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Hurdle Workouts

Article By: Tonie Campbell, Olympian

Acceleration Hurdles

Former World Record holder and two-time Gold medallist, Roger Kingdom gave this drill to me.

1.) To create a second half race "surge" and improve general hurdle strength and competition power.

The Set-up:
The first hurdle is at normal distance from the starting line. The second and the third hurdles are moved in 3 feet (36" inches). The third hurdle is moved in 2 feet (24" inches). The forth is moved in 1 foot (12" inches). The fifth and sixth are normal distance. The seventh is longer by 1 foot (12" inches). The eight and ninth is longer by 2 feet (24" inches). The tenth is longer by 3 feet (36" inches).

As you can see by this layout the athlete has quite a challenge awaiting him. From taking the hurdles quickly to having to accelerate and elongate his stride as the drill proceeds whilst maintaining his rhythm and cadence over the entire span of hurdles.

This drill is exceptionally difficult and only the more advanced athletes can physically and mentally handle it.

Suggested Workout:
This drill can be done at anytime in the late fall through the season but only early in the week when the athlete's legs are fresh and mental alertness is at it's optimum level.

A suggested five attempts per workout would be adequate.

20 Step Drill

This drill is another staple of every hurdler. This particular version is of Mark Crear, Olympic Silver medallist in 1996.

To allow the athlete to concentrate on his hurdling technique and quickness while training over a substantial number of hurdles at a three-step pace.

1.) The drill is great as a complete workout and also as a fast warm-up drill (as opposed to the step drills)
2.) As with the drill, this workout is great for when the athlete is fatigued or tired (flat).

The Set-up:
The hurdles should be set up at 20-22 feet apart at normal height for the athlete. The coach should use his/her discretion as to how many to place. A typical workout for a world class athlete would be eight.

The athlete approaches the drill from either a running start or a block start at about 60% speed. After clearing the first hurdle he/she must accelerate their rate of leg speed in order to continue over the next several hurdles.

Suggested workout:
At typical workout would have four passes over the drill with a timed rest interval of no more than four minutes.

5 Step drill

This is the main stay of every hurdler and coach. This is used to warm up and also can be used as a workout.

1.) To condition the athlete.
2.) To be used as a warm-up.
3.) To re-enforce timing and tempo.

The Set-up:
The hurdles should be placed at normal distance and normal height. The coach should use his own discretion as to how many hurdles to place. This factor should be determined by,

A.) The time of year. Fall workouts or conditioning workouts should build a solid base of hurdle strength for the athlete. The athlete must be able to make a pass over ten hurdles without tiring. Ten hurdles set up is suggested and each workout push the athlete's endurance to the point he is able to make a total of 20 passes over the ten barriers (or 200 individual flights of hurdles).
B.) Spring or competition season. This should be used as a buffer to speed work as well as preferred warm-up drill if the space permits it. As a workout , the hurdles can be set up at normal or less than normal distance and the number of hurdles doesn't matter. During this time of year, the drill is mostly for reconditioning of the slower larger muscles and for rhythm and pace.

Suggested Workout:
A suggested workout would be setting five hurdles up and each athlete makes ten passes (50 individual flights). Concentrating on technique and keeping tall over the hurdles.

Two additional variations of the 5 step drill as a workout exist, Fast Tops and Fast Middles.

Version A - Fast Tops
While the set up is the same in all of the 5 step drill training routines, the athlete in this drill is to only concentrate on his quickness and technique over the "top" of the hurdles. It is very important the athlete learns to accelerate his/her technique whilst in flight. Being able to accelerate during flight will condition the athlete to not rely on making a strategic move or race surge only on the ground. It will also re-enforce the athlete's understanding of the physics, which dictate velocity in hurdling.

The athlete approaching the hurdle will do so at jogging pace. At his/her penultimate step, a hard transition or acceleration must take place. Arms, legs, hips and each motion associated with hurdling become intensified and quick. Upon landing the trial-leg, the exercise is concluded and a jog is resumed for the next three steps.

Version B - Fast Middles
As above the athlete is to break up his rhythm by concentrating on different parts of the race. In Fast Middles, the athlete relaxes over the hurdles while in flight and intensifies his run into the next hurdle once landing his trail-leg, effectively, the opposite of Fast Tops. The benefit of Fast Middles is to teach acceleration in between the hurdles and overcoming rhythm problems during a race. The athlete must concentrate on the pumping of the arms and the driving of the knees while during this drill. However, it is very important that the athlete monitors his rate of acceleration and still fit the prescribed five steps in between each hurdle.

The coach only needs to monitor the technique of the athlete in each of the versions. In early season, it is good to have constant movement between each flight and set of hurdles. A slow jog back to the beginning is recommended and preferred.

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