Specific Strength and Speed- Where is the impact?


I have been talking to different coaches lately and asking about specific exercises and speed. I remember the Rocky 4 montage and seeing all of the leg extension and external rotations with the cybex like machine. While Hollywood isn’t evidence besides a good visual reminder, each decade we go through the cycle of one muscle and one exercise paired together as a solution to greater performances. Has it worked out with any athlete? Did Carl Lewis become world class because of the hamstring work? Did Bailey become the champion at 100m because of calf work? Is Bolt 9.5 because of the super light speed cleans and faux hawk? Even the best lifting programs in the world are not trumping running programs. Note I said running programs, or long to short programs that seem to be consistently developing fast short sprinters. Tempo isn’t magic, but it’s conservative and safe.

My point is that I believe that I have been over valuing things thinking they transfer acutely, but the reality is that no specific exercise or muscle strengthening has made any impact in sprinting, and nor will it ever be significant. I believe people will eventually run faster than Bolt, and it’s not going to be from their weight training. If we can accept that I think we can move on to better holistic programs, instead of looking for the quick fix. Instead of criticizing the primitive training programs of the islands and arguing about EMG studies, perhaps we should find research that supports what is working.

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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