The classics

I have not been on the forum for a very long time. A few months ago I discovered it and after browsing around for a while I realized that it was full of information and people who were truly enthusiastic about track. I bought Speed Trap and CFTS and read them both in a few days. They gave me most of the information I’ll ever want or need to know, but the forum is a great place for getting those little ideas to add or subtract from already solid programs. So I went into the threads that I had missed before I discovered the site, printed them out and read them like minibooks. I’m going to give a list here of the threads that helped to give me a better understanding of Charlie’s ideas and/or gave me little tidbits of information that I have incorporated into my program. I haven’t read some of these threads in a while and I may have forgotten useful information or used it in my program and then forgot where I got it from. My purpose in starting this thread is so that it can act as a guide to anybody new to the forum and so that I can get feedback on what other people thought were good threads and see what I missed. I’m sure there were a lot of them. I also hope I’ll remember a few things along the way that I’ve forgotten since reading the threads. If you want to add something to the list, give a link if you can because the search engine on the old forum can be a little unpredictable. Wow, that was wordy, sorry. Anyway:

30-60m acceleration:
Main ideas:
Cue ONLY when it is really needed
As much as tempo helps form the best technical work is high intensity work
For training 30-60m fly-ins are very effective. If you get gradually faster and faster up to say 20, 30, or 40 but concentrate on nothing but relaxation the relaxation will carry over to when you floor it. Trying to run the fastest 30m or so possible is pointless, the point of acceleration is to get to a high top speed and maintain that for a long time, not to be fast itself. Ktolbert said this in the first page, and everybody seemed to pretty much agree with this afterwards.
NOTE: These are little out of order, but I’m pretty much going from the posts I read first, and therefore least remember to the ones I’ve read most recently. So, I’m trying to skim through the posts to refresh myself on the main points. That one wasn’t too bad, but bear with me, especially on the next few. I encourage anybody who hasn’t read the threads to read them, not just the cliff notes.

Starts and Acceleration:
Main ideas:
Charlie said this as the first reply:
I’d concentrate on technique first, as you are already strong enough to have good top speed. Perhaps you are trying to get upright too soon to get into the position you feel comfortable with.
This sounds like it is pretty much what it comes down to; strength and technique. Dcw mentioned falling starts, which I personally love. I also like starts from lying on the ground which Charlie talked about in I think Speed Trap. The common starting flaws that Charlie and dmhansen gave were great:
1: looking up too soon causing the torso to rise and the hips to drop
2: overstriding on the initial steps
3: using a set position that puts the hip behind the front foot


  • Lag in the arm drive off the start (arms seem to drag out, rather than initiate).
  • Pushing too hard off the blocks (i.e. jumping) without having the strength to hold the position achieved from this type of start. Obviously, a lot of people were/are trying to copy Ben, but don’t have the tools to execute it properly.
  • Hip height that is too low or too high in the set position.

The things I try to think about when starting are to flick the wrist on the front leg side as if trying to catch a butterfly at the start and to get violent with the arms. Not listening for the sound of the gun, but concentrating on the movement of the hand is good. The stronger you get, the lower you can put your hips and ditto for widening your hands. I don’t tuck my chin in I just try to keep it aligned with my spine. By the way, I’ve got a question for the forum. When you’ve reached top speed and are fully upright should you be looking fairly far ahead on the ground? I know different runners prefer different head positions up to top speed, but once you get there it seems it would make sense for everyone to have their head looking at pretty much the same thing.
I also liked what THEONE asked in the second section and Charlie’s response. THEONE asked whether to focus on enhancing strengths or curing weaknesses. Charlie said, “It’s OK to cure your weakness as long as it doesn’t harm your strength-ie gaining too much weight [for a tall sprinter trying to catch up in strength for increased starting ability].
So:accelerations, weights, and explosive med ball throws are the best way to increase starting ability. I liked what I read on the new forum the other day about explosive squat throws into a high jump pit. Starts themselves onto a high jump mat were also mentioned in the thread for max extension. Another thing to try.

Favorite plyo/jump exercises for improvement of acceleration.
Main points:
Plyos are general strength training!
Boundings & single leg hops help improve acceleration and hurdle hops and hops from a height are better for maximum speed, but stay below 30 inches. A good volume for the heavy stuff is 30-40.
Plyos can be helpful if used at the right times, but are not essential to a program. The right time is when a new stimulus desperately needs to be introduced, although special tools like plyos are not usually needed during a small plateau. Most things sprinters do, like sprinting, can be considered plyometrics but hurdle hops, depth jumps, bounding, hopping, etc. is what is being talked about.
Box jumps are good.

Carbs, what types?:
Main points:
John Berardi has good ideas, but they are not all that realistic and are by no means the only way to get lean.
Fruit is great. Try to eat all different colors of the rainbow. I personally think, though there is some debate over this that healthy grains are very good. Besides that:oatmeal, all bran cereals, vegetables, muselix, white pasta, flax bread, and yams are pretty much the good stuff.
Try to go for unprocessed stuff as much as possible, period.

Hypertrophy and strength gains:
Main points:
Strength gains will slow down with time, but we all already know this.
Differnet deadlifts variations (sumo, conventional, snatch grip, Romanian, etc.) are all good.

Triple Extension, drive phase, and acceleration:
Main points:
Again, for start strength and technique are what to focus on.
One legged weighted squats are an interesting exercise to consider. I know a lot of people on the forum use them. I personally haven’t tried the, but skimming this over again, I think I will.
Strength along with flexibility, muscle status, relaxation, and technique make you fast.
Erector spinae strength is very important fast and slow-twitch wise.
Charlie says, “Most start problems are correctable, regardless of strength levels, by adjusting the start position to reflect current strength levels rather than to establish one final position and wait for strength to catch up. This is not only possible, but necessary, as the start affects the smooth execution of the whole race. When strength is lacking the COM should be raised as much as possible in the set position by insuring that the arms drop straight down from the shoulders to the line (in both planes), that the hips are as high as possible while still maintaining enough bend at the back leg to ensure force on the back block, and a position close enough to the line that the athlete will automatically raise his COM as fast as is necessary. The start can be re-adjusted in lock-step with strength improvements (the needed changes, while effective, won’t be huge).”
Make the start simple. Just concentrate on the wrist flick, the rest will take care of itself.
Sprinters and sprint coaches like philosophy.
Good form is what works for you.
I liked the statement, “The torso must raise the head.” And “let the torso unfold”

Muscular Mechanics from a Sprinting Perspective:

Go to the site and read noendurance’s post that starts the thread.
This is a very important concept for sprinting:
While sprinting at a high level can do much to develop the appropriate muscles, first you have to develop the muscles to the point, and in the way, that will allow adequate speed to be carried out (another chicken and egg deal). You need to have an adequate hypertrophy phase- though the form that will take is highly individual- but once musculature and speed are falling into place, I’d say that the sprinting leads the weights.
I also like what Charlie says about the “scientific limit” of times always changing, especially with Dwain Chambers talking about the limits of the human body. I’m going to ask about that sometime soon in that thread.
Science is good, but most of the time it follows coaches.
Muscle biopsies are sort of ridiculous. Performance is what matters.

Stretching and Massage:
Welcome to Recovery and Regeneration:
Main points:
Hydrotherapy is good.
Biofoam rollers are good if used not that often. I’m going to try to order them soon. I didn’t pay too much attention to the massage stuff since I’m not going to have a massage therapist for a long long time.
Contrast showers are great. After reading the recovery threads I decided I would make myself follow this recovery routine:
One CNS day:Ice bath
One tempo day:Hot shower
Next CNS day:Contrast shower (3 min. hot, 1 cold, 3 hot, 1 cold)
Next tempo day:Hot bath
And also try to get the stick and biofoam rollers and start using them on occasion. This is not very elaborate, but I don’t have access to a steamroom, whirlpool, or sauna on tempo days.
I might get the Trigger Point Therapy workbook in time. Has anybody tried the Trigger Wheel that’s sold at
Over the summer I’m going to use the 10*100 PU and SU workout detailed in Welcome to Recovery and Regeneration.

Olympic Lifts and Other movements:
Main points:
If you’re going to do assistance excercises a la Westside by doing a few sets with higher reps than your strength moves to near failure use a movement that recruits as many motor units as possible, but does not drain your CNS. i.e. leg extensions and leg curls will throw off recruitment patterns by making them perform by themselves, but personally I’ve found doing something like weighted hypers, where the entire lower part of the posterior chain is lifting and the arms, back, abs, and shoulders and chest are holding the weight isometrically, doing 4 sets of around 10 to near failure is almost physically impossible and will make me feel very dizzy and drain me for days. Personally, if I’m doing assistance exercises for hypertrophy and additional posterior chain strengthening I find most of the exercises Westside suggests are good i.e. dimel deadlifts (drop 30 percent of 1RM max to below the knees and pull back up really fast) and pull-throughs. Of course if you have access GHRs and reverse hypers are also great.
This is an important point by Pioneer:
“The power outputs in the classic or the power versions of the Olympic lifts (power cleans and power snatches) is said to be highest in a range between 75% and 90%. One of the main reasons the power output is higher with a relatively higher intensity is because even in a heavy Olympic lift the speed drops off very little.”
I also agree with Clemson and I think most people on the forum that max testing and maxing is not necessary and is dangerous for sprinters.
In the first section Chris Thibaudeau’s ascending-descending training approach is worth looking at, but is probably too much after sprinting. However, if one offseason day I really don’t feel like sprinting and want to get a little crazy I might try it.
Clemson says something in this thread that I really like, “Don’t train to train.” He is talking about how things beneficial to athletes, like deads and med ball throws can at the same time be teaching athletes how to clean.
Everybody agrees with Chris Thibaudeau that athletes besides Olympic lifters should not learn the full Olympic lifts and that it is actually more beneficial for them to do the power versions and that they should be done from the hang most of the time. He also said something that I found interesting on his forum the other day about the O lifts. In squat cleans, the bar needs to be pulled to just above the wait, in squat snatches to the sternum, but in power cleans the bar needs to be pulled to the sternum and in power snatches the bar needs to be pulled to the eyes. That was a grammatical nightmare.
Part of the draw of O lifts is that, while all weight training is general, the power gained in the O lifts is more easily transferable to sport than most lifts.
In section three Chris T’s continuum is interesting.
The importance of hip flexors is debated here and has been debated a few other places on the forum. The general consensus seems to be that through weight training and sprinting it receives enough work.
“A tight psoas from sprinting and lifting is many times the culprit. Stretch that out and watch your athlete fly.”
Reinforcement of the idea, sprinting is the only thing specific to sprinting.

Greek Sprint Training:
Main points:
There are many ways to skin a cat and the Greeks seem to have a program many of us would consider crazy. It seems to be a sink or swim system started from a pretty early age. If you really want to spice things up one off season this might give you an idea or two, but it seems unlikely anyone on the forum could see good results with this program, at least not for a long time, as laid out.

Weight Increases:
Main points:
Everybody uses different systems in the gym. The important thing to understand is that the better your sprint session the weaker you will be in the gym.
Cool’s program sounds good.
I think most people agree that added strength will greatly help acceleration, which will make for a higher top speed and make you faster.
Clemson’s big post at the end of the 2nd section is great. I think after reading it a few times I really understand it. When a stimulus gets stale, strength is there just not expressing itself. If you change the stimulus for a little with something else intense, it will express itself again when you come back to it. Sorry, just read his post.

Ols & alternatives for improving RFD (part II):
Main points:
Read Charlie’s 2nd post in the read. “I believe that synergy moves in both directions on the force time curve…when trained in conjunction with others (Vertical integration) as opposed to serially, and, as the greatest beneficiary components will be at the slow end. The implication for top sprinters is:
1.Lifting improvements will advance at a rate and to a level that initially appears to be out of all proportion to the emphasis placed there.
2.The proportionately greater contribution of high velocity components to improvement indicates that they should be in place as soon as possible. These comments only apply to higher level athletes who already have sufficient general development.”
The faster you go, the more the weights follow you.

H SI stuff (there’s no space, but I can’t type H SI as one word in my dumb Word or it turns it to HIS):
Main points:
All top sprinters are extremely strong.
Cooldowns are important, walk a lap like the horses.
I liked that reaction time drill with the key. “Drop a key at sprinters shoulder while sprinter is in normal start position. Key should be dropped toward the hand which would come out first from the blocks.”
At the end, this turned into the precursor to the Greek sprint training thread.

Eccentric Training:
Main points:
After reading this, the benefits of 120-150% eccentric training didn’t make it seem like it was worth the risk.

Energy Envelope and Organism Strength, The Shift Paradox, Central Drive, and The Specificity Spectrum:
Main Points:
I think these were an attempt to discover why Charlie’s method of high/low intensity (75%-/95%+) works so well. Clemson sums it up very well in his first page on the Shift Paradox so read that.
The Specificity Spectrum showed how the high/low concept was starting to catch on all over the place. Swimming and distance running were the two major examples.

Biomechanics and Physiology of Sprinting:
Main Points:
I didn’t get through this entire thread. I’m on Section 12 out of 18. I didn’t completely understand a lot of it, and I think that’s OK, because it cannot be converted to practical training theory anyway. Thus far, this is what I’ve gotten from the thread:
The power of the foot is much less than that of the hip, but since power of the hip has to be expressed through the power of the foot, development of the foot must occur in lockstep with development of the hip. Along with towel clenching, barefoot runs, EMS, and sprinting, does anyone know of any good ways to develop the foot? I can’t run barefoot right now because I live in the Northeast.
Dorsiflexion happens naturally, don’t try to train it.

Stepping Over:
Main Points:
I didn’t get through all of this either, because it seemed to be turning into Biomechanics and Physiology of Sprinting part II and because I lost the sheets it was printed out on. But, I think that most people agreed that stepping over is an effective cue after you’ve gotten violent with your arms and are a little into the race.

Warm Up and Dynamic Flexibility:
Main Points:
Static stretching is harmful to strength levels right before running. The time before the negative effects go away is debateable.
Everybody seemed to like: jogging a little, bodyweight exercises, drills, and dynamic stretching before sprinting.

Hypertrophy for later strength gains:
Main points:
Everybody needs to find their own rep range for hypertrophy because everyone is made up differently.
Conversion from IIb muscle fibers to IIa is important to consider in training, but for sprinters tapers, not staying in max strength phases for large amounts of time, and taking unload weeks will take care of conversion back to IIb. And no matter how much IIb fiber you have, if its “dead” it won’t help you. My question to the forum is: what are ways to reactivate “dead” fibers besides massage? Can increasing circulation do this?
I found this interesting:
I hope I don’t get on the slippery slope of offering rules and routines for lifting. Everything must be predicated on the primary goal- MORE SPEED. As far as cross-sectional lifting goes- we often lifted in the 10rep range (based on the strength endurance qualities the athletes already posessed) though there was much less cross section work as the years went by as the desired cross section was already in place. As for lifting highs, Ben squated to parallel 2x6x600, Desai and Mark both did 2x6x525. Mark was also a proficient cleaner, with a best of over 335 later in his career. In the bench, Mark did 365, Desai did 385, but Ben did 4x5x405, with a double at approx 450 just before Seoul ( this was due to a miscalculation of the Olympic plates- intended, 6 plates at 20kg+ 2 plates at 10kg- actual 6 plates at 25kg + 2 plates at 12.5 kg + end clips). PLEASE remember that the weight programs progressed upwards over many years and the weight program never interfered with the speed work. If it came to a choice, speed work always won out.
Proper periodization has more and more of an important role. Right now, since I’m just a youngin and not running all that fast its not as important to me as someone more advanced.

Well, that’s it. If you have a thread that helped you understand things better, please post. Also, I probably missed and misunderstood a lot of important things in these posts so feel free to correct and debate.

Great job, pete!:clap:

[i]Carbs, what types?:
Main points:
John Berardi has good ideas, but they are not all that realistic and are by no means the only way to get lean.
Fruit is great. Try to eat all different colors of the rainbow.

One of my favorite foods are Fruity Pebbles, so I guess I’m on the right track!:smiley:


The things I try to think about when starting are to flick the wrist on the hand opposite the front leg at the start and to get violent with the arms.

Shouldn’t you be focussing on the arm on the same side as your front leg? I may have misunderstood but wouldn’t the hand opposite the front leg would be the hand on the side of the back leg?

  • Lag in the arm drive off the start (arms seem to drag out, rather than initiate).

Having thought a lot about this, I think it comes from an emphasis on pushing with the back leg. i.e., If the back leg is pushed first, or even worse, is not stable, the lead arm will go momentarily backwards and then forwards through necessity. I think the back leg should be “loaded” into the back block, rather than rested. The loaded back leg will allow the lead arm to go upwards with no delay.

By the way, I’ve got a question for the forum. When you’ve reached top speed and are fully upright should you be looking fairly far ahead on the ground?

I think the gaze should still be slightly down, maybe ten metres ahead to make sure that the head doesn’t fall backwards and to make sure that the focus doesn’t move to the finish which could cause the athlete to tighten up by rushing to get there.

Overall, some great extracts there. Bloody terrific post!!! :slight_smile:

Great Post, Pete! I’m sure it’ll become the first reference point to all new visitors to the forum. :clap:

Great work assembling these posts, Pete! I hope everyone will read this section as it is essential in understanding the differences in training approaches between coaches, and understanding my philosophy.


nice job pete!

Originally posted by dcw23

[quote]The things I try to think about when starting are to flick the wrist on the hand opposite the front leg at the start and to get violent with the arms.

Shouldn’t you be focussing on the arm on the same side as your front leg? I may have misunderstood but wouldn’t the hand opposite the front leg would be the hand on the side of the back leg?

I don’t do too much full start work because I have problems when I do. My understanding from people on the forum is that if you flick your wrist backward your front arm will automatically drive forward with your COM being pushed by the front leg. The back leg will come to the rescue and if you continue pumping your arms you will have a good start. This seems to pretty much work for me when I do full starts, but I stumble a lot. I think this is a good thing, because I’m driving out powerfully as a result of the flick.
Right now I’m personally trying to do a lot of falling, lying down, or standing starts to make starting more comfortable and also trying to raise my power levels. Otherwise I think I would be teaching myself its bad to drive out powerfully. But that is besides the point, the flick seems to be doing its job by causing a chain reaction that pushes me out powerfully. I wish I were more succinct.
Thanks for your reply about the gaze. I think that makes perfect sense. And thank you all for the kind words and clapping smileyfaces.:slight_smile:



I personal found it a bit daunting to ask questions and especially reply to them in old forum.

I’ve read it once, I’m going to have to read it again.

Will now be improtant for me to understand as I have 3 weeks left of my hammer throwing career, and I’m going to have a go at sprinting.

Originally posted by pete
My understanding from people on the forum is that if you flick your wrist backward your front arm will automatically drive forward with your COM being pushed by the front leg. The back leg will come to the rescue and if you continue pumping your arms you will have a good start. This seems to pretty much work for me when I do full starts, but I stumble a lot.

The reason you stumble a lot is because you are focussing on flicking the back arm. The focus should be on the front arm when you start. Starting with a back arm flick will drive your head into the ground and hence cause you to stumble!

When you say problems from doing full starts, what sort of problems are you getting? Hamstring pain? Tendon above the knee? The sort of start you describe could cause this because you will stumble and catch yourself with your hamstring and pull yourself forward.

I didn’t mean pain or anything, just stumbling. I figured as the power came it would stop, but I guess I was just starting wrong. So now I’ll concentrate on just driving the front arm forward as hard as possible and then trying to “get violent” with the arms. Thanks a lot, this will probably make my outdoor season a lot more succesful.


"…because as Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian puts it, “Speed is the one thing you can’t coach.”

Statements like that bother me. I mean, if that is true, we might as well shut down this site…mikeh

this was my favorite moment from the old site. definatley a classic, taken from the “history of the 40 yrd dash” thread. complete thread here

I hope everybody’s going to read through Pete’s classics!

This is just an update on personal progress. I did my speed session yesterday and just concentrating on flicking the arm up on the side of my front leg helped a lot! I really think that now I’m starting pretty well. I’m sorry if I confused anyone with my post. I’m going to edit it. Dcw, thanks so much for helping me out with that.

Pete, now you owe me big time :slight_smile:

How about some more Classics posts like this one. That would a great reward for everyone!

Let’s get everyone involved in reading the links provided here. It should move the discussions forward!


there was a thread dedicated to Greek Sprint Training, aptly entitled “Greek Sprint Training”!

Pete’s post made me go through some of my notes that I made when I purchased Training for Speed (Australian Edition) 3 or so years ago

I have dragged out my notes on this and in no context or order have hopefully shown below.

Pickings from Training for Speed - Australian Version

Stamina should be emphasised
 It is sound logic to develop a strong cardio system and improve capillarisation of the muscles to prevent injury.
 It is also logical to try for improvement first in the area where it can be obtained most easily.
 “See Tempo Training”
 A sprinter must have full control of his body and should handle his body-weight easily. Helpful exercise include sit ups, burpees, knee bends and chin Ups
 These can be combined into a circuit
Speed Development

  1. Emphasis on Quality
  2. Full or near full effort - over short distances (30-60m)
  3. Each sprint session must be followed by complete recovery
  4. When the quality of the runs deteriorates speed work must cease.
    Sample Distance x Effort x Reps
    Distance Effort Reps
    30 Full 6-8
    50 Full 5-6
    60 Full 4-6
    80 Near Full 3-4

 Watch for face & shoulder relaxation in combination with correct arm action.
 Limit speed work to 2 a week and never 2 days in a row
Tempo Training
 Distances range 100-400m, Intensity is 65-75% of max. velocity. Total Distance 2000-2400m

  1. Tempo work done at least 3 times per week
  2. Emphasis on Quantity
  3. Smooth running is reinforced
  4. For younger athletes, single repetitions distances should be kept below 200m
  5. A wide variety of exercises should be used
    Special Endurance
  6. Fast work simulating competition speeds over distance of 150-300m develops endurance at speed.
  7. The usual number of reps is 2
  8. The distance covered in special endurance work should reduce as the date of competition approaches. In the 2 weeks prior to major competition only 1 rep should be done.
  9. Special endurance work should be done once a week
    Repetitions are the key factor
     Loads that permit a high number of reps (>8) will result in cross section gains in muscle
     Loads that permit small number of reps (2-5) challenge the CNS and are accompanied by gains in power with little change to muscle cross-section.
    Maximum Strength Phases
     7 to 9 weeks
     Bench Press & Squats - 3 to 5 reps
     Power Cleans - 5 to 10 reps
    Speed Endurance
     Maximum speed can be maintained (or reached) around 6 seconds
     To train for maximum speed of 100m, it is necessary to train for speed endurance. This is typified by 60-120m runs. Therefore, sprints beyond 6 seconds can be classified as speed endurance.
     Speed Endurance is prescribed very carefully (once a week) as the CNS is fatigued significantly and recovery may take 2 to 4 days
    The main requirement of the 100m are acceleration, speed and speed endurance
     Start/Acceleration 0-30m
     Speed or Max. Velocity 30-60m
     Speed Endurance 60-120m

Wow, great post DMA!