Home Blog Kelly Baggett: The 5 MOST Common Speed, Quickness and Explosiveness Problems in Athletes: Part 2

Kelly Baggett: The 5 MOST Common Speed, Quickness and Explosiveness Problems in Athletes: Part 2

Written on October 11, 2010 at 11:45 pm, by Eric Cressey

Today, we’ve got part 2 of a great guest blog series from Kelly Baggett.  You can find Part 1 HERE.

In the first installment, I talked about several of the common problems athletes have that make them perform more like an oversized truck and less like greased lightning.  In this installment, I’ll give you some solutions to those problems.  Let’s get to it!

Problem #1: Bad Feet
Solution: Spend Some Time Training Barefoot.

One simple thing you can do for bad feet is spend a little bit of time each week training barefoot. Your body won’t let you move in a rearfoot dominant posture when you’re barefoot because it’ll hurt too much.

As an experiment, try taking your shoes off and lightly jog a few steps down the street. You’ll probably find the ONLY way you can do it is to get up on your forefoot.

Also, pay attention to which muscles you “feel” the movement driven by when you run barefoot.  I don’t recommend training on concrete regularly. but if you have access to a fairly soft surface (grass is ideal and most carpet works fine), don’t hesitate to scrap the shoes for a while.

Here is a video that clearly shows the difference between running with shoes on and off.

The idea is to do enough barefoot training that your feet strengthen and begin to favor the barefoot posture even when wearing shoes. Even 20 minutes once a week on grass is helpful.

If barefoot training isn’t an option you can always train in lighter footwear that helps mimick barefoot running. Shoes like Nike Free 5.0 or 7.0 and Vibram 5 fingers can be an option here.

Problem #2: Lack of Glute Dominance.
Solution: Really Focusing on Strengthening the Glutes!

In short, if you want glute dominance, you need to spend significant time strengthening the glutes. Try this experiment.

Go in the gym, warm-up and knock out a couple of sets of 10 paused manual reverse hyperextensions. If you don’t have a dedicated machine, find a bench, hang a dumbell between your shins, and do a couple of sets of 10 reps with a slight pause at the top.

Now that you have a good glute pump, take a casual stroll and see if you notice any differences in how you’re walking. You’ll likely notice that your strides are longer and you’re better positioned to drive off the balls of your feet when you walk because your hips inherently want to extend more.

That’s a good thing from a speed perspective!   Strong glutes favor a longer, more efficient, and more powerful stride. They also keep you injury free.

Problem #3: Lack of End-Range Strength in the Psoas.
Solution: Get Strong at 90 Degrees Hip Flexion or Higher.

The key for a strong psoas (and proper knee lift in sports) is strengthening the muscles that lift your knee up to 90 degrees or higher.  Here is an example of that and an exercise for that.

Being strong in 90 degrees-plus of hip flexion also helps ensure optimal femur control, or put simply: it ensures the muscles high on your hip are controlling your thigh bone.

Problem #4: Lack of Mobility in Key Muscle Groups.
Solution: Regularly Stretch/Mobilize the Quads, Hip Flexors, and Ankles.

Stretching the quads and rectus femoris turns off what are often tight and overactive muscles controlling the knee – and that promotes better hip dominant movement.

The psoas must be strong, as I talked about earlier, but it also must be mobile enough to not negatively impact posture.  An excessively tight psoas will negatively impact gluteal recruitment. If you’ve ever looked closely at a picture of the psoas, you can see the majority of the muscle lies up above your hip joints in more of the deep abdominal region.

I’ve noticed many people are both weak and tight in the psoas.  People that are really tight often have adhesions in the upper psoas. The upper psoas is hard to get to and in my experience requires a solid twist of the upper body to reach effectively.

When it’s dealt with effectively, it’s not uncommon to hear an audible “pop” in your lower ab region as the adhesions release, followed by an immediate ease in breathing and increased feeling of looseness in the hips.

Here is a good all-in-one stretch I recommend for the quads, rectus femoris, and the psoas:

And here is one for the ankles:

Most people should stretch daily and the more extensive your impairments the more frequently you should do so. I’ve had some people stretch for 20 seconds every hour of the day while others can get away with one short session per day. Many people can improve significantly simply by implementing proper mobility work for these muscles.

Problem #5: Lack of Strength and Power in Relevant Muscles
Solution: Give Resistance Training an Honest Effort.

To move like lightning, you have to be able to get lots of force into the ground – and that means you have to have strength in the right places.  That means the hip extensors, knee extensors, and plantarflexors must be strong and powerful.  How do you get them strong and powerful?

You must do some form of progressive resistance training.  That means some type of squatting or lunging for the knee and hip extensors, and some type of toe press or plyometrics for the plantarflexors.  You then must take that base of power and apply it into progressive sport-specific movements.

Fortunately, all the specific stuff is taken care of in The Truth About Quickness Insiders System. The important thing from a longer term perspective is that you or your athletes spend time developing a base of strength through common strength exercises like squats, Bulgarian split squats, lunges, and deadlifts.

That about covers it!  Hopefully you’ve found this short list of problems and solutions beneficial in your training or coaching. Stay strong and good luck with it!

As you may already know, Kelly and Alex Maroko just released The Truth About Quickness Insiders System, a resource I highly recommend.  This outstanding product will be on sale at a great introductory price ($40 off) only through this Thursday at midnight.

  • The program looks like a solid program. I agree on many of the points while learning a few things.

  • Rich

    Good info!

    I’d be curious to know what the recommendation to strengthen the psoas is based on? Top sprint coaches don’t seem to advocate psoas strengthening exercises and point out that hip flexion is more reflexive or reactive in nature. Any thoughts?

  • How much of toe-running is correlated with calf strength? I’ve noticed that running on the midfoot or forefoot overloads and calf and underloads the hamstrings and therefore, the knee. Sprinting, you may not need as much stabilization of the knee because it won’t last as long. But if long distance running, is midfoot or forefoot running smart because you sacrifice stabilization of the knee?

  • michaelchasetx

    Christopher, not toe-running, ball-of-foot first running … and, after you building the muscles in the feet and leg, there is more elastic recoil from the calves and use of the whole posterior chain, including hamstrings and glutes. I run in huaraches or barefoot.
    And I appreciate all you do, Eric Cressey!

  • Tom

    The Vibram Five Fingers defintitely get you on your forefoot to strengthen the calves – that and beach running are great ways to add variety to the traditional heel/toe foot strike.

  • I own Nike Frees and Vibrams. Love them! My athletes have followed suite and have ditched the Nike Shocks. I’ve been having my athletes do a lot of rear foot elevate split squats and shitty shoes are a nightmare. Bare foot and Nike Free Trainers are the way to go. It really shows the kids how bad, bad shoes are.
    Ice Hockey players are the worst because they cram their feet into skates 2-5 sizes to small.

  • The barefoot running stuff was interesting.

    Rick Kaselj of http://ExercisesForInjuries.com

    .

  • Chosen1

    A quick tip there for tip toe running. As you running lean forward like you are falling. That will automatically put you on toes and running will feel effortless.

    At the beginning of practice it will feel unnatural especially, if you rear foot dominant. When you have practiced enough, at least a month. Try running as you used to, heal touching the ground first. It will probably feel ackward, if not, you need more practice.

    Also in your shoes imagine running bare feet and you’ll start to run more on toes.

    The (badside?) of this type of running that the muscle tension in low back (not pain) become unbearable. So you need to slow down every 10min or so. Maybe it’s a personal issue and have to say happens not every time.

    Besides that all is great. Try it, hope you like it and remember it takes time to learn and internalize this movement. It’s like learning to walk for the first time.

    A simple test. Stand still on your feet. Then imitate action of falling down forward. Well if your body smart enough the legs will kick in and you’ll start running on toes. This is how is should feel like.

  • Mike

    I am interested in the comment that some people stretch 20 seconds every hour.

    I assume that means they are not warming up beforehand? If not, and the stretching is light, does not warming up impact the effectiveness of the stretch?

    I need to/should be stretching a lot due to very tight muscles, but a 5-10 minute warmup before sessions prevents me from doing so at work. I’d love confirmation that lightly stretching w/o warmup is still effective.

  • I just need to know that if we run or jug barefoot then all the stress will be there on the feet and calves but if we run wearing the sports shoes then the stress will be taken by the shoes and that will in turn help in doing the exercise a little more every time.

  • If talent is innate, does that lessen the impact of coaching? That is, if the best players are naturally talented, is there any point in trying to make the other (number for argument’s sake) 80-90% of players as good as the natural talents?


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