Sprint Speed - Agility - Explosive Power - Strength - Sports Performance - Elite Fitness

























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The Sprint Ninja Training System

Overview

 

The Sprint Ninja training system is a complete system for the development of sprinting speed as well as physical performance in all its forms. The first and foremost priority of Sprint Ninja is the development and refinement of high level sprinting speed. In addition, the Sprint Ninja training method also facilitates the development of all other fitness components including strength, anaerobic capacity, mobility, aerobic endurance, explosive power etc.

 

Jack of ALL Trades, Master of ONE

 

The Sprint Ninja method works from the centre outwards. It’s not possible for an athlete to develop an elite level of performance in all modes of fitness. One can’t perform at elite times in the 100m sprint as well as the marathon while at the same time logging a world class powerlifting total. However performance is not all or nothing. Pinpoint specialisation is the domain only of the highly specialised athlete during the peak of a competitive season.

The Sprint Ninja training system aims at picking a specialisation as a main focal point. This is where 60-80% of time and effort are spent. Then outside of that developing broad, inclusive fitness in all other domains.

Primary Objective

Sprint Ninja can aid in the development of all areas of fitness and performance, however as a training system there is a specific emphasis on one key area, POWER. Power can be broken down into two areas:

1. Explosive power: This is the power displayed at the start of a sprint as an athlete explodes off the start and rapidly builds speed, or in a shot putter hoisting the shot as far as possible.

2. Power Output: Power output is the ability to perform a task at a near-maximal level of intensity for a prolonged period of up to several minutes. An example would be the ability to sprint a fast 400m time without slowing down significantly, or maintaining a high wattage on a bike for up to a few minutes.

The Sprint Ninja Training Layers

1.       Specialisation: All people, whether elite athlete, soldier, fire fighter or weekend warrior, need a specific, consistent focus. Without specialising, training becomes misguided and random. Training begins by selecting a specialisation. This can be sprinting itself, long-distance running, powerlifting strength or any other highly specific domain. For athletes such as sprinters, shot putters, weightlifters etc, you will spend as much as 80% focusing on this domain. For firefighters, police officers, team sport athletes, general population etc, you will spend as little as 60% of your time on your specialisation. This serves as the foundation from which everything else stems.

2.       Avocation: Stemming out from specialisation is avocation, which encompasses all other components of fitness. The aim here is to develop the broadest range possible of athletic abilities.

The aim of these layers is to develop a specialised focus to provide the opportunity to perform at an elite or at least sub-elite level in one specific area, as well as covering all bases by developing proficiency at all other components of fitness, thus being prepared for anything that comes your way.

 

Adaptability, Accessibility and Improvisation

 

One of the biggest obstacles in the development of fitness and athletic performance is accessibility. This applies to consistent access to the relevant facilities and equipment to follow a training programme. There are many situations we all find ourselves in that prevent us from consistently following a progressive training programme. The Sprint Ninja training system is focused on eliminating this obstacle entirely through adaptability, accessibility and improvisation.

Substitution: Substitution involves using alternative exercises and drills based on available equipment and facilities. For instance substituting in bodyweight exercises when barbells and dumbbells are unavailable.

Improvisation: Improvisation is the ability to turn the world into your gym. Your surrounding environment presents many options for improvised training tools. This ties in with substitution. Improvisation is utilised at a simple level, using whatever is immediately available as a training tool, all the way to more complex improvisation such as constructing one’s own home made training equipment.

Flexibility: Flexibility is the willingness and ability to divert your training where necessary. Where possible, it is recommended to substitute and improvise as closely as possible to your originally planned and programmed training. Flexibility is used when either a) substitution and improvisation is not possible given the circumstances. An example would be where heavy deadlifts might be programmed and there is no close substitution for that in your current environment, or b) where injury prevents the planned training and you need to divert your training to entirely different domains, for example where you may have a twisted ankle and can’t do any running, jumping or sprinting, so instead you work exclusively on upper body strength.

In all circumstances, training can go on. Where available, use all the tools at your disposal, from barbells and dumbbells to running tracks, strongman implements, hurdles etc. When these tools aren’t available you need to have the ability to adapt and substitute. Have a broad range of bodyweight strength drills, plyometrics drills, confined space exercises, buckets, bands, a towel, a tree branch or even using a training partner as a human barbell or sandbag. Sprint Ninja training is built around this adaptability and utilisation of whatever tools are available.

 

Primary Components of Fitness

 

Fitness or performance can be broken down into various components. These are the primary components, the main focus of the Sprint Ninja method. In most cases, one feeds off the other.

Strength: Strength is the ability to apply force. Also applies to the ability to repeatedly produce force, such as with strength-endurance. Examples – A max weight deadlift, max weight squat, the ability to produce a given level of force during crushing grip or max rep push-ups in the case of strength-endurance.

Explosive Power (rate of force development): Explosive power is the ability to apply force at a high velocity. Examples – A vertical jump, explosive lifts such as the power snatch, a heavy throw such as the overhead through or a shot put, overcoming inertia at the start of a sprint.

Speed: Closely linked to explosive power, speed applies to two things; a) the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to contract and produce movement, such as the time it takes to throw a punch or the time it takes the leg to return from the end of a sprint stride to the beginning of the next stride, and b) the combined rate of contracting muscles to produce coordinated movement, such as the overall movement of the legs and arms and the resulting speed the entire body is moving forward during a sprint.

Power Output (also referred to as work capacity or anaerobic capacity): Work capacity in this instance is defined as the ability to perform work at a maximal or near-maximal level for a given length of time. This usually applies to extended max efforts from 20 seconds to several minutes. Examples – Sprinting 400m, rowing as far as possible in one minute, maximum intensity burpees or anything else that involves either a single near-max effort or repeated near-max efforts.

The above components are the primary components of fitness and performance. These serve as the overall foundation for raw physical ability. Everything else stems from here.

 

Training Categories

 

Sprint Ninja training can be broken down into several categories or workout types. All workouts will apply one or more of these categories.

Strength: Barbell lifts, dumbbell training, bodyweight strength training, resistance bands and awkward objects such as strongman training.

Speed and Explosive Power: Sprinting, plyometrics, Olympic lifts, weighted jumps, heavy throws.

Power Output: Anaerobic capacity/work capacity training, long sprints (over 20 seconds), max effort intervals (over 20 seconds). Power output is any training that involves maximal or near-maximal effort for anywhere from 20 seconds to about 3 minutes.

Density: Density training involves performing the maximum amount of work possible into a pre-determined time, or a designated amount of work as fast as possible. Examples – As many reps of an exercise as possible in 10 minutes (squat jumps or push-ups for example) resting as needed while the clock keeps running or combining two exercises under the same circumstances (squat jumps x 5, push-ups x 5 repeated as many times as possible in 10 minutes).

NOTE: These are categories, however not all sessions are focused on just one area to the exclusion of others. Some sessions combine two or more of these training categories.

Components of Performance Development

 

Training and performance can be broken down into several primary demands/adaptations. All training is essentially the pursuit of physiological adaptations, which are the changes/improvements in response to training demands. The body adapts in several ways…

 

Biomechanical: Biomechanics is the science of movement. This refers to the technique used to perform any physical task. Through training, you are conditioning the body to operate with more refined and efficient technique. Using sprinting as the obvious example, working on biomechanics includes refinement of all the finer points of the sprinting stride, body position, arm swing etc. The Sprint Ninja method seeks to refine the biomechanics of every aspect of performance to ensure there is no wasted movement. Highly refined and precise biomechanics provides a significant advantage, even before actual gains in fitness are factored in.

Metabolic/Energy Systems: Energy systems are the systems responsible for the use of different fuels applicable to the task at hand. Effort/intensity determines energy demands. There are three primary energy systems; the ATP/creatine phosphate system, responsible for explosive, maximal intensity activities such as max strength, short duration speed and explosive power. Lactate anaerobic system, responsible for near maximal, high intensity activity longer than 15 seconds up to 3 minutes. Aerobic energy system, a slow burning energy system responsible for lower level activities of a prolonged/indefinite period of time.

All training is structured with metabolic demands in mind. Therefore training is task-specific and aims to produce adaptations for the energy system needed in the finished product, whether that’s explosive movement of 1-2 seconds or repeat high intensity activity of intermittent bursts of 10-20 seconds.

Neural: The nervous system plays a primary role in movement. The nervous system is responsible for all movements from blinking to complex sprinting strides. Training aims to condition the nervous system to the demands of high level performance. Strength, speed and power are particularly dependent on neural adaptations. Strength training teaches a greater number of motor neurons to be activated, thus producing more strength. Power training teaches motor neurons to activate more muscle at a greater rate, thus producing more force at greater velocity. All training impacts the nervous system, however some training is particularly focused on neural adaptations, such as explosive power and maximal strength.

Anatomical/Structural: Take a look at the top athletes in any sport, they are of similar physical structure. Marathon runners are almost always very slim and light, sprinters are lean yet strong and muscular, shot putters are heavily built with a high level of muscle mass. The way a person is built needs to be factored in to most aspects of performance. To produce greater strength one needs greater muscle mass, to move quickly an athlete needs to be lean and not too heavy etc. Training and diet has to factor this in. For the most part, structural changes are catered for through performance-based training. However a certain amount of anatomy specific training should be done, such as muscle hypertrophy.

 

Programming Structure

 

Sprint Ninja applies a flexible programming structure, in that training is quickly adaptable to changing demands and circumstances. Training is constructed using a simple set of programming principles:

Consistency: Training must be consistent in order to produce training adaptations. Consistency applies to consistency of training as a whole, meaning regular training sessions, as well as consistency of training modalities. There is little gain in engaging in power training if you’re not regularly training power.

Progression: The goal of training is to produce physical adaptations. This means gradual progression/improvement. Every single training session is conducted with the goal of progression and improvement.

Measurement: It’s impossible to know if you have progressed without measuring results. Many programmes seek to measure intermittently at intervals of several weeks or months. The issue there is that it’s almost impossible to know if training is on the right track and producing desired results. Sprint Ninja builds tests and challenges into the training. This is conducted through a) regular personal fitness testing, b) keeping a loose record of performance of workouts themselves, c) challenges against others, whether it’s serious competition or informal workout challenges.

Adaptability: Training should be adaptable in order to be consistent. A rigid programme can be easily derailed by injury or access to equipment/facilities. Sprint Ninja makes use of substitutions. The aim is to be able to develop any component of fitness and performance with any equipment or lack thereof available. The world is your gym.

Specificity: In order to develop specific abilities you need to train in a way that is specific to those demands. The best way to improve sprinting speed is through sprinting, the best way to develop jumping power is through actually jumping. Everything stems from this fact.

Broadness: Contrary to specificity, broadness aims to add a component of training that seeks to develop a broad range of ability. As a general rule, an average programme is 75% specific to a given aim and 25% focused on all other physical demands.

Training Phases

 

In addition to the above basic principles of programming, training can be broken down into phases. Each phase can be conducted as mini-phases or larger phases for the more specific and serious athlete.

Foundation Phase: Broad conditioning focused on building a foundation of fitness from which more specific skills can be built.

Development Phase: Refinement of specific themes. For the sprinter for instance this applies to the broad development of sprint speed over distances and durations either side of the specific distance being trained for. It also still includes a large amount broad foundation development and auxiliary training.

Specific Phase: This applies to the refinement of specific skills and a 90% plus focus on a specific aim. If the 200m sprint is the aim then training is 90% focused on improving 200m sprint times, from physiological to skill-based demands.

 

Conclusion

 

Sprint Ninja is a system for the development of high performance athletic ability and applying those principles to everyone from the weekend warrior to the elite athlete. Training is adaptable and flexible with a structured approach. The primary aim is the development of sprint speed and stems out from there with the development of all physical capabilities. The system can be adapted to anyone from an average Joe with broad fitness goals to a specific, elite athlete.

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