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The Benefits of Parachute Running on Sprint Speed

Daniel Brady | February 17, 2013 in Sport
Parachute Running

Parachute running sure looks beneficial as a running training tool, so in this article we review whether or not it is effective, and by exactly how much. Our personal choice of running parachute is the SKLZ Speed Resistance Training Parachute @ Amazon, which has good reviews and is well priced at $20. Now let’s check the evidence.

Study 1: 50m Sprints with Parachute Resistance

The first study is of experienced athletes who trained 3 times per week for 4 weeks with a large parachute and spiked shoes doing 50 meter sprints.[1] After 4 weeks, the resisted group improved their 0-20m speed by 3.3% compared to the unresisted group who improved by 1.8%. For the 20-50m distance, both groups stayed the same speed after the 4 weeks.

So this study shows that parachute training is particularly useful in improving acceleration out of the blocks. This makes parachute training not only useful for track running, but also for sports like soccer where you have to change direction and re-accelerate often. The study recommends choosing a parachute size that reduces your running speed by 10% or less to avoid negatively effecting running technique. In this study they found that a large parachute was most suitable.

Study 2: Incline Treadmill versus Ground Resistance Training

This study found both incline treadmill and ground resistance training to be effective in increasing start acceleration from 0-9.1m. The incline treadmill resulted in a 5.4% increase in speed, compared to 2.9% from ground resistance training.[2] The treadmill training consisted of pyramiding incline and speed up to 8mph and 20% incline in the first week and 14mph with 20% incline by the sixth week. The ground resistance training used resistance bands and subjective resistance levels of low, medium and high. So this study found that very steep hill running improves acceleration dramatically, while band resistance improves acceleration moderately. An advanced treadmill that can do speeds and inclines that high is hard to find, so a better alternative may be parachute running up hills.

What Results Can I Expect?

After 1 month of parachute training, you can expect to cut your sprint time by 0.05-0.1 seconds all from the first 20m of the sprint. If your 100 meter time is already 11.00 seconds, and you can cut it to 10.90 seconds within 1 month, that’s a good improvement for only a $20 investment for a parachute. It’s enough to make you a stronger competitor. If you were 1 stride behind your competitor in the 100 meters before training, you could be right next to him or even ahead after a month of training. Not bad!

Photo Finish

Daniel has a strong interest in evidence supported fitness training, preparation and supplementation. His goal is to provide clear information that simply works. He's currently 16 kg of muscle above his starting weight (7kg in the past 12 months), and targeting a continued growth rate of 5kg+ per year.
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