Ah, research. When I was a much younger Performance Coach, I used to spend my Sunday morning’s reading 1 speed and 1 strength-based research article. Over the course of the year that adds up 104 different articles (you like that math?). Now, personally I have a business based background with a concentration in statistical analysis so I have always been a research geek, but what I found the most enjoyable in the learning process was that there is so much research available, that you can literally learn about anything you want. So when Parisi All-Access came to be, I figured it would be fun to keep the research reading going and bring two fresh research articles to the All-Access crew. If you stick with it, that will be 24 research articles added to your coaching arsenal each year!
Here’s how these research reviews are going to break down. I am going to read the research and summarize the contents into 3 parts.
Part 1: What we know.
This is going to explain what the research was looking to study, how they studied it, and why you should care.
Part 2: Any comments or concerns about what the study is showing?
Sometimes the best research study looks so good on paper, but then when you dive in you see that it was done on olympic athletes, or was sponsored by a specific company, or something else that can throw a major red flag on its effectiveness in practical use. Alas, that is what we are for here at Parisi HQ
Part 3: How can I use this?
This part is going to explain practical applications of the research. Typically research is lab based and can be hard to replicate when you’re a Performance Coach on a budget. I’m going to do my best to break down how you can actually apply this research to you coaching
Here’s the article of note, in MLA citation format for you grammar nerds out there…
Morin, Jean-Benoît, George Petrakos, Pedro Jiménez-Reyes, Scott R. Brown, Pierre Samozino, and Matt R. Cross. “Very-Heavy Sled Training for Improving Horizontal-Force Output in Soccer Players”. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 12.6 (2017): 840-844. < https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2016-0444>. Web. 5 Sep. 2023.
I’m a HUGE fan of JB Morin’s work, so I totally chose this one because of the author.
What we know…
16 amateur male soccer players trained twice a week for 8 weeks (16 total sessions) using sled loads of 80% of their bodyweight. At the end of the training/testing period, the group using the weighted sled sprints out performed the control group (aka the group that didn’t use any resistance) in horizontal force as well as improved sprint times in 5 meter and 20 meter performance.
Any comments or concerns?
The one thing that always jumps out at me when we talk about added load with athlete’s is how strong they are relative to their body. These are amateur soccer players, so we can assume that they are older, probably college aged or in their young 20s and have some base of strength, but we are unsure. I wish there was some type of strength prequalification for athletes when they started this study.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know each athlete in the study could do 8 chin ups? Yeah it would be.
I think it’s a fair assumption that an athlete with greater relative body strength – say number of chin ups performed- would reap the rewards of resisted sprint training more so than an athlete that had lower strength levels relative to their size and dimensions.
My last comment is that I LOVE that this group tested 5 meter and 20 meter performance. For many coaches working in a private facility, space can be a premium. Knowing this application has carryover to shorter 5 meter distances is awesome.
How can I use this?
I think this study is a great start in showing that heavy resistance speed training isn’t as bad as the industry used to think. I know for me, I was always a ‘light and fast’ guy when it came to my speed programming, however the mechanical responses shown in this study is very important to consider.
From a Coaches perspective, I think we just need to temper our expectations when we use a variety of applications with our athletes. In this instance, a heavy sled is going to yield in greater time on the ground, but lead to a mechanical improvement. It’s definitely a give and take situation, but if you are looking to specifically improve your athletes horizontal propulsion and/or their front side form, this could be a great application.
I would probably start implementing this in the following format
Week 1: 3 x 5 meter sprint @ 80% bodyweight load
Week 2: 4 x 5 meter sprint @ 80% bodyweight load
Week 3: 5 x 5 meter sprint @ 80% bodyweight load
Week 4: 6 x 5 meter sprint @ 80% bodyweight load
I’d also probably program rest at a 1:20 ratio or 2 minutes, whichever was greater.
The author does state more research would be helpful – most articles say this…- so that tells me that there is going to be some subjectivity to monitor as it relates to the individual conditioning of each athlete you train.