Effectiveness of Popular Race Walking Drills in Activating Key Muscles

ABSTRACT: “Race walking is a technical event where coaches frequently use event-specific drills to develop their athletes’ strength and movement skills in training. The purpose of this study was to measure the effectiveness of six drills often used by race walkers because of their value in activating key muscles. The muscle activity of eight lower limb muscles was measured using electromyography in 10 young race walkers as they completed the six drills down a biomechanics runway. Two force plates were used to measure contact times and flight times, and the results were compared to the muscle activity recorded during normal (competition-paced) race walking. In general, the drills chosen for analysis achieved greater activation of the key muscles of the gluteus maximus, rectus femoris and vastus lateralis; however, they were not as beneficial with regard to the activity of biceps femoris and tibialis anterior, two muscles that are often injured in race walking. Coaches are advised to ensure that drills used in training are specific to their athletes’ needs and do not inadvertently lead to non-legal technique (e.g., through increased flight time).”


  • Brian Hanley, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in Sport & Exercise Biomechanics in the School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University in Great Britain.
  • Andrew Drake, PhD, is the England Athletics National Coach Mentor for Endurance.

The entire content of this article is included in IAAF publication “New Studies in Athletics” no. 3/4.2016, and will be available in IAAF web site coming soon. For more information about this study you can contact the author Brian Hanley by sending the form below.

Contact Brian Hanley
CATEGORIES: Science, technique & biomechanics | Training