0-40 In 4.5 Seconds: How To Get Fast, Fast

The next couple of post's will be Q&A based mainly because I actually have questions to answer! How we've grown from me sitting in my dorm taking what i spent the past 3 hours studying and trying to verbally regurgitate it back onto a blog post so that the 15 views at the time, 10 of which were me, could better understand how we work and what to do about it. But now I'm rambling, today's question comes from a group member and friend of mine who play's on MSU ultimate Frisbee team [Midwestern State University not Michigan State] and is working to increase his 40 time,

Yes he's on the ground, thanks Mark

Dear Endunamoo,
I'm in search of track workouts to increase 40m times. What would you recommend? 
 -Mark C.

The barrage of replies all fit what you would expect to hear: "gotta run faster to be faster; squats, plyo's, powercleans; Go run and lift." Not bad advice, this will help create transfer strength and allow for an athlete to incorporate explosiveness into the real world, i.e. sprinting. Personally knowing Mark also helps me understand his gate [running sequence.] Mark was an endurance runner and a soccer player in high school so he runs like one. Short knee drive, small arm bend and an awkward arm swing; so the goal is to be able to take the runner technique and allow him to drive with force.

Break down:
-Foot Gate
There are three key movements that have become common knowledge in our society that need to be adjusted for better athletic "performance".  First and foremost let's bring up "heel strike". If you read one of the earlier post's about RUNNING then you understand that when we lose shoes, after running barefoot for a bit the body naturally forces us to run midfoot, which means "naturally" we want to run more towards the ball of our feet.

In recreational runners who almost exclusively use this technique [heel to toe], the frequency of injury has been conservatively reported to be three injuries per every 100 hours of running or that more than half of all runners experience injury within any given training year. - Fit [1]
That's not all, not only does running heel to toe increase injury but by striking heel first we increase the impact force on joints but also "brake" our momentum.[2] Also, by running midfoot the anatomical position of the foot also creates a "spring like" effect increasing the forward momentum. So what you need to take from this is that for an immediate speed increase, run midfoot.
-Body Posture
Next comes the way we hold our body in full sprint. When you see an untrained runner sprint the torso sits upright and the shoulders are shrugged and pinched, this is obviously wrong. By having a vertical torso your actually reducing momentum by having your center of gravity too far behind your foot strike. You need a forward lean at a small angle [20 degrees max] and allow your body weight to be a momentum tool. Next we need to relax the shoulders, by shrugging and pinching we reduce ROM in the shoulder joint and use some of our energy source for the full body clench. Overall it's a drain and a tightening mechanism and in sprinting we don't need that. So what you need to take from this is that for an immediate speed increase, small lean forward at no more than 20 degrees and relax the shoulders.
-Arm swing
Finally the crucial part to natural momentum swing is the ARMS! like a pendulam can use it's weight to rock back and forth you can use your arms to swing your body forward. A lot of people recommend that the arm swing should not be full ROM and that the elbow bend can be a greater angle, for sprinting I disagree. By cranking your arms front to back your torso goes from a dead weight that your legs have to chop forward to a momentum aid. Watch the video below for how we do the arm swing prep so that it's applicable for the real world.

Running routine:
Arm swing circut-
single swing 4x10
double swing 2x10
max swing 2x10 seconds

Sprint conditioning routine-
10 yrd sprints [head down & forward leans]: 6 sets @ 15 second rest
40 yrd sprints [head down & forward lean for first 10, forward for 30]: 5 sets @ 30 second rest
40 yrd sprints [head down & forward lean for first 10, forward for 30]: 4 sets @ 90 seconds rest

1 Corinthians 9:24 - Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 

  1. Buist, I., et al. Incidence and risk factors of running-related injuries during preparation for a 4-mile recreational running event. British Journal of Sports medicine 44:598-604, 2010.
  2. Bunn, J.W. Scientific principles of coaching. Prentice-Hall, Englewoods Cliffs, NJ, 1955.

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.