Archive for category Performance Tips
Running hills is a long-time training tradition, but just because it is a tradition does not mean that coaches and trainers are using it correctly. Athletic performance is becoming a science. Gone are the days of running until you puke and putting as much weight as you can on a bar and lifting it as many times as you can. Functional, anatomically-correct training is the new age of athletic performance training. We now know that maximizing the efficiency of the our body's movement systems is more effective than maximizing the strength of an inefficient system. The purpose of this post is not to discount the tried-and-true training systems, but instead to expose you to the science of how these traditions fit into a well-rounded training regimen.
Running hills has its merits, but if increasing speed is the goal, it should not be a regular practice in your training. With all the different time demands on today's athletes, training must be as efficient and effective as possible, so with this in mind,
HERE ARE THREE REASONS WHY RUNNING HILLS IS NOT THE MOST EFFECTIVE USE OF YOUR SPEED TRAINING TIME:
1. Inhibition of the full leg cycle • The key to speed training is to maximize the efficiency of the leg cycle. This is done by maximizing the stride length and stride frequency. When running hills or stairs, the extension phase of the stride is repeatedly inhibited. This shortens stride length by creating muscle memory of the inhibited motion. Shorter stride creates a slower runner.
2. Slow-Twitch Muscle Development • There are two types of muscle fiber that are responsible for most athletic movements: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. It is important to train to develop the type of muscle fiber that your sport necessitates. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are important for long distance athletes such as marathon runners and triathletes. These are sports that you are working at 60-75% of capacity for extended periods of time. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are important for athletes in sports such as football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, and soccer. These are sports that you are working at 75-100% of capacity for short spurts. Think about your sport. For the majority of them, the important action takes place within a 5-10 yard box. Thus, we want to train accordingly. Running hills or stairs is typically done at 60-75% of capacity over an extended period of time. This tempo is good for developing slow-twitch and muscular endurance, but for most our sports, we want to focus on fast-twitch and explosive movements.
3. Muscular imbalance • Because running hills/stairs inhibits the natural leg cycle, the quadricep muscles become overworked. Running hills minimizes the recovery phase of the stride in which the hamstring pulls the heal to the butt and through. This combination of quadricep overload and hamstring minimization causes a muscular imbalance that can lead to an increased risk of hamstring tears.
IF I SHOULDN'T RUN HILLS, WHAT SHOULD I DO TO GET FASTER?..... Contact us!