Where Does Speed Come From?

Although I have pondered this question for a long time, trying to determine what factors determine a person’s sprinting speed is driving me crazy. Of course, I’ve heard the old coach’s adage: “Power is Speed”. But there has to be more to it than that. I thought that weight might be a factor, but at a high school meet I was smoked by a big fat lineman in a 200m thrower’s race, and I only weigh 170lb with fairly low bodyfat. Then again, I know some small, skinny guys who are not powerful in the weightroom but are very fast. So I figure some other unknowns must be at work here. Another point to consider: sprinting speed is supposed to be important in the long jump, yet my jumps are equal to or within a few inches of several sprinters who are far faster than me. I do power-type training in the weightroom (snatch, clean) so I figure that my lack of speed was made up for by the power in my jump at the end. Any thoughts?

The answer doesn’t help in terms of improving
anyone’s speed, but, different people are different in speed. Most likely due to muscle fiber type, tendon attachment points (nearer to joint favors speed over force: a small contraction of fibers results in a large movement of the limb), and possibly neurological factors.

You might want to check out Charliefrancis.com. He has a new growing forum of his own. So far Charlie has supplied some very insightful and helpful answers, and as his forum builds up it will probably become the best online source for speed training, if it isn’t already. Also look up Charlie’s articles and Q&A’s on T-mag.

The adage you’re thinking about is Speed is Power, not the other way around. My understanding is that the hamstrings play an important role in speed. However, in your case I think conditioning probably plays a factor. If you ran against a lineman, though he may be carrying extra weight, he has been conditioned to sprint.

louiee simons said if your fast he can make you strong. id disagree with muscle closer to the joint favoring speed over force because WSB guys focus on the lowest tricep head right next to the elbow, as dave tate noted in seminar tape, Big Benchers have this.