Hello ExRx Forum,Strong Calves
I've been using ExRx for about five years, and recommend the "common muscular weaknesses/common postural deficiencies" to everyone. I'm 50, work out once a week, trying to maintain bodyweight and increase squat, and have been lifting off and on since I was fourteen. I have a son, and this is about him
My son has turned thirteen, so we did a short "intro to weightlifting". We concluded that, and I'm now doing an "intro to running" with him. Mostly it is about teaching that exercise is fun and a healthy habit, and it is also about me trying to gauge what is easy and difficult for him. He is big for his age -- 5'9" and about 150 (I am 5'11" and 160). One of his issues that he complains about is being a slow runner.
On the weightlifting we did only 5 lifts (leg press, bench, calf raise, pulldown, back extension, and he did some cardio rowing for warmup/down) -- I noticed immediately that he had real difficulty with the calf raise, whereas leg press (squats being too technical for a 13 year old novice) seemed fine and plenty strong considering his youth. Dorsiflexion is difficult for him. In running, he has poor acceleration from a standstill, no "bounce", leads with his upper body.
I am looking for technical info about calves -- I think this is a big problem for him. First question: Am I right, or full of it? Do strong calves help running, and in particular, quickness and foot speed? If so, (second question) how should they be worked?
Strengthening the calves isn't going to increase his speed.
Strength is the Foundation of Power and Speed
That means initially with someone who's you son's age (novice and intermediates) increasing strength will increase power and speed.
One of the best movements for developing strength out of the blocks for a sprinter is the deadlift. It increases the muscles involved.
However, to effectively increase power and speed some explosive movements need to be employed.
Some of the highest power outputs measured in sports are Olympic movement. Power outputs of over 52 watts per kilo of body weight. (52 watts per kilo is a huge number)
Research shows that Power Cleans are one of the most effective movement in developing explosive power.
Olympic lifter have demonstrated more explosive power out of the blocks and speed in the first 25 meters than track sprinters.
Increasing Acceleration From A Stand Still
To increasing your son's "Starting-Strength" and "Acceleration-Strength" you need to employ explosive movements.
The most effective exercises for doing that are Olympic pulls.
"Athletes and the Olympic Lifts"
http://drsquat.com/content/knowledge-ba ... mpic-lifts
Dr Fred Hatfield's article above goes more into the use of Olympic movements as a means of increasing power and speed.
A good introductory exercise to power is the kettlebell swing. Kettlebell swings have been shown to be an effective method of increasing power and speed.
They are a simple movement with virtually no learning curve compared to Olympic pulls. With that said, you son should at least start learning Olympic pulls.
The downside to performing kettlebell swings is you usually need a varity of sized kettlebells.
Another altranate is...
The Home Made Hungarian Core Blaster
The Hungarian Core Blaster is a cheap, effective method of performing "kettlebell swings".
You can make it for about $20 by going to Lowes or Home Depot.
It allows you to increase the load (weight) as you like.