-preservation so you cannot go all out if you are afraid you are going to fall. With the vest, you can go all out. Second, the vest is lifting them up to 30% of their body weight. This means they do not have to put as much force into the deck so the foot does not have to stay on the deck as long so you increase the rate of turnover

I don’t agree with overspeed treadmills, but to dismiss treadmills altogether when they are useful tools is not prudent. Plenty of people with extremely high levels of success in virtually all events have used them to some degree.

Also, you most definitely could run faster on a treadmill no matter it being overspeed or otherwise simply because you are not subjected to the same degree of air resistance. Check out the Woodway Curve for an example of how a treadmill could be designed to work well.

but until I see someone like Usain Bolt use one, count me out. If you lived in a polar region, I could excuse it. It makes no sense if you can run on a surface, not a moving belt. I don’t summarily dismiss anything, but I have seen lots of trashed athletes using any number of over speed methods. ESTI, number 3 clip is awesome. Perhaps the coach should hop on it for a half hour?

Usain Bolt doesn’t do Olympic lifts, deep squats, deadlifts, CFTS, or a lot of other things either. That doesn’t make them invalid. He ran sub 20 at 17, so using him as the primary justification of your training program is borderline insanity.

There are plenty of elites that used treadmills to a very significant degree for low intensity work and even up to moderate intensities if running the 400m or longer.

Your comment is silly, you will never coach a Usain Bolt in your lifetime so don’t use him as an example. I completed the FAST program and found the high speed treadmills to be useful, didn’t have any injuries etc.

stick by Charlie on this one. Sorry guys, the science doesn’t support it. It’s your choice to use it or not. To each his own. I think it is a bad idea and would never allow one of my athletes to use it. Come on guy’s, if you can’t understand a joke about Bolt, jeez. Hopefully you have a better constructed attack on me than that. I happen to have a different paradigm when it comes to my methods. Not saying they are the best, but they are what I find best for my style of coaching. I will say this, you guys will find an underwhelming amount of support by many members on this forum who no much more than we do.