We work on every muscle in the gym (or at least we try) in lieu of gaining strength in our legs to enable us run faster. If only weight training could improve your speed, we would see body builders as sprinters.

Running fast is about optimizing TRIPLE FLEXION & TRIPLE EXTENSION in literal terms. However, it has many aspects and let us learn how triple extension is related to triple flexion and vice versa.

Yes, and we can work on these aspects in the gym via Olympic lifts and other leg exercises. This is been the thinking of many strength trainers.

My opinion: We are not running with weights on the field and neither we follow gym movements (vertical). We are in horizontal plane on the field – running, jumping and falling on the field and therefore, it is important to learn the movement to optimize (working on the circuit) what we already possess and learn to move effortlessly in a synchronized manner.  Good running mechanics/technique convert your muscle strength into forward motion efficiently and optimizing the energy cost of running.

What is considered as weakness in leg muscles is often a ‘running mechanics’ or circuitary issue from neuromuscular perspective that compromises our running speed.

Let us understand this:

IMG_20200321_214725Triple extension (back leg): Ankle, knee & hip

Plantar flexion of back foot, knee and hip extension play an important role in pushing you forward.

Triple flexion (front leg): Ankle, knee & hip

Dorsi flexion of foot, hip flexion (knee height), knee flexion play an important role in generating force into the ground.

The ‘back leg’ is responsible for generating force from the ground whereas, the ‘front leg’ is responsible for generating force into the ground.



WhatsApp Image 2020-03-22 at 7.49.07 AMTo understand this better, let us look at another example: Compare the two pictures and you can understand how triple extension of the back leg is related to triple flexion of the front leg. In order to extend his knee further, the boy has to flex the knee of the front leg, to allow for time, for back leg extension. Otherwise his front leg would hit the ground not allowing for any time for more extension in the back leg.

If we understand this co-relation between the functioning of front and back leg we can work on our running mechanics. This is working on underlying neuromuscular capabilities as per science. This is the electric circuit that needs to be insulated first and foremost.

A correct movement would lead to higher velocity that further results in more force and ultimately power.

Let us evaluate his running action to understand more:

a) Arm, head and back position – Good

b) Back leg extension: needs a bit of work but he is very close

C) Front leg flexion: needs work

Ques: Can he improve his speed if he works on the above two?

Ans: Yes, 100 % ….will do a post with improved version.

To understand the nuances of running on the field e.g a cricketer running a curved apth to catch a ball or running 1st to 3rd in baseball. hockey, or running in American football (NFL); watch this video:


WhatsApp Image 2020-03-22 at 11.10.07 AMWe don’t always run in straight line in real time situation.

Yes, let us understand the progression to high speed turns.

To make a turn without compromising much on speed, we have to plant our foot, shift our weight, pivot, and explode in the opposite direction. Unlike 180 degrees turn in agility drills where you have to bring the center of mass closer to the ground while making a turn, the real time situation on the ground sometimes doesn’t allow you to slow down at all.

This is what I call setting up the electric signals and practice deep to insulate these signals. 


WhatsApp Image 2020-03-22 at 11.11.10 AMLet us look at another example to study the difference. Same turn…same distance….same surface.

Can you spot the difference in these two running postures/form at the turn? Who do you think is turning faster?

This teaches us the importance of relevant training. Understand the sporting movements and train your athletes for those movements.

MOVEMENT is the key in sports…

Umesh Chhikara

Sports Scientist