Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hill Sprints

Eastern North Dakota is pretty flat, but thanks to the mighty Red River and it's usual spring flooding, we do have some nice dikes built up in Grand Forks/East Grand Forks.
I am not sure what the exact grade/slope is of the hill, but I am sure it exceeds the exact % grade of what would be ideal for specific speed development with longer ground contact times (potential for hockey contact times). But, I figure that 1 or 2 strides hit somewhere on the acceleration curve... plus a key factor is intending to sprint up the hill, i.e. motor unit recruitment.

Regardless, I like to sprint hills at least a few times a month. This particular morning, we (Zach, one of our other assistant strength coaches) had some time to play, so we ran hill sprints. We did 10 sets of 3 sprints. Recovery between the 3 sprints was a walk back down. In between sets we recovered 2-3 minutes, which allows for maintain sprint performance... or the much talked about repeat sprint ability (RSA). I was able to finish most reps within 5-5.2 seconds; which kept things within range of high anaerobic work.

The nice thing about hills is you can push the intensity (effort) high with little or less risk of injury as the velocity is less than 0% grade sprinting and the strides are shortened on the front end (decelerating the swing leg; eccentric hamstring load); makes for nice general conditioning for sprint sports. You can also change up the "walk downs"; walking backwards, which creates a nice eccentric stretch of the triceps surae muscle-tendon complex (important to keep healthy and strong for jumping, sprinting, and agility), lateral walks and carioca walks which are can be ok for eccentric load of the hip abductors (another fairly important component found to be weak in our weak culture). Obviously care has to be taken with these walk downs, as the eccentric stress can lead to some multiple day DOMS.

I guess we could debate all the possible intricate details of what may or may not be going on but... hill sprints are just cool and tough; and cool and tough guys did them (Walter and Jerry).
Backwards walk downs...
A few bounds thrown in as well...

A tribute to "Sweetness"...

My hill...
Walter's hill...

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