Track and field is quite simply speed and power quantified. Nearly ever event (aside from the distance events) reward athletes that are faster and create more force faster than their opponents. Even athletes that are not competing for state championships or all-american status, are comparing their current speed and power to what they were formerly capable.
The weightroom is one of the easiest places to develop improved speed and power through smart training. The following 5 exercises (and not all of them are Olympic lifts) are great movements to improve speed and power on the track.
1. Hang Clean-
You will notice that I did not say the Power Clean. Power cleans are the staple of most training programs, but the key is by doing this movement from the hang position i.e. with the bar just above your knees. This position is much closer to ones athletes actually use in most track and field events (or any other sport) and athletes have a much greater potential for technically sound lifts.
2. Hang Snatch-
Again, traditionally power cleans normally get all the love and attention of most programs, but snatches and particularly hang snatches are equally if not more important to the development of athletes. The hang snatch is traditionally a better indicator of immediate athletic performance because the bar is moving over a longer distance.
RELATED: Olympic Lifting Certification Course
3. Band resistance to traditional strength tools
Adding extra resistance in the form of large rubber bands can turn fundamental strength movements like the squat, bench, and deadlift into movements that produce great power. Using elastic resistance will mean that the farther the weight from the anchor the harder it will become, this will encourage athletes to accelerate to finish reps. Additionally band resistance will accelerate the eccentric portion of the lift to make the athlete more adept at quickly taking advantage of the stretch shortening cycle.
4. Kettlebell Swings
This is a foundation movement for any athlete looking to develop more power. The action in the kettlebell swing is founded on the idea of a hip hinge, this is important because most athletes need to gain better control of the ability to hinge at the hips. Most athletes are very much Quad dominant and are losing out on the potential of their backside. The Kettlebell Swing does a great job of teaching these motions effectively.
5. MB Throws
Using medicine balls in throwing motions (chest pass, Side throws, Throws for distance is a great way to develop power in the upperbody while incorporating the important parts of hang cleans, hang snatches, and Kettlebell swings. Delivering a Medicine ball with force is a great way to engage the core in explosive activities as well, generating force with the lower body must require active core control to deliver the ball with the arms.
There is a lot more than just speed and power that goes into becoming a great track and field athlete. It takes general strength, resistance to injury, proper conditioning and a well prepared mind. Using these tools in the weightroom will prepare athletes to run faster, jump higher and farther, and throw farther than they ever have before.