I recently posted about my amazing time at the Powerade Sports Academy, and I promised that I would come back with some tips from the top!
US Olympian Mechelle Lewis-Freeman specialises in 100m sprints and competed in the Beijing 4 x 100m relay. This lady looks like she has springs under her feet! She has an amazing body and you can see the power in her every move. The type of explosive movement needed for sprints comes more naturally to some than others and will depend upon the proportion of fast and slow twitch muscle fibres in your body, but with the right training you can maximise your own potential to become faster and more powerful:
Mechelle’s speed drills:
- High knee running – drive your knees as high as you can whilst still moving forwards
- Jumping squats – start standing and jump forward landing in a squat and repeat as fast and high as possible
- Pumping arms – pump your arms as fast and hard as you can while you sprint
- Block starts – practice exploding out of the blocks using your arms
- Drive – practice coming from the blocks and keeping your head down as you dig in and gain maximum force forward
Olympian Mechelle Lewis-Freeman’s Top 10 Tips to improve Speed
- Have a good strength and conditioning programme
- Practice repetitive speed-work
- Practice block-starts
- Perform plyometric drills: squat jumps, hurdle hops, jumping lunges
- Get your nutrition and hydration right and add supplements to ensure all nutrients are covered
- Have a good team on your side such as a physio, coach and chiropractor
- Work on flexibility with yoga and Pilates
- Have a recovery programme including ice baths, massage and compression
- Find a good mantra and repeat it every hour every day: “Impossible is nothing”
Watt bikes provided the stationery bikes for the Powerade Academy and I must say that they are fantastic. If you, your club or even your kid’s school would like to understand or improve your riding then check out http://www.wattbikes.com
Our coaches at the academy were Watt bike’s Alastair Macdonald and Pro Cyclist Dean Downing who took us through the official team GB warm up which is shown below. This routine is obviously Olympic standard, so may well serve you as a training session rather then a warm-up, but whichever way you use it, it will improve your peak power and fitness levels.
Team GB Warm-Up with Watt Bikes and Dean Downing
- Begin with steady 70RPM (revolutions per minute) for 10 minutes
- Increase intensity to 80 RPM for 2 minutes,
- Increase to 90 RPM for 2 minutes
- Increase to 100 RPM for 2 minutes
- Reduce intensity back to 70RPM for 2 minutes
- Now perform 3 sets of 6 seconds absolute maximum within 2 minutes
- Spin out for several minutes to reduce lactic acid in legs and cool down.
The Watt bikes were hugely impressive, giving instant feedback on the screen about how much power is passing through each leg at every second as well as peak power and drive through each stage of the pedal revolution. Macdonald showed us how to improve our pedal stroke by pressing the foot down and back on the pedal, as if ‘scraping mud off your shoe’. This action evens out the pedal stroke and means you don’t lose power on the up stroke. (Be prepared for a little calf burn if this is a new technique to you though!). Dean Downing who has recently finished the Halford’s Tour Series told me that he combines his on-bike training with strength and conditioning circuits, focusing a lot on the core and using small weights, so make sure you cross train for best results.
What you put into your body is as important as how you train it, and all elite athletes have expert advice on how to maximise performance. At the Powerade Academy we were lucky enough to eat great food prepared by Beatriz Boullosa, who is currently working with Mexico’s Olympic gold medal winning football team:
Top Tips from Elite Nutritionist Beatriz Boullosa
- Before exercise: 1-4gm carbohydrate/kg bodyweight/hr. 1-4 hrs before competition
- During exercise: 0.5-1gm of carbs /kg bw/hr (your body requires quick and long term energy and needs easily digested fuel.
- After exercise: Carbs and protein. Carbohydrates are like a builder; putting the bricks (protein) into the right place to repair and build muscle. 4gm carb per 1 gm protein
- Make sure you sleep! You cannot build muscle without adequate sleep.
- Your brain needs fuel: If you run on empty you will make poor decisions which will limit your performance.
- For optimum health every meal should contain the three food groups: protein, carbs and fruit/vegetables
- Don’t diet! Low calorie diets can make your body use muscle for fuel, reducing your BMR
For more info on Powerade go to http://www.poweradegb.com