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The Young Athlete's Guide to Maximizing Athletic Performance Through Proper Nutrition and Exercise
Why is it that Coyote can never catch Roadrunner? Coyote is always trying to catch Roadrunner, but he is just too slow. Roadrunner, on the other hand, is a great sprinter. The ability to sprint gives him the edge over Coyote, in most sports, having speed gives you an instant advantage.
The system that allows you to sprint is called the Anaerobic Alactic system. That means without oxygen, and without the formation of lactic acid. Lactic acid is what makes your muscles hurt and feel sore. Sprinting is the first 10-20 seconds of all out intensity exerted by your muscles.
Sprinting ability is largely determined by genetics. You're born with a certain amount of slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers. Fast-twitch fibers determine sprinting ability. Many athletes feel as if speed and quickness are just beyond their reach. They feel that they were not born quick and never will be, this is not true.
All it takes to get that explosive step is the right kind of training. When training for speed, you need to make sure your muscle actions must be trained in every direction. That means that sprinting is not always a forwards motion. An athlete must also train going backward and side to side. Being able to change direction quickly will put you ahead of your fellow athletes.
In addition to changing direction, being efficient through the sprint will give you noticeably better speed. Now, what does being efficient through the sprint mean? It means getting all of the power you can out of every stride.
When training, close attention must be paid to acceleration, stabilization, and deceleration. Acceleration is the ability to explode into a sprint from no previous speed. Stabilization is being able to keep proper technique through the whole sprint. Deceleration is the ability to have the same intensity through the entire sprint.
That sounds like a large load, but it is not too hard. The most important part of sprint training is mental strength. The only way you will get the gains you want is to focus on every part of the sprint. During the 10-20 seconds of the sprint, you have to go 100% from the first stride to the last stride.
Two ways to improve speed are through plyometrics and sprints. Plyometrics is also known as jump training. Plyo is high intensity, explosive movements in all directions. Sprints are the old fashioned way to train for speed. The best way to do sprinting is with some kind of resistance. The resistance could be a bungee cord, resistance parachute, going up a hill or incline, or with a weighted sled.
Speed training doesn't take too long, about 10-30 minutes. If you're going to do another routine with sprint training, the sprints should be done first. When sprinting, intensity is key. At the end of a workout you probably won't be able to go 100%.
Sprints should be done in intervals. That means a ratio of work to rest. For an example if you're doing a 4:1 ratio, you sprint 10 seconds then rest 40. For beginners, a good ratio is 4:1. Then when that gets too easy, you change the ration to 3:1. Every time the workload gets too easy you decrease the rest time.
Some great plyometric routines are included in the P90X DVD series, and the Insanity workouts. Jumping ability is very important to having a quick and explosive acceleration.
Speed is what gives you the edge. Don't be like Coyote, do the plyometrics and sprints and you'll be ahead of your teammates and competition in a matter of weeks.