Transition from Five to Three Steps in Between 110HH...Help!

I put this in the hurdles thread, but I’m also starting a new one to see if I can get more responses.

Alright, this is my first year hurdling and League Finals are coming up next week. At the beginning of the year my coach told me that I needed to become more flexible in order to 3 step in between each hurdle (110 HH). Well now I’ve reached the point where I believe I am flexible enough and have a long enough stride to do the three step. So my question is, how should I go about adjusting to this? Should I lower the second hurdle until I’m comfortable and then raise it up as I get better?

For those who would like to know here are my stats and personal records…

100m 12.65 (HT)
110m HH 19.8 (HT)
300m IH 48.49 (FAT or CAT or whatever its called)

Age - 15
Height - 5’11"
Weight - 151lbs
BF% - 10%

Squat - 220lbs 1RM
Bench - 170lbs 1RM
Power Clean - 155lbs 1RM

So as you can see from the difference in my 100m and 110HH times, my stride and timing are killing me. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Lots of things need to be in place to 3 stride properly. You can lower the hurdles and move them in closer to begin with until you can do this fast. Then, slowly raise them and move them further apart. It is like lifting weights…you have to start where you have to start and you increase the weight as you go along. Can’t be rushed.

Is it true that you need to be flexible in order to 3 step?

To a degree yes. It could just be an athlete specific thing that his coach noticed was lacking. Obviously there is more to it than flexibility.

At age 15 you bench press 170lbs, which is impressive, but there’s a clear disproportion with your lower body. If you want to imporve at hurdles, don’t focus on weight lifting, but on correct sprinting technique first, on quad strength by stairs and boundings second. Weight lifting in order to avoid injuries (for teens i tend to prefer general prep) and really start additional weights when or sprint-hurdle times don’t improve and when your lifting technique is alright.
Flexibility is important, especially joint mobility. Anyway i know decent young hurdlers unable to touch their feet without bending their knees. Also, use different hurdle heigths and intervals until you’re 18-19.
I’m sure you can already do 4 steps (3 strides) between hurdles just correcting your sprint technique (forward lean) and keeping your breath during hurdle clearance. Good luck!

Well the reason that my upper body is much stronger than my lower body is because I had a back injury for a month or so and I could only do excercises where my back was supported. That scratched off most of the good lower body (squats, deads, power cleans, reverse hypers, glute/ham raise) and so I focused on my upper body. However, I do have a good hamstring to quad strength ratio as my leg curl is 160lbs and my leg extension is 200lbs.

In terms of keeping my breath during hurdle clearance, what do you mean by that? Also, you are right about my forward lean, I’m too straight up when I go over the hurdles and so I dont have as much momentum going through to the next one. As far as launching from a far enough distance, I’ve got that covered.

So I’m trying to pinpoint my areas that I could fix to reach the 3 strides. I’ve narrowed it down to the following 1) I’m not leaning forward enough as I go over the hurdle 2) My trail leg doesnt stay under my body enough as I go over the hurdle 3) My first stride upon contact with the ground after clearing the first hurdle is too short because I’m used to keeping a short step for five strides in between hurdles. How would any of you go about working on those three specific areas, and what else might I be doing thats preventing me from three stepping? Thanks for the help

I think one of the most overlooked things is just being aggresive. It’s easy to look at a 42" (or 39") hurdle and think you need to slow down just a bit to get over it, but in some cases that is enough to prevent you from 3-stepping. I can’t touch my toes and I smash almost every hurdle (broken several) but I can easily 3 step a whole race.

At least for me, a forward lean does help to prevent braking at take off and landing. Make sure you are pulling your trail leg through completely so that it is coming down in front of you, not just being put to the side. Then just tell yourself you can do it. As Herb mentioned, move the hurdles in a little bit and practice 3-stepping over several of them. As that becomes easier start to move them closer and closer to the actual distance. If you are able to 3-step hurdles in practice with them 1-2 ft. in, you’ll be able to make it in an actual race as long as you stay aggressive.

The transition for someone of your ability will be simple but it also may take some time. As mentioned in other posts, move the hurdles in and lower them three inches. Leave hurdle one alone but move hurdle two in three of your feet. Move hurdle three in six feet. Do this at 36". Always go full speed or near full speed. Stay aggressive. When this pattern becomes easy – at it might be in the same session – move the hurdles a bit further apart – H2 2 feet, H3 4 feet. If that’s too hard to do without bounding or reaching, go back to a tighter spacing until you can do it while sprinting properly. Sometimes do it at regular height with the tighter spacing. Gradually take it to the point where you’re in just a foot on H2 and two feet on H3. Once you master that, add a couple of more hurdles. If you can handle that spacing in practice, you should be able to do it in meets at regular spacing. Hard to say how many weeks this might take, but I would guess you could do it in less than a month, based on your speed and size. Good luck.

[QUOTE=pierrejean] If you want to imporve at hurdles, don’t focus on weight lifting, but on correct sprinting technique first, on quad strength by stairs and boundings second.UOTE]

Why quad strength and not hams & glutes?

Hams & glute too, but quads will play a major role in the take-off and aggressive pushing before the hurdle clearance. As soon as he will get the right technique/feeling, he will feel his quads working hard while hurdling. That will be the sign that he has a good impusle.
I agree with nnewton123 and speedz about aggressive approach, though aggressive doesn’t mean tense, the most difficult ting is to be “high”, “light” and “aggressive”. Also i recommend to watch top class hurdlers in action or in video, i’m a firm believer in mental vision, and for example you could watch video of Tonie Campbell, an incredible stylist, i could watch him hurdling all day long. I like too Allen Johnson because at 1.78 tall he proves that hurlding is for everyone.

About breathing, i mean don’t breath during hurdle clearance in order to keep your body strong and straight. You can watch too Yordanka Donkova, she was so agressive at take-off that she shouted out at each hurdle (diaphragm moving up violentely and expulsing air, leading to a shout). the role of arm is important, i don’t know if it’s efficient in your technique, but watch too Donkova’s exagerated arm movement in the first steps and between hurdles.

About your questions:
“1) I’m not leaning forward enough as I go over the hurdle”: need to do lot of high knee drills
“2) My trail leg doesnt stay under my body enough as I go over the hurdle”: i think it’s the consequence of your first question. drills, small hurdles (30cm) with different spacing for 1 step between each, performed during strength endurance workouts.
“3) My first stride upon contact with the ground after clearing the first hurdle is too short…”: need to do exercises with 2 contacts between hurdles. That will force your 2nd contact after hurdle clearance to be efficient as it will be the hurdle take-off contact in this special exercise.

Practice, practice, practice…

“quads will play a major role in the take-off and aggressive pushing before the hurdle clearance. As soon as he will get the right technique/feeling, he will feel his quads working hard while hurdling. That will be the sign that he has a good impusle.”

I disagree. First off there is no “pushing” with hurdling. The technique should be as close to regular sprinting as possible. Pushing = increased ground contact time, which is unfavourable.

The feeling of quads working hard is a sign of the athlete being out of shape, or having poor technique over and in between the hurdles. Staying tall is important with regular sprinting, however with a hurdler, the battle is to get tall after each hurdle and before the next. This is tough to do with only 3 strides. The trail leg needs to follow the lead leg as quickly as possible so that the lead leg does not collapse (which if id does collapse, you then have to use quad strength to raise the hight of your hips, which will take time and more energy than it is worth). Marc McKoy was beautiful with satying tall as a hurdler and Allen Johnson wonderfully demonstrates the lead leg followed immediately by the trail leg technique.

Mister C… you must understand that there are 10,500,000 things to think about when you are hurdling. Your coaches job is to make it so that you only have to think of one thing, or nothing at all. The more you think about technique etc, the slower you will run. Keep your hurdling technique as similar to your sprinting terchnique as you possibly can. Remeber K.I.S.S.>>>> Keep It Simple Stupid. Becomming an elite hurdler takes time. You need to go over the hurdles fast. If you are going over them slowly, then you need to lower them and move them closer together until you go fast…then move them further apart, and then higher. The trouble with young hurdlers is that they spend so much time on hurdle technique and fancy drills that they neglect to train like a sprinter. You can have perfect hurdle technique and still be slow. I have seen some reallllly ridiculously fast hack -jobs with hurlding. Bottom line, GO FAST!

No pushing? also i didn’t said “pushing” between hurdles, but at take-off before hurdles. Anyway, i think it’s more a feeling than a technical advice.
I prefer to refer to athletes we all know in order to illustrated what we say. Look at Guy Drut, he was very high on his foot during last contact before hurdle, and performed a “tow” (not sure about the word", very efficient if you compare with his contemporaries Munkelt or C. Foster. His pushing was excellent, and his hurdle clearance was shorter than Foster for example.

I wouldn’t use Mark McKoy as a picture of hurdling technique. I’ just red a 1993 article by Malcolm Arnold saying that MM was still afraid to perform specific hurdles exercises like double steps… I remember vividly a TV interview bakc in 1993, in Lausanne i think, where the commentator asked him an advice for young hurdlers: he said “never start hurdles, that’s my only advice”, the commentator was troubled and harrased him to have a “better” answer, but MM didn’t want to say anything but “dont start it’s too hard”.

I agree that hurdlers should train like sprinters. At a certain level though, improvement in flat speed can disturb hurdle performances because of too much emphasis on frequency or amplitude in improving flat speed. At very high level you have Dan Philibert (13.26) and Monique Tourret (12.56) who were at best able to run 100m in 10.80 and 11.80. So 100 flat speed isn’t a limiting factor in performance, i’m really believe in it. But they reached such a technical level at hurdle that they never ran 100m in competition in order to not disturb their stride length/frequency.

My other post addresses some ways you can get to three strides, but I want to answer these three points you identify.

  1. Lean is misunderstood. You do not want to bend at the waist after takeoff. Your lean is determined AT takeoff – while still on the ground. In other words, you want to run aggressively into the hurdle without straightening up as many beginners do. You’ll learn this as you sprint over lower hurdles. If you try leaning after takeoff, you create all sorts of problems for landing and getaway off the hurdle.
  2. Not sure what you mean by this one, but it sounds as if you may be rushing the trail leg through too early. Trail legs should come through late but fast. I see many beginners start the trail leg too early and nearly two-footing the landing, which really means getting a very short getaway step off the hurdle because the pull through the hurdle was premature. This problem alone would prevent three steps because the getaway step would be a couple of feet short. You might want to have someone mark your landing step and getaway step. I’d have to check, but it probably needs to be at least six feet.
  3. This one relates to the answer for 2. If you move the hurdles closer and only practice three-stepping and then gradually move the hurdles further apart, you will lengthen the step off the hurdle – especially if you do not start the trail leg coming through too soon.

Give it some time and keep working at it, and you will get there eventually. One hurdle at a time. Keep 'em low and close and then progress.

Thanks everyone for the advice. I moved the hurdles in closer by a couple feet in practice the other day and I three stepped pretty easily. My coach also helped me pinpoint my problem, and it was that I wasnt pulling my trail leg all the way through and so that first stride after touchdown was too short to make it to three steps. Well we fixed that and I three stepped with the hurdles at regular height and at the regular distance. This all happened yesterday, and so today I had prelims to qualify for League Finals which are next week.

Well at today’s race I was set on three-stepping through the whole thing (a rather ambitious goal I later learned) and setting a new PR. So by the time we lined up for the blocks I was prepared both mentally and physically. However, some guy false started off the gun and it messed with me mentally which resulted in a slow start off the next gun. Anyways, the race starts and I get outa the blocks a little slow, but I keep my acceleration up through the 1st hurdle and clear it easily. I then proceed to 3 step to hurdle 2 and hurdle 3, and then things get nasty. After I clear hurdle 3 I mess up my first step and I end up four stepping to hurdle 4 and clearing it with horrible form. At this point, I had been even with the leader, but I was soon passed by most of thee pack after my horrible 4 step to hurdle 4. I tried to get back into a rythmn for the three step but I couldnt get it and ended up kicking over hurdles 5 and 6. Then after that I just 5 stepped through the finish and came in 7th of 8.

On the bright side, I set a new PR of 19.38 (CAT). However, I didnt qualify for finals and my season is over :frowning: I’m gonna take a week off, and then start building an aerobic base for football season. Thanks for all the help, and keep the advice coming for three-stepping the whole race. It’ll help a lot when I start hurdling again in November or so.

try 4 steps also,
for frequency and its good for your long hurdles(300m later 400)

if you really want 3 steps, put the hurdles closer. work on frequency.
i dont know your hight but i am small to. i always ran 4 steps until i was 16 or 17. also on HH.

nice is to work with distances of around 15 to 20 foot between hurdles(6-8hurdles).
You have to work for the frequency and that is most important in the hurdles race.
NEVER try to force a 3 step between hurdles. it bad for the rithm, frequency, speed, technique and more.