Track is one of the purest sports – it truly is a test of how far and how fast the human body can go, and nothing else. But that doesn’t mean that track athletes can expect to perform to their utmost ability without relying on off-track training. In fact, world-renowned champions such as Justin Gatlin attest to the fact that strength training is key to success on the track just as it is in any other sport.
Why? Because strength training fulfills a dual role of improving performance while staving off injury. It’s been scientifically proven to improve everything from bone health to the resiliency of muscles and other soft tissue.
But not all strength training programs are created equal. In fact, many regimes can do more harm than good by forcing the athlete to practice a series of unnatural movements by restricting the expression of their natural form. This leads to imbalances within key muscle groups that track stars rely on to drive them towards the finish line.
VertiMax Training Systems are among the only pieces of equipment that allow athletes to take on resistance while retaining their authentic movement. Here are five VertiMax training exercises proven to get results on race day.
This may be an obvious one, so why not start with it? The Vertimax is a helpful tool for athletes looking to build explosive power.
This exercise sees resistance loaded at the waist as well as at each quad. The athlete starts in a standing position about 10 meters in front of the Vertimax. Then, they explode forward and hit top speed within about 15 meters before decelerating gradually to a stop.
Sean Peña, a top trainer for US sprinters, swears by the Box Jump exercise. This drill builds explosive functional strength, especially useful for sprinters. Resistance bands are loaded at each hip in this workout, which sees the athlete jump from the Vertimax platform up to a box held by a trainer right off-platform. The athlete should be careful to keep their heels from hitting the box and stay “on their toes” to build good form.
Hamstring Pull Drill
This drill is a great at preventing hamstring pulls and building proper form. The athlete should take on resistance at one wrist and at the opposite ankle. They stand above the Vertimax and cycle their leg through a full rotation – as if they were running in place. The foot remains in solar flexion to ensure good form, and it should be outstretched directly under the athlete’s center of gravity.
Single Leg Hop
The Single Leg Hop challenges athletes to retain full control while balancing on one leg and hopping down the track. Resistance is loaded at the hip, and the athlete’s goal is to keep the hips forward. They start with one leg bent out front in a ninety-degree angle. They then hop forward 10-15 times, all the while fighting the urge to let their hips collapse. This motion is challenging and will require the athletes to swing their arms as if they are sprinting at full speed. After 10-15 hops, they simply walk back, switch feet, and start again.
Running High Knee Drive
This is one of the simpler drills. It requires athletes to load at each hip flexor and run in place with high knees for 20 seconds. Then, after those 20 seconds, they should start moving forward for 5 seconds, again with the emphasis on keeping high knees. This drill can be repeated with the athlete moving forward for the entirety of the 20-25 seconds.