Research Proves How Strength Can Make You Faster
Research from the worlds leading sport scientists at places like Harvard University and SMU’s Locomotor Performance Laboratory have shown that faster sprinters are able to apply more force to the ground. They’ve proven that if you want to maximize your speed, you need the strength to apply big forces to the ground quickly.
The Velocity Speed Formula has 4 main components and two of those are BIG FORCE and SMALL TIME. In multiple studies over the last decade, researchers have confirmed that these 2 components of the Speed Formula are a big difference between faster and slower sprinters.
To propel your body forward, and to keep you upright, your leg has to produce a lot of force into the ground on each step. That’s what builds your momentum during acceleration phases and keeps it going during your full speed sprinting.
You create that big force, by first getting your leg up into the right position on each stride. Picture a sprinter with their front thigh up high, about parallel with the ground. Then you use the explosive strength in your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings to generate power and drive your foot down into the ground.
Your speed dictates why the big force you generated has to be applied in a small time. Think about. As you sprint faster, your body is moving over that piece of ground your foot hit faster. The faster you sprint; the less time your foot is in contact with the ground. That’s just simple physics.
Now let’s combine that big force with the small time. This is the hard part, and where some athletes fail. You need the explosive strength to get the leg attacking down at the ground as hard as possible AND you need the reactive strength to apply it efficiently and quickly.
When your foot hits the ground, it’s driving down with a lot of power. There’s only 90-150 milliseconds of time to get all that force into the ground. Your ankle, knee or hip all have to stay “stiff” enough to apply the force and not bend or absorb it.
This doesn’t mean stiff as in lack of flexibility. It means that the muscles and tendons in your lower body can hit the ground and deliver all your power without stretching or relaxing. An analogy to help visualize this is to picture 2 bouncing balls. One is a bouncy, superball made of a “stiff” rubber. The other is more like a beach ball and soft. Which one bounces higher when it hits the ground?
The stiffer superball does because it applies the force to the ground and stores elastic energy. The beach ball absorbs some of the force and doesn’t have the eastic energy to rebound. That’s like reactive strength. Your muscles and tendons don’t relax and absorb the force. They store elastic energy and use it to help you go faster.
To generate a big force with your lower leg you will need explosive strength and to apply it you need reactive strength. The good news is that research has also shown that getting stronger correlates with getting faster. You can develop these specific strength qualities by working in the weightroom using Olympic lifts, doing plyometrics properly, and learning the optimum mechanics for sprinting.
The Velocity Speed Formula is built on science and proven in sport. The research is starting to catch up and show why we can help you get faster.
Faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces not more rapid leg movements
Weyand, et. al , J Appl Physiol 89: 1991–1999, 2000.
Are running speeds maximized with simple-spring stance mechanics?
Kenneth P. Clark, Peter G. Weyand, Journal of Applied Physiology Published 31 July 2014
Relationships Between Ground Reaction Impulse and Sprint Acceleration Performance in Team Sport Athletes, Kawamori, et. al, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27(3), April 2012
Increases in lower-body strength transfer positively to sprint performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis, Seitz, et. al., Sports Med. 2014 Dec;44(12):1693-702