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Sprinting Mechanics to Run Faster

proper sprinting form to run faster

property of NY Times

A number of people believe that in order to run fast, you simply have to go full-scale and move you arms legs as fast as you can. This is the most incorrect way to run fast. In order to run faster times and destroy the competition you need to have the correct training and proper sprinting motion.

In relation to sprinting techniques you should aim on relaxation, your arm swing and your leg action. In order to run fast times you have to realize that you need to be relaxed. This means you should not be moving in jerky motions. Your movements should be very smooth and streamlined and straight.

Arm Movement: your arm swing should drive backward with your hands coming up to your cheek and then past your pockets on the bottom swing. It should be very fluid and smooth. Your legs should also move quickly and smoothly. When it comes to your leg mechanics everything should be up and down.

Leg Movement: As you leg comes up you should have your ankle step over the opposite knee. When your knee reaches its highest position make sure you get that feet back down on the ground quickly. The feeling you should feel in your leg action should be almost like a marching motion.

In addition, some runners think in order to increase your stride length you should extend your lower leg. This will only result in injuries, so all you need to do is to focus on the up-and-down motion of your legs and everything else will fall into place.

These are the basics of sprinting mechanics to help you run faster.

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Training Science to Run Faster

Believe it or not, when running – even walking – we are going against gravity. So the more force applied to the ground, the further we can ‘throw’ ourselves ahead, upward etc. Resist Gravity and Run Faster.how to run faster like usain bolt

Force applied to the ground is the main component of running fast. Numerous studies have shown that the average human has the same leg speed as elite sprinters. So what makes the elite sprinter run faster? Force upon contact…as well as other factors is what  determines speed.

A recent study titled, Technical Ability of Force Application as a Determinant Factor of Sprint Performance, by Morin and colleagues, took a close look at sprint performance using 12 subjects including 2 sprinters. What they found was that speed was determined by high amounts of net horizontal force, which is calculated by subtracting braking forces from propulsive forces. The orientation of the total force applied onto the supporting ground during sprint acceleration is more important to performance than its amount.


Now, what does all this science mumbo jumbo apply to training for speed. We want to run faster, correct? Well, this study concludes what I always determined to be true in speed development. Now in my previous post I suggested that the squat is the king of all exercises…and it still is. The squat is a foundation builder. In my belief, until you can squat 1.5 to 2x your body weight, you should not undertake any other training methods. Now if you are at the elite level of squatting, you need to incorporate sprint speed development exercises.

Any form of hip extension exercise involving the  posterior chain is a speed developer (hamstrings, lower back and glutes). The Glute-Ham raise, Hyper-extensions, Reverse Leg presses, Hip thrusters (also known as Butt Blasters) are some of the exercises that will help develop this.

Run Faster Training Philosophy

My training philosophy is to super-set a Posterior chain exercise, as stated above, with 15-30  second blasts of jumping rope. Why? Well, unlike most trainers out there who believe the calf muscle is not an important part of  running speed development, I believe otherwise. When running, the first body part to hit the ground and absorb shock is your calves. Calf muscles that are trained to spring back powerfully will propel you forward and farther without wasted energy. See your legs as pogo sticks. Power and Spring trained as one.

What I do believe is that training calves for size will slow you down. Heavy calves are like ship anchors. Most elite sprinters are thin calved, and despite that most can still lift enormous weight using their calf muscles due to the powerful spring action in their calves. My Speed Training Philosophy: Strength and Spring = Speed

Superset the glute-ham raise (video below) with 15-30 sec jump roping (alternate styles of jumping. example: start with two legged, then one legged, then side to side, double rope swings etc. 15-30 second blast) Do about 3-4 sets at least twice  a week.

I increased my speed tremendously doing a posterior chain exercise super-setted with jumping rope way before I incorporated more advanced techniques.

Do Squats And Run Faster

How do you become faster

Well simply…SQUAT!

Squats is the king of all exercises. Master the squat and your speed, explosiveness, overall athletic abilties will increase.

You cannot go wrong with the squat.

Done correctly, you will achieve high levels of strength and that strength will carry over to speed.

Squatting builds the entire lower body and to some extent the upper body. It is technically a full body exercise that requires patience, balance, and a strong will.

There is nothing like heavy squatting. The goal for any squatting program is to be able to correctly squat 2x your body-weight. If all else is equal with a low body fat ratio and with double your body-weight squat strength, I am positive your sprinting speed, along with vertical jump, will be at an elite level.

With any training program always –  and I cannot stress this enough – start with light weight for the first few weeks. Let your body get used to the movement before tackling heavy weights. The video below shows proper squatting technique.