Someone who has a high calf has a long calcaneal (achilles) tendon. The longer the calcaneal tendon, the more elastic force the lower leg structure is potentially able to take in and put back out. Notice, I said ‘potentially’.
My advice to you is not to worry about the length of your own calves, because you can’t to anything about it. The same way you can’t do anything about the size of your feet. What you can do, is train the elastic qualities of your lower leg complex to make the most of what you have.
Personally, I do have very high calves (higher than MJ or Mo), but I’ve also seen HSI sessions, seen the athletes, and simply put, the stuff about needing high calves is bs. This is a link to a video showing both Mo and Ato training:
You can look for yourself. Also, take a good close look at Mo’s upper body, which should also disprove certain other things. Also, as Hakkam Andersson has pointed out, most top sprinters don’t do much plyometrics: I do a little, but just a little (10-20 contacts 1-2X/wk in SPP).
Elastic strength can be trained through various methods. Depth jumps, hurdle hops, bounds, stiff-legged hopping drills with a low GCT, or just plain sprinting.
Another consideration for making sure you get the most out of your lower leg is having strong feet. For this, I recommend either EMS treatment on the soles or you could do your warmups barefoot and in grass. Plyos can be done like this as well.
High calves are not BS. The longer your achilles tendon, the more reactive force you are able to potentially generate through the ankle joint. That having been said, a long achilles is not the deciding factor in one’s speed. It is merely one piece of the puzzle; insignificant on it’s own, but essential to the whole.
Also, all top sprinters do a lot of plyometrics. Top speed sprinting is the most elastic dominant movement I can call to mind. So, while they don’t do depth jumps or hurdle hops or whatever, they spend a great deal of time sprinting.
I said that because I consider sprints just another training tool in a sprinters toolbox. I believe sprint speed can be increased without actually sprinting, as long as the motor functions needed to perform it are enhanced through other means. By this I mean that instead of sprinting, you could work out what your system needs to sprint better, target it, and improve without ever setting foot on a track.
As an example, I’ll break down what you need to train top speed without actually running. Depth jumps, altitude landings, unilateral low-GCT hip flexion hops. With these three methods, I was able to drop my 60M time from 7.43 to 7.06 in 2 months while only sprinting once between the two times.
So, to me, sprints are just another, albeit more specific, plyo drill.
I know what you meant, I was just messin with ya. Your theory is quite similiar to a very good article I read on how great powerlifters increased their deadlift without doing any actual competetion style deadlifts. The powerlifters would do the actual deadlift periodically, but more or less used as an indicator of how their progress is going, not to actual further their progress. Thought I had it saved on my computer…
I do beleive that, once you get to a certain level in sprinting, I don’t think its possible to get faster without actually sprinting? I can’t see a 6.7-6.8 athlete getting faster without running, do you?
Yes, they do compete for the same resources. And yes, this is training venue related. I choose plyos over sprinting when I don’t have access to a track. I live in Alaska, and so the only place I’ve been able to run for the past 7 months has been a long carpeted hallway (80M), and I have limited access to that. I would not preferentially choose plyos over sprinting in most cases, but we all have to make sacrifices sometimes.
another reason over hypertrophied calves are a bad idea is that as one of the most distal muscle groups their extra weight can icrease the torque the proximal muscles have to produce to move the limb. the mass of the calf has a long moment arm from the proximal muscles of the hip so a slight increase in the calves weight will have a geometric increase in the torque the muscles of the hip must produce to move the limb.