Pronounced inter-limb asymmetry in an international female 400m athlete: A 14-week case study using periodised strength training

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Chris Bishop with Richard Blagrove and Anthony Turner

Evidence-based literature relating to training interventions for international sprint athletes is scarce, which is surprising given the gravitas associated with trying to be the ‘fastest in the world.’ When developing physical qualities for speed, numerous studies have highlighted the importance of strength, power and reactive strength. However, the majority of studies have focused on improving short distance sprint performance (0-40m), most likely because collegiate or team sport athlete samples are used, which frequently require short distances sprints prior to some element of directional change. Although this information is useful (and not disputed), literature pertaining to the physical requirements for competitive international track athletes is rare, arguably due to the limited samples to which coaches may have access. With that in mind, individual case reports offer a viable means of transferring useful information regarding the efficacy of strength and conditioning (S&C) training for international sprint athletes. This case report is about an international female sprint athlete who has represented Great Britain at the 400m since 2017. After competing at the European Indoor Championships in early 2017, she experienced a herniated disc in her lumbar spine (L4-L5) during training, after landing off-balance during a hurdling technique. Consequently, she ran no further competitive races for the remainder of 2017, meaning that the entire outdoor season (April – September) was missed. The athlete underwent physiotherapy treatment from March–September 2017, before being cleared to begin weight room and running training again in October. This report sets out to highlight the training process that was undertaken for this sprint athlete. From a strength perspective, details include: pre-testing (week 1), three training phases (strength endurance, strength, and maximal strength) of four weeks each, and post-testing (week 14) in an attempt to prepare her for the first race of the indoor 2018 season. An overview of her running training throughout the same time frame has also been included to provide greater context of how this training was re-introduced after more than six months of no running.

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