Specificity of training stimulus

I have made an interesting observation when analysing my current and past training journals, which I thought I’d share here to see if others have had similar experiences.

I like to time my runs in training using video footage. When I time a run from a standing start I start the timer on the first foot contact. When I time a block start I time from when the hand of the lead arm loses contact with the track.

At a time in the past when I was performing well in competitions, the difference between the two has been around 0.40s (I.e. 6.70s over 60m from first foot contact with a standing start corresponds to 7.10 from first hand movement with a block start, which, in turn, corresponds to about 7.20 FAT in competition).

These correlations come from a period when I was regularly doing workouts including sprints of 60m or more from blocks.

Recently, I have done very little work from blocks, and have done most of my training runs from a standing start (as I’ve been focussing more on the LJ). I ran 6.77 from first contact in training recently and have consistently been in the 6.8s range. Based on the above correlations, I should thus be able to run around 7.30 or faster in a 60m race. However, my last two races were 7.49 and 7.56 under good conditions. :frowning:

When looking back at past training logs I found that this mismatch between standing start and block start times was also present when I had done little block work for a while about two years ago. Similarly to what I’m observing now, the difference between the two was about 0.65s back then, instead of 0.40s.

To summarise, it seems I miss out on about 0.25s in a 60m race compared to what I should be capable of if I do the bulk of my training from a standing start rather than a block start.

The difference seems to be in the maxV section of the race, btw. If I don’t do runs of at least 60m from blocks in training on a regular basis, I’m not able accelerate to a decent maxV from blocks. This makes little sense to me, as the difference between the two types of start should be minimal after the first few steps.

Has anyone else experienced anything similar?

first step from a standing start is used as its consistant as what cf would say. from a normal bullet/block start your not taking into consideration gun=reaction time etc and FAT timing is from the gun. handtiming should only be used as a reference but the gap from FAT to HT is considerable and with an untrained timer it can be huge

If it’s true that the difference is maxV, then I suspect your acceleration/drive phase mechanics are different out of blocks, and once you get into that acceleration position, you get “stuck,” per se. With the U18, U20 athletes I work with most of them can hit a higher maxV in a flying run than they can out of blocks. People tend to be more relaxed starting from stand and have more efficient acceleration, and in my experience (never with elite sprinters though), it takes a lot of training for them to have their block start accelerations become as good as their falling start accelerations.

Everything is due to insufficient power outputs.
Youngsters are not able (at least majority) to accelerate efficiently out of blocks. Shin angle, CM, torso angle, etc… changing much more rapidly during acceleration when you are starting from blocks than from rolling start or falling start due to massive differences in the whole body position. Therefore the acceleration can be smoother consequently they will be reaching higher speed.

Well stated Wermouth, to add to what Wermouth stated Robin1, keep in mind what PJ Vazel has noted about the holistic process of achieving the upright sprint position being a product of the smoothest transition from the set position to the full upright one.

There are many more physics implications when starting from the blocks versus a standing start. The standing start allows you start in a position much closer to the one you’ll end up in at max V thus the process of transitioning from the standing/rolling/flying start to max V is much smoother.

while an abundance of block start practice is entirely unessential (as Charlie showed) a certain volume of low/3pt/pushup starts are vital in order to establish the acceleration qualities from that low position such that the transition to block work is a natural one and thereby minimizes the volume of block start practice.

Thanks everyone for your replies. I agree that the issue must relate to inefficient acceleration mechanics in the absence of sufficient block work. I would have thought that being rather powerfull (3x bodyweight deadlift) and a good starter and having engaged in sprint training for about 15 years the patterns should be sufficiently ingrained to be accessible without a lot of block work. This notion seems to be mistaken, however, and it appears I have to re-learn how to accerelate from blocks every season.

A great example of another one of Charlie’s golden statements “being fast will make you strong, but being strong will not make you fast”. Granted Robin, you have respectable speed for sure, however, your plight is representative of improper preparation by way of an absence of what is always, without exception, most important for a sprinter- sprint training.

Even if we isolate the 60m indoor event, the structure of the event in its parts are the same parts as the 100m, minus the speed endurance. Thus, block starts, acceleration, and max V are irrefutably essential. The caveat, as I stated already, however, is that one is able to delay actual practice in the blocks to just a few weeks prior to the first meet provided an assembly of low starts/3pt/4pt/pushup/med ball accels are part of the GPP.

I totally agree.

Having good DL (3xBW) is not a reflection of good power output, it’s mean that you are strong but not necessarily powerful.
Through out my observation and research I can say that tests such as standing long jump, bounding for distance from standing position for 3 or 5, shot throws 4/7kg BLF &OHB are good indication of power levels/outputs.
RFD exercises must be carried out through out the whole season to allow us to maximise the opportunity to go faster.

I agree regarding the deadlift Wermouth, in addition, however, is the fact that jumps and throws are not particularly useful indicators of power either as both are not functions of time nor measured according to rate; whereas power, by definition, is (P=W/T). Thus, short of having accelerometers attached to the sprinter, the age old method of timing a sprint is the one and only 100% reliable means of demonstrating preparatory success (particularly if its fully automatic).

Even those who possess a religious affinity for Olympic weight lifts, for reasons rooted in power development, are mislead if they are not monitoring joules/sec -wattage. Two 80kg sprinters are not equally powerful if they both power clean 140kg. The one who generates the most wattage during the pull is the most powerful and even then we do not have a direct transfer to the kinetics of sprinting.

This is all stated in order to highlight the importance of the proper terminology. For if we are to discuss power, we must necessarily discuss work (force acting on an object to cause displacement) performed per unit of time


They are pretty good tests, of course if you have even better tool than accelerometer such as tensometric platform you can measure all day long. Talking about more reasonable options
Once you have done the tests you can see where you are and you can most importantly evaluate your situation.
Or you can use different approaches/formulas:
Sayers regression equestion
for Peak Power (W)= (60.7 x vertical jump [cm]) + (45.3 x body mass [kg])-2055
(for male) Power (W)= (16.56 x distance jumped [cm])- 2223.79
Abalakov test.

Anyway, those tests are pretty good indication of what good power output (distance jumped) for sprinter should be.
Distance jumped have strong correlation with the results in sprints, jumps and throws. Not talking here from readings that I have done but research that I conducted.

Agreed, I have used power indexes before (jump distances relative to bodymass). Interestingly, however, we also see that the best jumpers, typically in terms of single or multiple response efforts, are not sprinters.

When I state accelerometer, however, I’m referring to what has yet to migrate to sport application yet will (I have a relationship with an engineer/tech company that already makes accelerometers for the weight room- which is where they are least needed in my view). Thus, consider how useful it will be when the sprinter can strap a wrist watch size (or even smaller in the future) accelerometer to their ankle which will provide a host of valuable metrics that are typically unknown.

I must also note, however, where it is useful to make the distinction between what transfers/correlates most closely to the world’s elite versus everyone else. Thus, when I speak/write in principle based off of what we know from physics I’m often referencing the world’s elite. From this we know, and Charlie often sited this fact, that the vast preponderance, if not entirety, of sub 9.8 males and sub 10.8 females performed ‘general’ programs.

Alternatively, a vast array of preparatory approaches (on and off the track) can and will/do/have correlate(d) with improved sprint results of young, developing, junior, less than elite sprinters and athletes in general.

Tom Tellez said many years ago that block clearance and acceleration was 64% of a 100m race (and you reach 90% of MaxV in 4 seconds), and that’s what you are giving up if you just use standing starts and don’t practice accel is it will be done in a race. I start everything in 3 pt–including special endurance, including finish drills and flying sprints–and I find that it takes not a few weeks but 3 workouts to get the block drill back in order. It is the acceleration you have to practice all season.

Well stated, to justify what Tellez stated, as I indicate in my Applied Sprint Training book, the elite sprinters reach 90% of max V at the 30m mark.

That makes me feel pretty good about my power output a few years back as a slow 32 year old.

I am glad to hear that.

anything around 8000/8200 is good.

A person of my weight would need a vertical jump of 115cm (45 inch) to get to 8200, which is not realistic. Kim Collins would need 119cm.

A 130kg shot putter only needs 72cm.

Power output is too dependent on body weight to be a meaningful test for sprinters unless it is used to measure progress over time for the same person.

A world class throwers can get close to 9000W!!!
And as CF said there is a reason as to why they"kill the sprinter" in power related tests or even out of blocks.
The 8000 mark is an amazing score which not many can get, it is not an average one.

True, and no way I’m getting 8000 W either.

The last time I was in decent shape and tested my VJ, I was 32 and had a 33" VJ (so 6860W). Wouldn’t have been able to break 12.0 in the 100 though.


I’m about the size of an NFL running back, a little bigger than Ryan Bailey. I only need 23 inches (60cm) to get to 8200W by that equation, and for me, that’s a warmup. I normally jump onto the vault pit. I think your equation is valuing mass too much. I could get to 9000, while Dwain would be well over 10000.