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A biomechanical framework of the training principles to inform exercise selection within strength and conditioning for sprinting

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posted on 2022-10-13, 16:06 authored by Adam Brazil


An essential component of physical preparation for sprinting is the selection of

effective training exercises, with practitioners balancing the key training principles

of overload and specificity to inform their decisions. However, exercise selection is

often undertaken with little biomechanical underpinning. The aim of this research

was therefore to apply biomechanical analyses and dynamical systems theory to

advance understanding of the training principles of overload and specificity within

exercise selection.

To achieve the overall research aim, the biomechanics of a competitive motor task

(the block start in athletic sprinting) were investigated in detail (Phase 1. Technique

Analysis: Biomechanics) and evaluated against a range of training exercises (Phase

2. Training Principles: Biomechanics Interface) within a sample of national and

international male sprinters. A holistic account of the block start revealed novel

insight to the key joint kinetic determinants of block start performance, and the

emergence of proximal and in-phase extension joint coordination patterns that were

linked to task execution. When evaluating training exercises, specificity in joint

coordination was demonstrated across both traditionally viewed ‘general’ and

‘specific’ exercises. In addition, all exercises were shown to elicit musculoskeletal

overload, although this was shown to be dependent on the biomechanical

determinant of performance and individual athlete.

The current research encouraged a reconceptualisation of the principle of specificity

within exercise selection, by demonstrating that exercise selection should not solely

be based on the replication of a competitive motor task. Instead, exercise selection

must consider how the musculoskeletal determinants of performance are

overloaded, in addition to the replication of task specific coordination patterns. The

work of this thesis successfully developed a framework to facilitate evidence-based

decisions within exercise selection, by embedding biomechanical analyses and the

model of constraints (Newell, 1986), within the principles of training.



  • School of Sport and Health Sciences

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD

Publication year


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