November 14, 2015
Cycle Arm Practice
Last month I posted about the new cycle arms style that I’ve been experimenting with. In that video, I tried to demonstrate the style myself, but it was not a very good rendition. Keare Smith, the athlete that I was working with last summer on the cycle arms style, has started working on it on his own while training in New York City. The clip at the end of this post shows three reps of him going over three 39” hurdles, spaced at regular race distance, moving at the warm-up 5-step pace.
The key thing to look at in regard to identifying the style is the trail arm, or what is traditionally called the trail arm. For Keare, that is his right arm; from the head-on angle of the first two hurdles, that would the arm to the viewer’s left. If you watched my previous video, “Cycle Arms,” where I explained the style in detail, you’ll remember that the trail arm is meant to function in the same way as the lead arm. So, the first thing you’ll want to look for – and it will probably look odd – is that the trail arms cycles down (instead of punching up) as the athlete descends off the hurdle.
In the reps in the clip, you’ll notice, once you develop an eye to look for it, that Keare’s timing is off at some hurdles. The first hurdle of the third rep, in particular, is one where his trail arm goes back to what it would “normally” do (punch up), proving that Keare is still in the process of ingraining the style. At other hurdles, the arm gets a little bit ahead of the legs, throwing off the timing a tad bit.
He’s doing the workout in flats, taking a modified seven-step approach to the first hurdle. As he will want to do when it’s time to come out of the blocks in spikes, he is pumping his arms up and down for the first four strides, before converting to the cycle arms style for the last three strides into the barrier. From there, he continues to cycle his arms between and over the hurdles for the rest of each rep.
Besides the timing issue, the only other issue I’m seeing in these reps is that his trail leg is flatter than we would like. When this style is executed at its most effective, the trail leg is very high and very tight, almost like a lead leg. He’s getting there, but he’s not there yet.
The reason the trail leg will be able to stay tight like a lead leg will be because of the lean. With the cycle arms, the arms are pushing the body forward, creating a lean between the hurdles as well as over the hurdles. The deeper the lean, the easier it is to bring the trail leg through with minimal opening of the groin. With this style, you don’t have to remind yourself to hold your lean coming off the hurdle. The style causes you to maintain your lean naturally. As Keare gets in more reps, all these elements will fall into place.