Why Usain Bolt is So Fast

Exercise physiologist Michael Olzinski proposes that the master runner's secret weapon is not what you think.

Mr. Usain Bolt is unarguably the world’s fastest man. He has been recorded running 100 meters in 41 strides and 9.58 seconds. The secret? His body is balanced.

If one of those 41 strides at maximum effort was even the slightest bit wobbly, then another runner may have been on the top podium, and the reason is simple: If his stride had wavered even the slightest bit, Bolt’s energy would have dissipated and he would have lost his forward power and acceleration, slowing his time. In a race like Sunday’s, there is no room for even one tenth of a second of misuse, so you better believe Mr. Bolt knows how to stabilize his body on one leg and use every single muscle in his hip and leg to stay steady. How? He has trained it, over and over and over again.

And it’s not just Bolt. Balance may be the most underrated quality in most of the greatest athletes of our time. It’s certainly not flashy, but it’s one of our body’s most fundamental abilities, and most professionals will rank balance (along with mobility) as the first and most vital skill necessary for optimal performance. In fact, the highly publicized strength, endurance, power and speed are actually nothing without a foundation of balance.

So how can you get Bolt-like balance? Short of relocating to Jamaica to train with Usain's coach, try this:

Stand on right leg, left leg extended in front of you, holding a medicine ball. Bend right knee slightly, then rotate torso towards left. Hold for 3 seconds, then rotate back to center. Repeat on opposite side for one rep. Do 5 reps.

Bolt in the 2008 Beijing Games.