Factors Affecting Sprinting Speed

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Specifically designed periodised programmes which include phases of training that are adapted throughout the year to suit the training needs (whether competitive or maintenance) of the athlete, is a fairly modern innovation. Historically “star” athletes were imitated in an attempt to achieve their level of skill; this inadvertently enabled other athletes to improve their performance. Developing a sports base is important for both the performance and the health of the athlete (Hoffman, Sheldahl & Kraemer 1998), it would ideally address each aspect of the athletes physical and mental capabilities; previously much of the emphasis of such programmes was to improve CV and aerobic conditioning. The range of metabolic requirements, injury potential, biomechanical characteristics involved in a particular sport would all be explored in a good conditioning programme. There are many factors which are vital to sports fitness; depending on the specific requirements of the sport the relevance and importance of each factor will vary. Fitness is a complex term and contains various elements which can be applied to individuals in different ways, the most relevant of which is physical fitness. Physical fitness is made up of seven main components; aerobic and muscular endurance, flexibility, speed, (muscular) strength, power and body composition. Agility and balance may be categorised as motor skills but are also recognised as components of fitness. The components of fitness relevant to sprinting 100ms will the discussed and ways in which training affects and can improve these will also be looked at. In sprinting power can be seen as being fundamentally the most important component to develop. This may be because being able to produce force in a short time space is important for success in most sports (Newton Kraemer Hakkinen 1999) but is crucial in creating a winning performance. Power is defined as muscle force time’s movement speed; the improvement of either speed or strength will lead to increased power. Power is closely related to muscular strength and is different from muscular endurance. Strength can be defined as the ability of a specific muscle or muscle group to exert a force in a maximal contraction. Increased muscular strength produces muscles with a high level of force (Heaney, 2008). Muscular strength is dependent on several variables including muscle mass, number of contracting fibres (Heaney, 2008), higher levels of muscle fibres produce a greater muscle girth and therefore more force (Heaney, 2008). Other more complex factors include gender; generally speaking males tend to be stronger than females, however there are many women who have developed their muscular strength. Females generally have twice the body fat levels of males and males may have up to ten times the testosterone levels of a female. Testosterone is an anabolic steroid which promotes muscle hypertrophy but may also influence men to be more aggressive and train harder (Sharkey, p147). Age is another factor on strength, muscles are strongest when a person is in their early 20’s and begins to decline after this. However if regular strength training is undertaken there does not appear to be the same physiological decline, along with speed, until after the age of 35/40. Resistance exercises taken up by an older person enables them to increase strength mass and mobility (Sharkey p146). Finally muscle fibre types affect strength; individuals who have higher levels of fast twitch fibres potentially have greater power (Sharkey, p146). Studies have shown weightlifters have greater area of fast twitch fibres than those who do not (Sharkey, p147). Heredity factors and training can also contribute to the increase in size (Sharkey, p147). Strength enables collateral development of other systems such as connective tissue and motor units, which enable muscle hypertrophy, by providing physiological stimuli. An individual who trains with weights in their 3 – 5 rep max range...
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