Jamaica's Usain Bolt is a natural athlete, but even he needs a workout
designed to maximize his fitness. Here, left, runs to setting a new World
Record in Berlin on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009. Right is United States' Wallace
Spearmon. (AP Photo/Herbert Knosowski)
The fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt, turns 23 on August 21, 2009 and yes, he has always been fast.
His mother jokes that he was born a week and a half late. "The only time in his life he was slow."
- See slides of Usain Bolt
- Read why the World Athletic Championships turned out to be so inspirational
It's up to the running writers to discuss the amazing aerodynamic feat of this 6'6" superman and what makes him a superb runner (he covers the 100m with 40-41 strides compared to competitors 45-48, for instance).
But purely from a fitness point of view, the story is just as fascinating:
2 minute and 5 minute videos - UPDATE: SORRY -THESE VIDEOS WERE REMOVED FROM YOUTUBE - another has been substituted showing him winning the 2009 World Record
- Running wasn't his first love (cricket was)
- His coaches and trainers have always had to focus him on expanding his energy to a wider, more athletic workout than just running
- Though he goes to the gym daily, he told David Letterman (see video below) that he "didn't really" enjoy the weight work -- bench press and squats -- that are so important to his overall routine.
- He lives life at a whirlwind pace that shows he is - after all - a young man who has a life, as well as a gift. Runners World gives us the backstory that after the Letterman interview, Bolt, spent the night out dancing, returning to his hotel at 7 a.m. in time to change for Live with Regis and Kelly.
What does it take for a gifted person to become a champion? Bolt is a perfect example of what we've seen in the past 5-8 years in all sports: a much greater emphasis on cross-training.
In 2006, his manager Norman Peart said that flexibility training was added to the mix, both before and after Bolt's workouts to help "keep him race sharp for a full season."
Now, his workouts also include plyometric and weight training,
Motley Health (also a plyometric workout link on their site) says that typically, core exercises for improving performance over 100m and 200m are:
- Weighted Lunges with heavy dumbbells
- Weighted Squats
- Bunny Hops / box jumps
- Frog Leaps
His coaches, including those at his high school in Jamaica, have always urged Bolt to focus on improving his athletic abilities. The lesson fell on immature ears for the most part, and though his prominence rose, he was plagued by injuries, enamored with fast food and having fun, and relied too heavily on his natural abilities.
According to an interview with the Independent, Bolt gives Glen Mills, who joined him in 2005, much of the credit for developing his talent.
(A very intelligent 1-hour conversation with Mills and Bolt on the Art & Science of Coaching is available at SpeedEndurance.com)
Under Mills, Bolt decided to try to accomplish his full potential, which is where the flexibility training, plyometrics and weight training comes in play along with his running and balance training.
He trains six days a week, and spends an hour a day in the gym, primarily on weight work.
Bolt told Men's Fitness, "As a sprinter, you don't want bulk, but you try to build your muscles,"
What next for this amazing man? It's really the moment to enjoy it all.