The amount of force utilized during supra-maximal towing with surgical tubing and other devices determines training effectiveness. A force that causes athletes to break form is too much. Force that does not result in faster stride rates and shorter ground contact time is too little. The study below examines these and other factors to provide guidelines for coaches utilizing any sprint-assisted training program.
The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of towing force magnitude on the kinematics of supra-maximal sprinting. Ten high school and college-age track and field athletes (6 men, 4 women) ran 60-m maximal sprints under 5 different conditions: Non-towed, Tow A (2.0% body weight 1⁄2BW ), Tow B (2.8% BW), Tow C (3.8% BW), and Tow D (4.7% BW). Three-dimensional kinematics of a 4-segment model of the right side of the body were collected starting at the 35-m point of the trial using high-speed (250 Hz) optical cameras. Significant differences (p , 0.05) were observed in stride length and horizontal velocity of the center of mass during Tow C and Tow D. For Tow D, a significant increase (p = 0.046) in the distance from the center of mass to the foot at touchdown was also observed. Contact time decreased significantly in all towing conditions (p , 0.01), whereas stride rate increased only slightly (,2.0%) under towed conditions. There were no significant changes in joint or segment angles at touchdown, with the exception of a significant decrease (p = 0.044) in the flexion/extension angle at the hip during the Tow D condition. We conclude that towing force magnitude does influence the kinematics of supra-maximal running and that potentially negative training effects may arise from towing individuals with a force in excess of 3.8% BW. Therefore, we suggest that coaches and practitioners adjust towing force magnitude for each individual and avoid using towing forces in excess of 3.8% of the athlete’s BW.
The ideal “training zone” for supra-maximal towing may vary slightly from one athlete to another. The amount of force applied must be enough to increase stride rate, decrease ground contact time, and avoid altering form and technique. The findings of this study provide a documented guideline for determining the force/body weight ratio for maximum effect.
Clark, DA, Sabick, MB, Pfeiffer, RP, Kuhlman, SM, Knigge, NA, and Shea, KG. 2009. Influence of towing force magnitude on the kinematics of supra-maximal sprinting.
J Strength Cond Res Jul;23(4):1162-8.