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Your Gait: How To Master Sprinting

Your Gait: How To Master Sprinting

So in today’s BRF blogisode special the magical topic of discussion is going to revolve around the art of sprinting. That’s right, your gait is a part of your performance. Yes, we should be lifting AND we should also be sprinting… and doing so the right way.

The Technique

As a strength coach I’m fairly amazed at how so many coaches both on and offline fail to address the act of sprinting when it comes to looking at an individual trainee’s performance. Sure everyone loves to post the YouTubes of themselves butchering a box jump while trying to land on a stack of boxes that damn near goes to the ceiling, or someone else will post a video of some big squat or deadlift PR. Sure these things are exciting, but I’m always left wondering Do any of these people know how to sprint?

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The truth is that a lot of people don’t know how to sprint. As a strength and conditioning coach my objective is to train for performance and with the performance the results will come. However if we are performing lifts and box jumps the wrong way there are plenty of blogposts on the internet to address all of that, but for some reason not very many coaches are addressing the issues that are associated with the act of sprinting.

Just like lifting demands technique from us so does the act of sprinting and running. So many people butcher this because they’ve never been taught, or trained for the purpose of sprinting with a high level of quality. Today I want to steer the BRF blog in a direction to address some of the fundamental rules of sprinting and running.

With sprinting there are rules that are associated with both the upper and lower body. As you can see in the video I’m addressing the upper body mechanics. As a coach the upper body is usually the quickest area for me to assess in a respective trainee to see whether or not they are efficient in their sprinting technique.

As I mentioned in the video if they are moving their arms side to side then they are no doubt wasting a lot of motion. This is unnecessary energy and will only bleed the speed and power out of a respective sprint. Make sure you practice the upper body technique of elbow drive in the mirror a few times to get the feel of where your arms should be during the act of sprinting.

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In addition to the upper body we also want to make sure we have a handle on the technical aspects of the lower body as well. I’m always surprised at just how flat footed people can be today when I see them run for the first time. There is no doubt that feet have become a new trouble area for people in this modern era, but that in of itself is a post for another day.

The key to sprinting is making sure that we are light on our feet. This means that we should run on the balls of the feet. Like I pointed out in the video if I can hear you running then you are already too slow.

The art of sprinting also involves being able to pull the knee up creating rapid knee lift while rapidly being able to strike the ground with the foot dorsiflexed to create a springing action. The knees should resemble a piston in a car engine.

The Emphasis

This continuous cycle of knee lift and foot striking the ground in a smooth manner will generate a much more controlled sprint from any trainee. It takes practice and one can train themselves to practice the act of pulling the knee up by practicing drills that reinforce this action. One great way to do this is by including lateral high knee runs with an agility ladder.

As you can see in this drill by including the lateral high knees in the ladder it forces me to strike each square of the ladder with both feet. Additionally, because I’m moving laterally it’s easy to see how significant the rules of the upper and lower body apply in this drill as I covered earlier.

The elbow drive is present for the upper body and I’m able to focus in on getting significant knee lift while also striking the ground with the balls of my feet while keeping my ankle dorsiflexed. This is one solid way to practice and master the mechanics of efficient sprinting.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and if so then don’t be shy about posting up. What kind of sprint training are you implementing?

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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