Power Testing for Elite Sprinters

The Power testing we utilize at MyPhysio for our athletes uses the Push Band velocity based training device. Whilst it is not a gold standard, the information that we gather is reliable, the testing simple and reproducible and relatively inexpensive, perfect for a Performance Therapy clinic like ours.
The test we use is the Back squat, as we feel this is the most specific for the muscle groups attributable for sprinting speed. Any test is possible, but validity to the sport and experience of the lifter must be taken into consideration when selecting.

After an appropriate warm up and activation sequence, the athlete will be asked to Back squat 3-4 reps as fast as possible a set distance as restricted by the lower arms of the rack to an approximate 1/3 squat (see video).

@jacobdespard in the video is one of Australia’s best sprinters, his effort here at 160kg is incredible, but for those of us that are mere mortals we start lighter and safer.

The starting weight is determined after discussion with the athlete/coach. I usually start at 10% less than their 3RM PR and lower by 10-15kg to the last lift being 20-40kg depending on the athlete, so that in the session they do a total of 5 sets, spaced 5 minutes apart.

In the next example, the athlete had a 3RM back squat of 135 kg so we decided to test him at 120kg, 100kg, 80kg, 60kg and 40kg. The instruction was to move the bar up and down safely but as fast as possible.

The results in the second slide show the trend across the 5 weights for Power. Set 1&2 and 5&6 were repeated at the same weight due to instrumentation issues, but quick observation shows best power levels were achieved in the 60-100kg range.

Breaking down the results individually from 40-80kg in slide 3, we see that the highest power was achieved at 80kg for the Back squat, but best consistency at 60kg. Therefore our initial programming to optimize POWER in this athlete would be 60-80kg for the Back squat.

Whilst there is much more to consider to train specifically for one’s sport, this is a brief overview of how we optimise their power production as Sports Performance therapists.

Sam Leslie

Sam Leslie

Senior Physiotherapist
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