David Neville On The Importance Of Weightlifting And Drills

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David Neville is an American sprinter specializing in the 400m. He has won two Olympic medals including the Olympic gold medal with the Olympic record-setting 4x400m team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This writeup is from an interview with FloTrack back in 2013. 

The Benefits Of Lifting Weights Before Running

Talk about your daily practice routine...

"So for us, we lift weights . . . from about 7:30 AM to about 9 AM. Then after that, we go to the track, run our workout, and that can be really hard on some people, but I've found that it helps me out a lot when I'm running my races -- especially when I'm running races that require rounds, whether it be national championships, worlds, or Olympics. We run rounds a lot and by that time we've tapered off, we're no longer lifting, but our bodies are used to being under that kind of pressure and loaded up. Our arms really heavy or legs really heavy, and because we've trained in that way where we've run after lifting heavy weights we're used to it so we're able to handle that kind of pressure."

The Importance Of Explosive Exercise 

"For me, what I found out when I'm in the weight room (is that) it's really important for me to make sure that I'm doing some explosive lifts. With the explosive lift is what I mean is like (a) clean. We do a lot of cleans in the gym to make sure we get that explosion to help us come out of the blocks, get around the track, and make sure your hips are moving. I've also found what is really important is the kind of lifts that you do or the kind of exercises that you do (that) focus on your core, stability, knowledge, (and) awareness of what you're doing with it. It's really important anybody -- it doesn't' matter if you're a track and field athlete or if you're someone who just goes out and jogs on the weekend. You want to make sure that you're holding your core stable. This will help protect you from a lot of injuries; this will also give you more explosion help you be able to lift more and get you excited about keeping that body together and healthy and protect that spin as well."

Kinds Of Core Exercises

What core exercises most important to you? 

"I do a lot of leg lifts, whether they are hanging leg lifts, knee lifts, or knee raises. I also do a lot of just different strength exercises whether it be sit-ups, Russian twists, different stability ball passes, between my legs and my hands. I'm just trying to keep my core as tight and as solid as possible. These are important for any athlete." 

Philosophy On Drills And Training

We've seen athletes do a thousand different drills, running drills, speed drills, form drills -- however you want to categorize them. What is your philosophy on drills? 

"For me with doing drills, I think it's important you find the drills that coordinate with the exercise you're doing. You may be a javelin thrower or you're are a sprinter or hurdler, you want to do drills that use the same technique and the form that you're going to be using as an athlete, as you're running and competing.  Whether that be high knees, A skips, B skips, you want to make sure that those drills are going to be used the way that you use when you're going to run. Another big thing: make sure you're using your arms. A lot of people do drills and their arms just stay still and they hardly use them. When you run, you use your arms. Make sure in any warmup you do you use your whole body."

So in your drill routine you do three drills only? Why? 

"Yeah, we do three drills. Well, we do, A skip, B skip, and high knees, and we've found that those drills are the kinds of drills you use when you run. That's the form that you use when you run. So when I'm running, I'm making sure that I get my knees up, I get my feet to the ground, so when I'm doing my A skip I'm driving them down but I'm also working on getting the knees and the elbows back. Then when I do my B skip I make sure I step up and out, you want to stick that foot out in front so that you can clear some distance but also get a nice snap down onto the ground. So for us, those are the drills we use. I'm sure that there are other drills that can coordinate just as well to the running, but these are the ones we've found to simplify it and it works for us."