Resource for periodization of women's hurdles

Can anyone here recommend a good resource that provides a solid background of information involving conditioning for women’s hurdles and periodization of this event?

I have just started working with a high school female hurdler who wants to peak when indoor season begins in November.


In terms of planning in general the Van’04 DVD is very good. However, I too want more information on periodisation for the hurdles as I am unsure how the rhythm element can be varied to achieve a peak.

In general, sticking with the short to long approach, I’d suggest working hurdles early in the year with a higher volume, lower height and closer spacing. The higher volume provides conditioning, while the lower height and tighter spacing allows a slightly lower speed to allow the higher volume but all while maintaining a racing rhythm. You want to target a spacing that is at or faster than the splits used in racing. Probably pulling in each hurdle about 2 to 3 feet for starters. Keep the number of hurdles covered per rep in the 3 to 5 area.

As you progress toward the season, reduce volume, increase height and spacing, but only rarely do race height and spacing, always making sure that the rhythm (split times) are at the racing target time. You also can add more hurdles to a rep (5 to 8) as you decrease the total volume by reducing the number of reps.

As you move to peaking, I’d back off on volume and number of hurdles per rep, just as you would in sprint periodization.

Why? Surely you need to be used to get your body tuned to clearing hurdles at full height. I can understand this more for men’s hurdles than womens though. Any thoughts?

TAF News “The Hurdles” from is a great start.

Are you doing the lifting and energy system development? What are your roles…how many days a week?

I agree with speedz. Go up to regulation spacing and heights very rarely if at all-even for the women though it’s probably not quite as crucial. When they get into races, adrenaline and increased focus(after an effective training program of course) will easily be able to get them over the hurdles with proficiency.

It often takes some convincing of the athlete to train at reduced spacings and heights but it’s worth the effort of setting up such guidelines. Most of the world class programs that I’ve viewed on paper or in talking with their coaches, train in this manner.

Note that I said rarely at regular height and spacing. I think regular height at reduced spacing is fine. Or if you have a good tailwind, go for the regular height and spacing a few times over a few hurdles late in the season.

The reason you don’t want to do that regular height and spacing work is that you end up practicing a tempo/rhythm slower than what you want to develop for racing. You always want to maintain race cadence or faster in doing speed work over hurdles.

For just getting used to height of hurdles, for less experienced athletes, you don’t need to have prescribed spacings or work at high speed. Just set them so the athletes can work at a fast but controlled speed without having to overstride to achieve their stride pattern, which could be a three or five step rhythm. Or even four if you are working on alternating for beginners.

I think Carolinaadi is a strength coach so perhaps we could get into energy system and strength needs?

In addition to what Clemson suggested you may want to locate books or articles by Brent McFarlane. I feel his work is very ideal for developing hurdlers.

Everything that has been said regarding race modeling and hurdle rhythm is correct. In addition, don’t overlook the value of general fitness and/or strength endurance for hurdlers (young and old). I have found some coaches force hurdling on kids before they are strong/fit enough to achieve the desired positions. So spend equal or more time getting them fit and strong.

Hope that helps… :smiley:

Another reason to avoid full height and spacing for hurdles is being able to repeat speeds in training to elicit a positive training response. You want to be able to repeat efforts within a training session that will be race pace or faster. Besides keeping training distances below race distances, you can also achieve similar effects via the reductions mentioned. Difficult to maintain same quality for more than a couple of reps or so due to problems that come about from the effort required to clear hurdles under normal conditions.

I also suggest lower heights and closer distance for practice.
The athlete can become more effficent and have quicker turn over .
This combined with 5 steps between hurdles is amazing.

When bring the hurdles closer I tend to stick with - 1 step per hurdle. ( after fitness is shown)

FYI - I was an athlete of Brent McFarlane 13 years

First all I want to thank everyone here for their input. I have actually been away as I have family down in the Gulf Coast area that was damaged by Katrina.

Back to training now…to answer Clemson’s question, here is what I have available with this athlete:

Mon- speed training (w/ me)
Wed- speed training (w/me)
Friday-every other week speed training (w/me)
Sunday- recovery

I can set the week up however I need to. She wants to be prepared for the start of indoors in November.

Her base level of general conditioning is less than optimal and is a novice in any type of strength training.

She just turned 14 years old and coming off of a slightly pulled hamstring. We are focusing on acceleration mechanics as she has NONE! She is always one of the last out of the blocks but wins the race. In other words, she has extremely long strides and arm mechanics. Or to put it another way, she has an incredible 4th and 5th gear but no 1st or 2nd.

Just trying to figure out how to plan for this young female hurdler. To answer Clemson’s other post, I work with field and court sports in the areas of speed, strength, power, etc… Just have never directly worked in the T&F arena until now. I am looking forward to the challenge!

thanks again!

Working now on her technique -in all aspects- is good; her acceleration among others will improve later on anyway, as her general conditioning and especially her strength levels improve!

I agree. When I first moved from 80m - 100m hurdles, I started training at 100m height and it scared me and I became demotivated because they felt so high and my strides as a result got out and I started stuttering because I can’t lead with both for 4 strides so was trying to make 5. Couple of months later, did an 80m race to find that the striding was stupidly short, I had too much speed and was stuttering because I could only fit 2 strides in beacuse I’d picked up so much speed. If they’d been set for 100m I’d have been fine. When I was doing 80m we used to train low and just do the drills - I have the speed so work on the techqniue and then the package goes together just before the season kicks off.

The same as a sprinter. I have worked with girls running 20 sec and girls running sub 14. No matter how you try to get them to 3 step, speed is what matters most.

While you are training for speed/fitness and strength try this:
24" hurdles @ 6m (always focus on speed and turn over between hurdles)
Progress to
30" hurdles @ 7.5m
30" hurdles @ 7.9-8.2m

Over speed (similar to Charlie’s Easy Fast Easy)
3/5 steps between hurdles (set up below)
5 steps (8m) to 1st hurdle
7.9-8.2m bet hurdles 1-2
11.5m between hurdles 2-3
8.2 between hurdles 3-4-5

same can be done for outdoors but with 12 hurdles. ALWAYS rehearse 8 steps coming out of the blocks every time you do hurdles. CRITICAL.