Usain Bolt has the perfect body shape for sprinting success, researchers find

The secret of how sprinters have been able to get faster and faster over the years has been revealed – the athletes are getting taller and skinner, according to scientists.

While watching the Olympic Games this summer there may be an easy way of spotting those competitors who are destined for success – they will stand head and shoulders above those around them.

Researchers studying elite sportsmen and women claim to have solved the mystery of how sprinters can continue to push the boundaries of human performance to run ever-faster times.

They have found that speeds for running the 100 metres have increased as champion sprinters have become taller and leaner, giving them a competitive edge over other athletes.

It helps to explain why Usain Bolt, the 6ft 5in tall, 12-stone Olympic gold medallist and 100 metre world record holder, has been able to achieve race times far quicker than his rivals.

Carl Lewis, who is 6ft 2in and weighed almost 13 stone, also managed to set world sprinting records during the 1990s, but his body shape is less well adapted than Usain Bolt’s, according to the researchers.

This may explain why the Jamaican sprinter has been able to shave 0.30 seconds off Lewis’s own record.

Britain’s fastest sprinter Linford Christie weighted in at 12 stone and is 6ft 2 inches. His fastest time was also short of Bolts world record.

Professor Alan Neville, a biostatistician in the school of sport at the University of Wolverhampton said tall, thin athletes may have an edge because they are better at dissipating heat from their bodies due to greater skin surface area, which allows their muscles to work harder for longer. They also have greater stride length, he added.

He said: "There is very strong evidence that taller, more linear individuals are becoming more successful in sprinting.

“Until the last few years, sprinters have been hugely bulky and extremely muscular, even their upper bodies. Over the past ten years, however that seems to have changed with leaner and more angular competitors becoming more successful.”

Professor Neville, whose research is due to be published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, examined the body composition and sprint times for the top 10 men and women in 100 metre sprinting over the past ten decades.

Athletes with a leanness ratio, known as a reciprocal ponderal index, of greater than 44 seemed to be the most successful.

The findings may also help identify athletes who may be worth watching closely during this summer’s Olympic Games in London.

Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre, who this year became the first white man to break the 10 second barrier in the 100 metres, rates highly based on his body composition.

Chelsea Warr, head of athlete development at UK Sport, said that sports coaches have become far more systematic at identifying the attributes that can produce an elite athlete.

She said: “The sports are far more proactive in how they are identifying the next future Olympians and profiling at what characteristics win in their sport.”

and the article that led me to it

Linford certainly looked bigger than Carl. I read that Linford was 14 stone back then.

Is this one of those “Bolt is the world record holder, so his body type/training method/achilles length/diet/neck circumference/shoe size/age/IQ/skill at video games/ability to dance/et cetera is the best way to be a sprinter” papers?

Usain looks bigger than 76kg - and Carl didn’t look bigger than 76kg… weird.

Personally i think they are grasping at straws and trying to make an article based on Fluff.

pretty much IMHO, you can always justify something if you work backwards from the result. Wonder where Frankie Fredericks fits? :wink:

Usain is 210 pounds/roughly 95,5 kgs. He said it himself on a British talk show which has been uploaded on youtube. No way Lindord is 76 kgs, either, or Lewis being bigger than Bolt or Linford. Quite a moot study.

Dont see why heat disipation is relevant to a sprinter - 5K and upwards yes. But never seen a sprinter overheat/dehydrate.

Probably a power /weight ratio (rather than total size) + stride length thing.

time to do a scan of his psoas and do a test of his quad tendon stiffness. perhaps that’s his secret to success…

and along came ben johnson and blew all this BS out of the water…if you believe the above stats sign yourself into a hospital quickly!

I wish both teams had similar changeovers, so we could really compare them properly. Bolt’s finish was clearly stronger, as it always was, but I couldn’t tell how much difference there was for the first 60m or so.

what a bunch of crap

Does anybody know what Bolt’s maximum squat is??

Acording to Carl Lewis’s book- One more victory lap, Carl mentioned that his best racing body weight in 1996 was 185lb, that’s 84kg or 13.2 stones. Bolt really said at that show that his body weight is between 205 and 215lb (93-97kg), 14.5-15.3 stones…

If you order Charlie’s Weights for Speed series (this series is a must in my opinion, and I do have everything), in Part 3 he goes into detail about what’s likely present in the Jamaican weights program- it is fascinating.

Considering the variables, I doubt Usain squats a staggering amount of weight if he squats regularly at all.

Here’s an example of him doing some sketchy hang cleans, but note they are not very heavy.

^^^^ yeah, I saw in another interview he doesnt like to squat at all, but he feels he must do some

During the beijing run9.69 he basically breathed 8 times…from 30-70m on every other stride then…relaxed in to 100m mark…cant really tell from 0-30m what kind of breathing went down, but he must of breathed at least once at block exit

Fantastic documentary on Usain Bolt last night on Australian TV station SBS. “World’s Fastest Man” chronicled his life up until the 2011 World Champs. Some great footage of Bolt running as a junior and training with Glen Mills.

I wasn’t aware that Mills commenced coaching Bolt after he had run 19.93 as a 17 year old. (And a 45.4 400m!). What an athlete to join your stable! Already a WJ record holder - sub 20s for 200!

Watching a 15 year old Bolt smashing kids 3/4 years his senior in junior sprints was fascinating.

The film showed the great camaraderie in the Mills camp and the respect Bolt has for Mills.

Yohan Blake: 1.8m X 80kg =>RPI 41.77 (well below optimal, according to the article)

Would the researchers like to try again?

Now on