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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Effective Method for Improving Sprint Speed

Resisted sprinting has become a standard training method for sprinters and other athletes who rely on their sprint speed (e.g. football players). There are various way to provide resistance to sprinting, such as small parachutes pulled by sprinters, push and pull sleds and carts, and long elastic cords. Evidence for the effectiveness of resisted sprinting, especially in combination with strength training, was provided in a recent article by Ross et al. in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (vol 23, no 2, 2009).

Experimental Method
25 college-age male athletes (American football, soccer, track and field), were divided among the following 3 training groups, all of which trained for 7 weeks:

  1. Resisted Sprint Training: Did 8-12 sets of 40-60-meter sprints on a treadmill with 2-3 minutes rest in between. A proprietary device pulled back on the sprinters with up to 25% of their bodyweight. 25-40% of the sprints in each training session were resisted and the rest were unresisted.
  2. Strength Training: Did a split routine of 10 weight-resisted exercises two days per week and 9 other exercises two days per week plus a core circuit each workout. Each exercise was done for 3-4 sets of 6-10 repetitions. There were 26-30 total sets per workout in addition to the core circuit.
  3. Combined-Training: Did both the Resisted Sprint Training and Strength Training programs described above, on different days.

Experimental Results
  • Only the Combined-Training group improved significantly in 30-meter sprint time.
  • The Resisted-Sprint Training group improved somewhat in 30-m sprint time, but the change did not quite reach statistical significance.
  • Only the Combined-Training group improved significantly in treadmill sprint peak power.
  • All 3 training groups significantly improved their maximum barbell squat (6.6-8.4 kg) without any statistically significant difference among the improvements of the groups.

Bottom Line:
Resisted Sprint Training, especially in combination with Strength Training, is effective in improving sprint time, even among athletes who are already practiced in their sports.

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