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What muscles do you use launching yourself out of a start gate?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi all

I've been trying to figure out what upper body muscles are used in a racing start... the triceps are obviously involved and I think the lats too  - but what muscle rotates the arm downwards and behind you?

In short, what muscles should I train up to be able to explode out of the start before falling flat on my face?

Ta

CC
post #2 of 15
Posterior deltoids?
post #3 of 15
Abs.

JF
post #4 of 15
powerful extension of the hips
post #5 of 15
I wondering the same thing, back in college when I was trying to shave off some tenths, so I consulted the nordic team about how they train for sprints. The triceps, apparently, don't do much. It is the back muscles that supply most of the power. If you find a nordi, they can show you lots of exercises that build power for poling.

Of course, make sure your technique is something that you are really happy with before you start trying to improve your start this way. A small tweak either to your launch or how you skate up to speed can make a big difference, whereas incremental power increases will certainly help - but not as much. If you can put a split timer at the first gate when you are training, and then try some different techniques out of the start, you might find some styles suit you better than others. Watching the WC, you can see that different skiers with different body types have much different ways for launching out of the gate - and they surely have their reasons.
Incidentally, I have always been puzzled about how little racers work on their starts. There is a lot of time hiding there, so you are already on the right track.

But yeah, back muscles. Find yourself a nordi!
post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ausgeschieden View Post

I wondering the same thing, back in college when I was trying to shave off some tenths, so I consulted the nordic team about how they train for sprints. The triceps, apparently, don't do much. It is the back muscles that supply most of the power. If you find a nordi, they can show you lots of exercises that build power for poling.

 

Widen your survey a bit, and you'll find a good number of nordic skiers who can show you how their triceps to contribute significantly to strong poling.  A knowledgeable coach will also be able to show you the elements of nordic technique that translate well to alpine applications.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ausgeschieden View Post

If you can put a split timer at the first gate when you are training, and then try some different techniques out of the start, you might find some styles suit you better than others. Watching the WC, you can see that different skiers with different body types have much different ways for launching out of the gate - and they surely have their reasons.
Incidentally, I have always been puzzled about how little racers work on their starts. There is a lot of time hiding there, so you are already on the right track.

 

Again, widen your survey a bit and you'll find lots of racers who do in fact work on starts, because starts are important.  Timing from the start wand to the first gate, just as you've described, is a widely used measurement for tracking start effectiveness.  Start wand to second gate is another widely used variation.


For the OP, all muscles are important to a good start.  A strong core (and that means front and back), strong shoulders and arms for a good push with poles, and explosive power in the legs to get out of the gate fast.  Skating exercises with poles are great to work on the fitness elements of starts.
post #7 of 15
I'm a fan of training movements vs muscles as very few muscles ever work in isolation.  You need both power and strength for the start, and as loboskis pointed out, it's not just upper body as explosive hip extension is a big part.  Arguably this is a full body power movement. You're pulling with the arms/upper back; while pushing from the legs. That means you need a stable core to maximize energy transfer.

I'd want to see squats, Romanian deadlifts or Kettlebell swings, cable rows and/or pullups and some anterior core stuff (planks maybe) for strength work, and definitely power stuff too - cleans or snatches are great for training triple extension  (ankles/knees/hips), and possibly some med ball throws or explosive inverted rows. 

Elsbeth
post #8 of 15
I don't know what the muscles are, but you want to be able to thrust with your arms and once you begin skating take long, strong skate strokes along with poling strokes. Emphasis on strong and long. Quick, short strokes are ineffective. Watching nordic skate skiers and WC starts will let you know how you should skate. Knowing when to stop skating and start skiing is key as well. You have to feel that you are actually pushing and gaining, not just going through the motions.

I agree that there isn't enough practice in the start. I train starts frequently with my speed camp athletes using video and splits. Just practicing your skating on the flats will help. It is a matter of practice and making it automatic.
post #9 of 15
@ mogulmuncher: I certainly don't mean to imply that triceps aren't needed, but in terms of power,  you start getting diminishing marginal returns pretty quickly. Basically, the nordis I talked to told me stop working on my triceps and focus on my back (but I kinda ignored them - I like triceps). Perhaps different nordis will tell you differently, but I noticed that past a certain point, increased tricep strength wasn't making me any quicker out of the gate.
Also, I didn't mention this but everyone else has, all the explosive strength in the world won't help if you cant channel that power through your core.

As for my sample size - unless they do it better outside the US (which is quite possible), I stand by my previous assertion that racers ignore their starts entirely too much. Out of the 1000+ days that I have trained gates, with many coaches and a variety of programs, there have probably been less than 10 days that focused on starts, and less than 3 that involved serious analysis of start technique. However, wireless timing systems are somewhat more prevalent now then they were when I was coming up (I stopped racing seriously in 2007), so hopefully putting splits at the start is becoming more common.

An exception to this rule is when I would get random chances to train with national team coaches -  where nearly every course had splits at the first or second gate and people actually paid attention. It was one of these sessions that made it clear to me that the 15 pt skier who had been getting me by 0.3 per run, was getting two of those tenths by the second gate. You can bet that motivated me to start working on my starts more.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ausgeschieden View Post

... but I noticed that past a certain point, increased tricep strength wasn't making me any quicker out of the gate.
Also, I didn't mention this but everyone else has, all the explosive strength in the world won't help if you cant channel that power through your core.

 

What exactly are you doing for tricep strength?  It sounds like you want that one key strength feature that will put this all together for you.

And you also hit on a key issue.  Strength could well be secondary to technique (speed).  That's why being around good coaching improved your start.
post #11 of 15
post #12 of 15
We have one of those at the gym and it is perfect for training a gate start, as long as it's done in balance with general physical preparedness.  It crushes triceps and core.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by evaino View Post

I'm a fan of training movements vs muscles as very few muscles ever work in isolation.  You need both power and strength for the start, and as loboskis pointed out, it's not just upper body as explosive hip extension is a big part.  Arguably this is a full body power movement. You're pulling with the arms/upper back; while pushing from the legs. That means you need a stable core to maximize energy transfer.

I'd want to see squats, Romanian deadlifts or Kettlebell swings, cable rows and/or pullups and some anterior core stuff (planks maybe) for strength work, and definitely power stuff too - cleans or snatches are great for training triple extension  (ankles/knees/hips), and possibly some med ball throws or explosive inverted rows. 

Elsbeth


Pretty much nailed it. 

Clean/Snatch will give you your biggest bang for your buck. 

I would add unilateral leg work in as well. 
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ausgeschieden View Post

I certainly don't mean to imply that triceps aren't needed, but in terms of power,  you start getting diminishing marginal returns pretty quickly. Basically, the nordis I talked to told me stop working on my triceps and focus on my back (but I kinda ignored them - I like triceps). Perhaps different nordis will tell you differently, but I noticed that past a certain point, increased tricep strength wasn't making me any quicker out of the gate.

 

Okay, this seems clearer, and I would agree that without a strong core, really strong arms alone won't give you what you're looking for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ausgeschieden View Post

Out of the 1000+ days that I have trained gates, with many coaches and a variety of programs, there have probably been less than 10 days that focused on starts, and less than 3 that involved serious analysis of start technique. However, wireless timing systems are somewhat more prevalent now then they were when I was coming up (I stopped racing seriously in 2007), so hopefully putting splits at the start is becoming more common.

 

At the Canadian K2 Nationals this year, I noticed quite a few kids (boys & girls) who definitely needed way more work on their starts, so there are clearly racers out there who aren't getting the practice & coaching they need in that area.  I didn't think start training was that uncommon though, but there's always lots of room for regional differences.

I pay a lot of attention to starts because (as you have also learned for yourself) they are really important.  I also find starts an easy area to coach to get meaningful improvements.  I just use a stopwatch for timing, and I find that a +/- 0.25 second tolerance is close enough that it is still beneficial.
post #15 of 15
 Didn't read all the responses, but don't neglect the role of the legs.  They're the main contributors to the raising of the Center of Mass during a kick start.  The entire process is one more of timing and coordinated movement, than of sheer brawn.  The strongest guys in the world will look like a bull on roller skates if they don't know how it's done.  Then once out of the starting gate the legs are again a primary power source as you skate towards and around the first gate.  
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