High Octane Training : Unlocking Your Athletic Potential

Think you have what it takes to make it in the world of elite sports? Talent and ability are essential, but they only get you so far. At the highest levels, being good isn’t enough—you have to be exceptional. So, how do you get there? By learning from the best coaches and implementing advanced training strategies.

In this article, we’ll cover crucial aspects of high-performance training, including effective ab training, the myth of pre-competition max lifts, the value of Olympic weightlifting for athletes, improving stride frequency, and more. These insights are tailored to help high school and college athletes elevate their game.

Effective Ab Training and Managing Hip Flexor Tightness

Many experts recommend training lower abs, obliques, then upper abs in that order. However, Charlie Francis suggests a different approach. For his athletes, ab training is endurance-based rather than power-focused, utilizing a circuit-based method that alternates muscle groups instead of repeating sets on the same muscle group.

For lower-ab training, it’s challenging to avoid engaging the hip flexors, and there’s no reason to avoid it. Instead, incorporate a good stretching routine at the end of your training sessions to address flexibility issues. Most athletes are diligent about stretching their hamstrings but often neglect their hip flexors. A good stretch involves lying on your side, drawing one knee forward, and pulling the ankle of the other leg back and up behind you. This ensures a good stretch without over-arching the back.

Debunking the Three-Rep Max Squat Myth

A common misconception is that sprinter Ben Johnson performed a three-rep max squat just before breaking the world record. In reality, Ben never performed max lifts before a race. Instead, he always lifted weights after speed work, never before. His heaviest squat workout consisted of two sets of six reps at 600 pounds, past parallel. Safety and effectiveness were prioritized over chasing maximum numbers.

The Role of Olympic Weightlifting for Athletes

The time spent perfecting full Olympic lifts can be debated. For athletes, particularly throwers, simpler multi-joint lifts that increase bar speed during the conversion phase might offer similar benefits. Olympic lifts are chosen to engage as many muscles as possible in a single lift, maximizing stimulation with minimal lifts. However, if learning time is a factor, focusing on perfecting specific skills and sticking to simpler lifts can be more effective.

Enhancing Stride Frequency for Greater Speed

Improving stride frequency is crucial for sprinters. Many believe that only stride length can be improved, but both elements are trainable. As strength and elasticity improve, sprinters can better resist decelerative contact forces, maintaining higher turnover rates. Ben Johnson’s stride count remained constant over the years, but his frequency and stride length improved due to increased strength and efficiency.

Relaxation is key to improving stride frequency. It allows for a faster and more complete shutdown of antagonist muscles, quickening alternation cycles and permitting more force to be delivered with less energy consumption. Drills such as “quick leg drills” enhance frequency, while bounding and hopping drills develop maximum stride length. A holistic approach to training, developing acceleration first, then maximum speed, and finally speed endurance, is essential.

Detailed Ab Training Routine

A common question among athletes is the specifics of an effective ab routine. For sprinters, Charlie Francis recommends a high-repetition approach. Typically, athletes perform 500 reps on three speed days after speed work and 1000 reps on three slower running days, totaling 4500 reps per week on average. This approach ensures comprehensive and effective ab training.


High-performance training involves more than just hard work; it requires strategic, intelligent training. Whether focusing on speed, strength, or mental preparation, applying these expert tips can help you reach your peak performance. Consistency, quality, and proper recovery are key. Stick to these principles, and you’ll be on your way to achieving your athletic goals. Stay dedicated, stay focused, and keep pushing your limits. Your hard work will pay off!