Bobsleigh athlete training
It is impossible to describe the typical bobsledder, so training is bound to differ from one athlete to the next. However, there are some key principles that all bobsleigh athletes will adhere to. The name of the game on the push start is to be fast and powerful to get the sled moving before you load into it. Therefore, the bulk of bobsleigh training is focused on speed and strength
Strength in Bobsleigh
Leg power is a key metric for bobsleigh pushing. When pushing a sled, the athlete’s arms and upper body should be locked in place making the transfer of power from the legs to the sled as efficient as possible. So, provided the upper body of the athlete is able to take that strain, the focus of their training needs to be on leg strength and speed.
Most athletes will have a very strong squat, because this is key to getting the sled off the start line. A sled weighs in excess of 200kg, so being able to move similar weight to that in the gym is a good metric for being able to move the sled on ice. Some teams will require a 200kg squat as an entry standard for all male athletes for example.
Squatting is of course not the only leg workout a bobsleigh athlete will do, and others can be equally as important, but it is a good example of the movement which bobsleigh requires. Again, when supplemented with a stable and efficient core and upper body.
Speed in Bobsleigh
Along with a base strength level, a bobsleigh athlete must have sprinter like speed. When a sled gets moving down the hill it can be reaching speeds of around 30mph by the time the athletes load. For this reason it doesn’t matter how strong an athlete is, if they cant keep up with the sled, and keep propelling it forward, then they are by definition going to slow it down.
Being able to put one’s power into the sled at speed is the crux of what a bobsleigh athlete does. Therefore, sprint training can often take up the bulk of an athletes training time. It is relatively easy to increase strength, as the methods for doing so are well versed and gyms are easy to access. However increasing speed can vary hugely from one athlete to another, depending on many factors like their height, leg length, fast/slow twitch muscle density etc. Therefore, a more tailored, concerted, and ultimately time-consuming approach is required.
Regardless, maintaining a fast set of legs that can keep up and keep contributing to the sled is imperative to training for bobsleigh, complimenting the gym strength a typical bobsledder will be able to run under 11 seconds for 100m with many athletes coming from sprinting and being at or below the 10 second barrier.
Conditioning is also key for bobsleigh. There is a weight limit for an entire sled and its athletes. This can pose a number of challenges, but it means that the athletes need to be able to both fulfil the strength and speed criteria whilst doing all of this at the required weight. It wouldn’t matter if the athlete can meet all of the requirements but weighed 60kg or 150kg as they simply would not work in the sled.
Therefore, most athletes will need to watch their weight, either gaining or losing weight to remain in the acceptable bracket. In a 4-man sled the average weight of an athlete will be 105kg.