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Over speed Training: What is the optimal slope?

by Taylor Tollison

Speed training consists of:: your classic flat ground training, resistance speed training, and over speed training. This article will focus on the later, primarily what the optimal slope is for over speed training.

First of all, even overspeed training comes in different types. Athletes can use: pulley mechanisms, bungee cords, partner pulls and downhill runs. When doing overspeed training ensure that you do not speed up training velocity so much that you are stumbling and bumbling all around the field like a clown. You can get injured. So if you will do it, do it right. Since most people may not have bungee cords, or pulley systems for over speed training lets talk hills. You don't need massive mountains like we have here in Utah. You just need minor slopes (I emphasize minor, remember the clown. You don't want to be him).

How big should the slope be? Some resources have shown that a 3 degree grade is optimal. But in a study done in 2008 they tested college age athletes by having them run 40 yards sprints on downhill slopes of varying degrees. The results showed that hills of about 5.8 degrees were optimal. Sprinting on a slope of 5.8 degree increased the athlete's max speed by an average of .35s. (1)

This study did call into question the 3 degrees recommendation of some resources.(1) Performing overspeed training must be done carefully. And while this study did show that 5.8 degrees is optimal, please keep in mind that it was done on college age athletes who can potentially handle more velocity and hold their technique better than their younger counterparts. If you are a young athlete or any athlete for that matter choose this training carefully. You may find that 5.8 degrees is still too much for you, in which case 3-4 degrees may be the optimal slope for you.

 My personal recommendation is that if your technique is altered because the slope is too extensive, you have chosen poorly and make the switch to a smaller slope.