Mar 27, 2018Optimize Sprinting: The Perfect Technique for Faster Athletes
Whether going for a first down or tracking a fly ball, coaches want athletes to do their job as efficiently and quickly as possible. Unfortunately, many athletes have been ingrained with a style of running that makes meeting this expectation difficult, no matter how much conditioning they engage in. The S-Force Performance Trainer from Matrix Fitness trains athletes’ bodies to utilize the correct form for sprinting, making them the fastest on the field of play.
“The first thing I ask athletes when they come in for speed technique training is, ‘Do you remember the day you first learned to run?’” says Phil Campbell, M.S., M.A., FACHE, ASCM-CPT, Certified Personal Trainer, and author of Sprint 8 Cardio Protocol. “The universal answer is no. When we are young, we aren’t strong enough to put our bodies in the correct technical position to propel with the fastest movement possible. So we have to unlearn the natural way of running.”
When learning to run as a child, most individuals do so in an upright stance. But Campbell explains that in order to sprint as fast as possible, athletes must run with a forward lean and slowly rise upwards, similar to an airplane taking off. Moving in this way recruits the glutes and upper hamstrings, the primary movers when it comes to sprinting. And while this may seem as though it should be easy to teach and learn, there are many parts of the body that work to “correct” this form of running.
“The middle ear is right beside your brain, and its main role in life is to keep you from falling,” says Campbell, who has worked as a speed consultant with Matrix Fitness for 15 years. “It doesn’t care if you score a touchdown or make a game winning tackle. Its job is to send powerful messages to run upright rather than forward in an athletic position.”
The brain has also been trained to work against the correct sprinting technique. The body engages slow twitch muscle fiber to accomplish every task, while the brain actively tries to conserve fast twitch muscle fiber. But sprinting as fast as possible requires the use of all three types of muscle fiber.
“Half of your muscles are trying to accomplish the goal, while the other half is sitting dormant and trying not to be used in case you need to run away from the bad guy,” says Campbell. “But when you force it to be recruited, it gets bigger and stronger.
The S-Force from Matrix Fitness remedies these issues by placing athletes in a fixed, forward lean position throughout their workout. Doing this precisely and continuously trains the middle ear not to correct the athlete’s stance while also forcing the recruitment of both types of fast twitch fiber to accomplish the exercise. Additionally, magnetic resistance increases the harder the athlete works, creating progressively challenging workouts.
“You have to go hard and fast, but going hard and fast in the upright position doesn’t do enough,” says Campbell. “You have to be in the mechanically perfect position. I’ve worked with some fast athletes who have been able to get a lot faster simply by perfecting their technique. The S-Force is a great unit that is absolutely perfect for speed training because everything you do on it is focused on enhancing speed.