by: Brandon Richey
Strength Tip Of The Day…The Gait
Today’s blogisode is all about the gait. I mean as strength coaches we often find ourselves talking about the obvious topic of strength and how to lift heavy objects in the most effective manner, but what about preparation for the zombie apocalypse? I mean at some point in time you’re going to have to be able to move out from under that bar and show off your mobility skills, right?
The Gait: A Particular Way Or Manner Of Moving On Foot.
So last night I stayed up watching the final BCS national championship game between the Auburn Tigers and Florida State Seminoles. It was a hell of a matchup and I can’t wait until my Georgia Bulldogs will have a title run in the new system next year, but I digress. If you were like me and took the time to watch this football game, or any football game for that matter, you saw some very strong players on the field making some very impressive feats of athleticism.
I mean the point is that when looking at football players (and other athletes as well) we tend to focus on how strong they are more than anything else. I mean let’s face it, some of these players are just physically imposing figures to see in person. Now having said that the one characteristic that we all care about come game day is how well they can run. I mean speed kills right? The bottom line is that there is no doubt we want to see our guy with the ball to take off blazing down the sideline past the other team in order to take that pigskin to the house!
The point is that speed is just a characteristic that can’t be neglected. Now don’t get me wrong strength can’t be neglected either, and strength does influence the development of one’s speed and athletic ability. However, I just wanted to take a second to point out the other side of the coin. You see the improvement of one’s gait along with the development of speed also influences strength development as well. I believe it’s a 2-way street. You see the movements that involve the development of optimal performance don’t end with the barbell.
I’m a big believer in one practicing and improving on the skill of running, or sprinting. Being able to develop a strong gait ensures that you have mastered yet another human primary movement (or primal movement) within the scope of your performance. The point is that you don’t want to neglect this part because you’ll only be engaging in a program that is very one dimensional. The physical needs to survive either within an athletic environment, or just a demanding world full of flesh eating zombies requires the ability to run!
By the way if I can’t change your mind on this then maybe The Walking Dead might. It’s an entertaining show and highly addictive. Anyways, the point is that training your gait should come as a regular part of your strength and conditioning model.
Training the gait not only provides us with benefits to achieve a superior level of conditioning, but you will feel as if you can move better altogether. Combined with strength development you can also build on the element of speed by conditioning your body for sprinting. Once you have achieved being able to do this with just your own resistance you can progressively challenge yourself by practicing a more challenging feat by running up a hill ,or up some stadium stairs.
From here you can add resistance for both linear and lateral development to increase speed by using a resistance harness, a bungee, or with a good ‘ole rope and tire (as pictured with me above from my Brandon Richey’s Unconventional Conventional Method Of Strength).
Linear speed can also be obtained from overspeed training. This involves you utilizing resistance in a manner to “assist” you in running a bit faster than you are naturally capable. For instance, you can use a bungee for added resistance in this, as well as running down a slight grade to increase your stride length. There are a number of ways to build your speed and improve the gait through athletic performance.
In addition to these tools a great way to start to work on arm and knee drive would be to utilize an agility ladder. The ladder provides us with a visual for where the foot should be properly striking the ground during the act of a sprinting motion. With proper coaching and the implementation of effective running mechanics you can quickly start to improve your sprinting motion with very little space and within a relatively short period of time. I like to crank out some runs on the agility ladder just for the convenience. Check out some of the lateral high knee runs I’m performing and take note of the knee and elbow drive I’m displaying with the camera angle.
As you can see the focus I’m trying to convey with this is to work on getting my foot to and from the ground rapidly, more than just trying to get from one end of the ladder to the other quickly for this particular drill. The emphasis here is to work on knee and elbow drive for optimal power production in building on speed. This is one way you can start on improving your gait my friend.
In addition to linear and lateral speed development concerning the gait you can also apply drills that focus in on the acceleration and deceleration component of speed development. I mean if you’re going to be conditioned from top to bottom then you’ve got to be able to start and stop impressively as well, right?
To practice this you can set up some cones for some acceleration/deceleration drills within a relative short space as well. I set up a line of 8 cones to work on this and once again these can be progressed by adding a load such as a weighted vest or a bungee in due time. However, I promise your own resistance can provide enough of a challenge for you for quite a while if you are performing these with any level of respectable intensity. Check out the 3 step drop here…
As you can see a lot can be done within a relatively short space if you are effective with your selection of drills and understand the purpose. Once you start to feel you are making solid progress on these drills and start to progressively intensify your execution of them you will also notice a substantial difference in your strength gains as well. Your recovery will speed up, you’ll be able to rapidly produce more force for given lifts, and overall you’ll just feel like you can move better and better.
I mean the bottom line is that strength is a skill, but so are the conditioning elements that support strength. The gait is the key to helping you to develop a solid base of conditioning while also ensuring you can stay sharp in total movement. Remember in the zombie apocalypse I don’t necessarily have to worry about outrunning the zombie, I just have to outrun you! 🙂
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