All sportsmen train at the gym for strength however, how many of them are able to use this strength on the ground?

Ans: Not many in my opinion…..

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Firstly every session in the gym should result in gaining strength/fitness regardless of the level you are at! You may be at your peak in terms of shape or hypertrophy but every training session should yield you better fitness.

Only a slight difference (btw two pics) but one can see the progression and how the calf muscle group has gained strength.

Learn the progression.

Now let us look into how these beautiful looking muscles help us become faster on the field. After all, every training should result in bettering our performance on the field.

Running video

shovel

Imagine a shovel: a) forced into the ground to collect the sand, and b) require the arm strength to pick up the sand filled shovel.

Similarly landing would determine how much force we can generate from the ground, just like how much sand we can collect in a shovel is determined by how deep we can dig .

Lets look into this craft in detail, via pictures, taken from the above video:

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Ques: What does it mean when we say ‘press your foot into the ground’ to generate force in running?

Ans: Check out the sand when back foot leaves the ground

It doesn’t matter where you are running….the force has to be generated from the ground. And wherever the surface is unstable or soft; it becomes challenging for the foot to grip the surface to generate this force.

Train the foot/toes to grip the surface.

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Ques: Why ‘strong ankle’ is a prerequisite for running faster?

Ans: The foot ‘landing force’ on the ground will determine how much force we can withdraw. A strong ankle will determine the force we need to thump our foot into the ground. The harder we hit the ground, the more force we produce.

Of course, the calf group helps our ankle to stay strong. However, the foot and toes muscles, often ignored in training, play a very important role in making our foundation strong.

Train the foot muscles to provide good foundation for force generation.

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Ques: Why take-off is important for speed?

Ans: We often speak about ground contact time when we discuss take-off. However, in my opinion, one should always focus on biomechanics of landing and taking-off. Because ground contact time is an outcome of strong landing and take off.

The unstable and soft surface can destabilize our ankle and therefore, it is the best surface to train your foot and ankle while simultaneously focusing on biomechanics. Regardless of how big your butt or calf muscles are; you wont be able to generate any force or move quickly through a sliding surface like sand, unless you have a strong foundation.

Learn to run properly to take optimal use of your gym training

(Check my other articles & researches for more information on how to use your muscular power in sporting movements)

Conclusion:

Your muscularity from weight training assures you nothing!

You are injury prone if you can’t take use of your strength on the field. Therefore, either you don’t train at the gym like any raw talent we see these days in sports or fast bowling; or learn to take optimal use of your strength by proper training. It is a combination.

In my opinion, this could be the reason why we see so many injuries in sports, especially with sportsmen who are training hard at the gym. A heavy squat or dead lift is only worth if we are improving speed on the field. Else, it is just a progression towards injury.

Simplifying training…..

Umesh Chhikara

Sports Scientist