Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol:24 issue:3 pages:147-56
Today, it is generally accepted that sprint performance, like endurance performance, can improve considerably with training. Strength training, especially, plays a key role in this process. Sprint performance will be viewed multidimensionally as an initial acceleration phase (0 to 10 m), a phase of maximum running speed (36 to 100 m) and a transition phase in between. Immediately following the start action, the powerful extensions of the hip, knee and ankle joints are the main accelerators of body mass. However, the hamstrings, the m. adductor magnus and the m. gluteus maximus are considered to make the most important contribution in producing the highest levels of speed. Different training methods are proposed to improve the power output of these muscles. Some of them aim for hypertrophy and others for specific adaptations of the nervous system. This includes general (hypertrophy and neuronal activation), velocity specific (speed-strength) and movement specific (sprint associated exercises) strength training. In developing training strategies, the coach has to keep in mind that strength, power and speed are inherently related to one another, because they are all the output of the same functional systems. As heavy resistance training results in a fibre type IIb into fibre type IIa conversion, the coach has to aim for an optimal balance between sprint specific and nonspecific training components. To achieve this they must take into consideration the specific strength training demands of each individual, based on performance capacity in each specific phase of the sprint.