Built For Speed: The Body Of The World’s Fastest Man
Built For Speed: The Body Of The World’s Fastest Man
Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. There is almost no contest.
The 9-time Olympic gold medalist can run 100 meters in under 10 seconds, for Pete’s sake (9.58 seconds) to be exact. Couple that with his rather large frame at 6 feet, 5 inches, Bolt’s speed is even more impressive considering that tall sprinters seem to be naturally slower than shorter ones.[caption id="attachment_24191" align="alignnone" width="2912"] Bolt's speed is way beyond his peers that it's almost comical how hard they try to catch up to him. (c) Cameron Spencer, Getty Images[/caption]
But what is it exactly that makes Bolt worthy of his name and de facto title? As it turns out, his body is basically perfect for sprinting, according to science.
Prologue: Deconstructing The World Record
Bolt set the current world record with a 9.58 100-meter dash at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. Since then, it’s never been beaten, not even during his own Olympic stints. Decades ago, a sub-9.6 100-meter dash performance is almost mythical; even impossible. But Bolt made it possible due to the amount of force his body can put out in very little time.
At 6-foot-5, Bolt needs to exert more effort to reach a ridiculous top speed of 27.8 mph. That’s an insane 12.2 meters (40 feet) per second. Achieving this required two things. First is his reaction time: Bolt’s feet strikes the ground at maximum power less than one second into the race. This amount of power is enough to propel him at actually half his eventual top speed, which makes the record even more impressive.
Second is the force his body exerts in a short amount of time. There are no official measurements for the force his body generated during the record-setting run, but there are a few benchmarks. Looking at his run during the 2011 World Championships, scientists discovered that Bolt’s legs exerted an average of 1,000 pounds of force when striking the track. That’s about five times his body weight. This force, combined by the speed at which he struck the ground, propelled Bolt to a feat of speed previously thought impossible for human sprinters.
A Mechanical Juggernaut
Tall sprinters usually are slower than their shorter counterparts. But to his credit, Bolt is a freak of nature. Most of his competitors stand at around 6-2 and weigh just the same. By popular belief, the shorter, stockier guys’ limbs won’t need to cover too much space to complete a motion, thereby making them faster. Shorter limbs mean less ground to cover, basically.[caption id="attachment_24193" align="alignnone" width="4355"] (c) CharlieFrancis.com[/caption]
Not with tall, lean sprinters like Bolt, however. Professor Alan Neville of the University of Wolverhampton states taller athletes may have a speed advantage due to increased skin surface area. This means that they dissipate heat more efficiently, allowing for their muscles to work at full tilt for longer. Not to mention, they have longer strides.
Notice that in the past, almost no sprinter is as tall as Usain Bolt. They tend to have bulky bodies and have less skin surface area, which doesn’t let their powerful muscles cool down quick enough. Compared to Bolt, they might be able to exert as much power as he does, but they couldn’t maintain it long enough.
Bolt also likely has a lot more of the so-called fast twitch muscle fibers compared to the average human. Fast twitch muscle fibers are quick to contract and wear out. These muscles give an athlete the necessary “explosion” they need to run fast or change directions quickly in under a second. Sprint training hones these fast twitch fibers for a more powerful burst off the blocks, which likely helps Bolt reach top speed at a short time and maintain it longer than his rivals.
Going Even Faster?
It is scientifically impossible to run 100 meters in under 9 seconds. In fact, it is also physically impossible for a human to be that fast. Humans are endurance runners, not sprinters. We can never outrun a cheetah in a sprint, but we can leave it in the dust in a marathon. To clock at most a 9 flat in the hundred-meter dash, a racer will need to exert six to seven times their body weight in force just to even have the chance. The human body is not built to withstand that kind of stress.
Until that 9.58 record is beaten, Usain Bolt will remain the fastest man to ever live. But hey, perhaps you can come close. With the right training, experience, gear, and focus, you definitely can.
Speaking of gear and focus, perhaps we have something that might be up your alley. If you want to go faster, you need intense concentration on your technique. And you won’t be able to focus during your sprint if you have to deal with the sun in your eyes. This is where the Sorrento Trainer sunglasses comes in.
The Trainer is built for those who want to go hard and fast. With polarized lenses, you won’t have to deal with the glare taking away your concentration on the track. Also, its super flexible ResiFlex TR90 frames are virtually unbreakable, flexing and twisting to suit your high octane, max intensity sport. Get your own pair from Zalora or Lazada today!