The 40-yard dash is considered one of the most famous sprints (and a test of speed and acceleration) in the world. It's a true measure of how quickly an athlete can take off the line and reach top speed.
"It may not seem obvious right away, but the 40-yard dash is one of the most technical foot runs in any sport, including Olympic short sprints," says Bryce Johnston, PCA classical bodybuilding pro and sprint expert, who has a score of 6, 44 scored - second 60-yard sprint in baseball and a 4.42 second 40-yard sprint with 220 pounds in football at Georgia Southern College.
“The reason for this is the short distance of the sprint; Even a small mistake can cost you 0.1 (one tenth) of a second, which can mean the difference between a first or third round pick.” He explains.
A natural born sprinter all his life, Johnston worked with and mentored Rich Lansky, a respected combined prep and Olympic coach, throughout his school days. He developed many techniques that Johnston still uses on his own clients today.
"My sprint times have been made possible by both my natural, God-given foot speed and the methods I'll be using here," he says.
So, let's break it down and get started. Here, Johnston simplifies and focuses on the four main phases of the 40-yard run: launch, acceleration, transition, and sustain (or finish).
te: You don't have to be in the NFL to successfully run the 40-yard dash!
Time to up the speed!
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Sprinting: Every athlete's tool to become powerful and explosive
"Sprinting, along with various plyometric movements and horizontal and vertical jumps, is possibly the most dynamic test of a person's ability to generate power with their lower body muscles," says Johnston.
And while that may be true, Johnston explains that the ability to sprint is a skill that needs to be practiced and doesn't come naturally to a large segment of the population.
"There's a stark difference between sprinting, running or jogging, and that difference lies in the acceleration phase and the ultimate output of energy it takes for the individual to reach top speed," he says.
To simplify, think of sprinting as strength training. A sprint is similar to a maximum effort squat, where you test your ability to physically exert as much force as possible for a short period of time. Compare this to a bodyweight squat or a 30-minute lap on the stair climber.
These exercises require far less nervous system activity and only lead to fatigue after sustained, lower effort and power output. Ultimately, to become a more capable and "explosive" athlete, you must incorporate sprinting alongside your program to raise the force production threshold.
Reach 40 yards speed with Johnston's pro tips
Breathe first: Proper breathing techniques can make or break your sprinting experience.
Johnston's rule of thumb for breathing is to take a lungful of air every 4-6 steps. “That means exiting the line on a full breath before taking your second breath at about the 10 yard mark and only taking 3-5 more conscious breaths the entire 40 yard distance.” He says and explains that this takes practice, so don't stress it out the first day - you'll get there.
First is the beginning. At the start line we take a three-point stance to have a low center of gravity. To determine your starting position, you need to determine your leading leg (dominant/powerful).
- A simple way to test this is to place your feet together and bend forward until you fall. You will naturally step out with your dominant leg to arrest your fall. Just be careful not to fall on your face.
Kneel on the starting line with your lead leg – w that we know your lead leg, kneel leg forward at the starting line.
- Place the knee of your lead leg directly on the line with your toe planted firmly on the turf.
- Then, place your opposite knee level with the front of your front leg toes. (This position will feel like a very cramped kneeling position.) The purpose is to curl up your lower body with potential energy released all at once when you whistle.
hand positioning – The last part of this setup concerns the hands.
- You want to place both thumbs, index and middle fingers just behind the starting line.
- Your hands form a kind of C-shape.
time to start - w that both hands, both feet and both knees are touching the floor, it's time to start.
- First, raise your legs about 45 degrees at a time while shifting 60 percent of your weight onto your hands and tucking your chin in.
- In Step 3, 2, 1, push off your front leg vigorously while stepping with your back leg and powerfully extending the side arm of your front leg toward the sky. You're on your way to the races!
acceleration – This phase starts at the 10 yard mark and lasts until the 20 yard mark.
- For the first 10 yards, the goal is to stay low, make long jumps, and keep your head down.
- Once you've covered 10 meters, begin to stand tall, raise your eye level, and take shorter, faster strides.
Lengthen your stride – You are now halfway through 40. You're almost done with the initial acceleration and are now beginning to lengthen the stride again as inertia propels you forward toward the finish line.
Back to the sprint – From a distance of 20 to 30 meters you are now fully upright. Strides are lengthened to the maximum and arms pump like pistons with every stride.
- You want to continue accelerating; However, most athletes slow down slightly before completing this race.
- Staying loose and fluid will allow you to maintain your speed as much as possible until the end.
The conclusion (sustain phase) – You have now done all the work you need to complete the job.
- Keep your gaze far away, not at the finish line or the cones themselves.
- Keep your steps and arms pumping vigorously and stay upright across the finish line.
- The goal is to run 5 yards instead of slowing past 40 yards. So stay tuned well past the mark before downshifting to slow again and come to a standstill.
- The old adage “finish strong” certainly applies here.
Congratulations, you've now completed a successful 40-yard run!
When sprinting, should everyone have the same shape?
The short answer according to Johnston? . "Like snowflakes, no two people are exactly alike, and the same goes for your sprint form," he explains. However, there are a few things that must always be kept in mind in order to be the fastest runner you can be.
- We run the fastest to the trot: If you're walking on the wrong foot or, even worse, walking from heel to toe, you're missing out on the incredible spring power of your midfoot, your Achilles tendon, and the leverage of the heel's large calcaneus.
TOP: Sometimes jumping rope is an effective way to get off your toes while running and jumping. In addition, the connective tissue of the foot and ankle is strengthened to reduce the risk of injury.
- It depends on the arm swing: Your arms should swing in equal and opposite proportion to your legs. This means that the left leg steps outwards, the right arm pumps forward and vice versa.
TOP: A useful exercise for effective arm movement is to sit with your feet straight and pump your arms as if you're about to sprint while also practicing the important breathing part we discussed earlier. One breath every four to six arm pumps.
Tips to become a better sprinter
Would you like to go faster? Johnston makes it a point that you focus on the first 10 to 20 meters and repeat the steps to achieve optimal acceleration phase. "In addition, performing high box jumps, standing long jumps, and regular jump rope do well to develop the necessary skills and strength required to be as fast as possible," he says, and like everything else in the Fitness brings practice, repetition, proper rest, and recovery closer to your goal.
Avoid this while sprinting
- Don't tiptoe: The natural flat foot or "duckfoot" posture makes it difficult to stay on tiptoe.
- t relaxing when hitting top speed: It's kind of a catch-22. Yes, we want to run hard and fast, but we don't want to sacrifice stride length and fluid movements by clenching our fists, straining our neck, or holding our breath and turning purple.
You can sprint the 40 yard now, let's sprint for the 100 yard
Here are Johnstons pro tips to help you sprint the 100 yard with ease!
w that you've mastered the complex 40-yard run, you might want to try the next most notable short sprint: 100 meters. Fortunately, Johnston explains, despite the 50-yard distance difference, there are many similarities between the two races.
"The biggest change is in the duration of the four phases that were mentioned for the 40." He says "Start, Acceleration, Transition, Sustain.
begin: Your launch remains virtually unchanged, but in some cases you'll have access to a set of starting blocks that act as a push-off device, allowing for an even more powerful first step.
acceleration: Instead of a 10-yard head down stride, extend this to 15 or even 20 yards (meters) to gather as much kinetic energy as possible.
crossing: Next, the transition to the upright sprint continues from 20 to 50 or even the 60 meter mark. Meanwhile, you gain stride length and use your forward drive.
Receive: The last 40 meters now becomes the new sustain phase, which at this distance can be better described as a maintenance phase. Make sure you have a relaxed body, strong arm movements, and long strides with as many quick movements as possible.
TOP: If you feel like you're losing speed, just relax and get back to basics. Toes, arms, controlled breathing. If you put that together, you will succeed.