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Pose Running: Pull vs. Push by Dr. Nicholas Romanov - CrossFit Journal

Pose Running: Pull vs. Push

By Dr. Nicholas Romanov

In Running, Videos

August 07, 2010

Video Article

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is in front of a crowd of CrossFit subject-matter experts, HQ trainers and media to explain how to run efficiently, safely and sustainably—how to run in the Pose Method.

The technical differences between the proper running posture, or Pose, and inefficient movement can be summed up easily: pull vs. push. This oversimplified explanation would do in a pinch, but it doesn’t truly flesh out the details of Dr. Romanov’s running protocol. To make things clearer, Jon Gilson of Again Faster demonstrates in front of a crowd of his peers and Dr. Romanov takes questions from trainers and coaches including Louie Simmons.

10min 11sec

Additional reading: Running the Wrong Way? by Dr. Lon Kilgore, published March 17, 2010.

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26 Comments on “Pose Running: Pull vs. Push”


wrote …

When Dr. Romanov is speaking of sprinting and Usain Bolt, is he talking just about the max velocity phase or is he speaking of the entire act of sprinting? When I first saw this it kind of perplexed me because a sprinter clearly has to push during acceleration. If he is saying that you shouldn't try to push once you're at your max velocity then I can accept that premise. However, when he sets Jon Gilson up to push, he puts him in an acceleration phase angle. The max velocity angle is not that great. Even Bolt the ultimate Pose runner only has a slight lean over the last 30m of a race. So the rest of the post is written with the assumption that he is talking about the entire act of sprinting. Let me know what you think.

Does Dr. Romanov believe that you don't push when sprinting or was he just saying that pulling is more important? Obviously he believes that you push enough to overcome gravity. So maybe a better question is: does he believe that acceleration comes solely from falling with no horizontal pushing forces? I realize that he never said a word about acceleration, but in world class sprinting 60% of a 100m race is acceleration.

If he does believe that acceleration comes solely from falling then you should be able to find any two people with identical frames (same weight, height, and leg length) teach them the pose method and get the same times more times than not.

That "starting position" is a setup. Of course he's not going to be able to push, it’s like asking someone to jump without bending their legs. Sprinters do not start from that position. Jon G. was trying get in a position that would allow him to push. Checkout this link: This is a photo sequence of former world class sprinter Jon Drummond coming out of the blocks. If you look at some of the pictures from the 4th and 6th rows you'll see that he is in a similar position to that which Jon G was in except that one of his legs is raised. If Jon G was told to get in that position he would have been able to push with the lead leg just like Jon D does in the photo sequence.

Okay, I watched it again and he does talk about a sprinter coming out of his blocks. So while I totally respect Dr.Romanov and what he has contributed to the CrossFit community, I have to say I disagree with his stance on acceleration. I could be misinterpreting, but I suspect Louie Simmons may have doubts too judging by his questions.


well first off, Usain Bolt is usually slowing down and pumping his chest during the last 30m of the race so that may explain the lack of lean haha.

but anyways, i definitely see where you're coming from. but as far as the blocks go, it seems most people set up way behind the line in order to give them a better angle to push off. if you crowd the line (similar to how they teach in the 40 video for CrossFit Football), i find it much more effective to bring your butt up higher and fall out of the blocks with the focus being on pulling the feet up.


wrote …

1. I think Romanov is a genius.

2. In response to your comments, I think Romanov's point is that it is all about POSE, and everything else flows from that. So, instead of trying to assemble the sprint (or any running speed) from individual elements, one understands that gravity rules, learn to work with gravity (pose) and the rest of it (mechanics, nuerology) falls (no pun intended) into place.


wrote …

While I think there is a large amount of confusion related to the POSE method and its interaction with gravity, falling and pulling I do think that much more accepted is the need for the foot strike to be underneath the bodies Center of Mass, it should be a quick foot strike with a short contact time with the ground and this can only happen with a stride rate of ~180SPM.

I would love to see the video frames used to measure the angle of lean(fall) of athletes like Bolt, Haile G, J. Wariner, K. Bekele and others. Also, I wonder if there has been any testing on a force plate between the two styles comparing ground reaction forces. Dr. Romanov's explanation of the (lack of) ground reaction forces in POSE running was difficult for me to wrap my head around. I'm also curious about the directionality of the ground reaction forces between different running styles among comparative runners.


Mauricio Leal wrote …

I think his point is that there is indeed a "push," but it is used solely to overcome the force of gravity, and that it will happen automatically if the POSE is performed properly. Further, thinking "pull" will minimize the contact time of one's foot with the ground, resulting in a shorter but more powerful impulse into the ground that relies on rebound and stretch-reflex, rather than a forceful push that is less efficient and results in forces that do more than overcome gravity (such as actively propelling oneself forward), thus defeating the gravity-only frame of the technique.


wrote …

Dr. Romanov's example using J. Gilson, does it really have any application? There is never a point in running where a runner has both legs extended behind him. I think that POSE absolutely has application to faster, more efficient running but I have a hard time following his explanations.


keith norris wrote …

Dr. Romanov seems to indicate that that by virtue of a sprinter's maintaining proper lean alone (roughly 18-21 degrees) that this will result in a philological adaptation (strength, cns efficiency, power production, mechanics, to support record sprint times. I tend to see this reasoning as putting the ox before the cart, and I think from Louie's dubious questioning that he feels the same way. In other words, I believe than lean angle is a correlate to, rather than a cause of, record sprint times. There has to be an underlying athleticism in place in order to support maintenance of that angle in the first place.




Darren Coughlan wrote …

Great vid,
I'd like to hear about Dr Romanov's view of change of direction in contact sport ie, rugby


wrote …

7 Keith) Maybe the only way you can run that fast is at that angle? I think I would just fall over or just get slowed by the awkward feeling if I leaned that much. Every time I run and try to 'pose' I feel awkward, and I probably have a minimal lean...

9 Darren) I imagine he would relate the change of direction to a shift in body weight. In nearly every team sport, you follow the hips (centre of mass) on defence not the feet or the head fakes.

But I'm a POSE beginner. I've only heard about it through CF, so don't quote me...just posting some thoughts...


I'm aware of gravity's role in running, obviously agree with that in a sport where no-one is trying to stop or hurt you.

What I meant was, does he expect to 'pull' your way through a tackle etc.


keith norris wrote …

The post below is timely, and highlights the point I was getting at:

Athleticism leads, IMHO, and technique (including proper lean) polishes. Or another way to think about this is that superior athleticism *allows for* the maintenance of proper lean throughout the duration of the sprint.


wrote …

In response to Jonathan,

Two people with identical frames may not be able to run at same speed. Romanov is saying that usain bolt is quick enough to pick his feet up off the ground at an insane angle. Most of us wouldn't be able to keep up with gravity pulling us down at that angle. Kinda like when you run down a hill and it almost feels as though you are going to tumble into the ground cause you can't keep up with that force of gravity.


both legs are behind a runner when they're coming out of starting blocks


wrote …

I believe the lesser force applied to the ground in pose running is due to the efficiency of its mechanics. Just because your foot pushed into the ground harder than mine does not mean that you are running faster- you may be wasting a lot of energy.


replied to comment from Chris Sinagoga

They are split and at the gun you are are immediately moving one leg forward while the other is going backward.


agreed. and from my understanding, Dr. Romanov suggests that when in that position, the focus should be the pull of the back foot rather than the pushing off of the front one.


Stephen Hubbard wrote …

While it is great that CF has THE inventor of POSE to talk to us, I find it kind of hard to understand what is being offered in these videos. I can't decided if it is his choppy english or his desire to continually impress us with the revolutionary but simply nature of the concept or if its that I am reading way more into it than I should or if I just am not smart enough to get it.

Right now, when I run I just think to myself: "Lean and fall". Is there more that I should be learning from Dr Romanov as a intermediate CFer?

When is someone gonna publish a PDF "7 ways to make your running better via the POSE method"?


replied to comment from Chris Sinagoga

Yes, to me the pull off the ground focus is a cue to help with the skill he's trying to coach.

The other interesting bit was when Romanov kind of avoided a direct answer to the question on strength asked by the powerlifting guy. He said something like a force of 3 x bodyweight had to be applied in a very short time through one leg. To me, he was saying yes you have to be strong but you have to be strong in the right way and there is no point in just training to be able to apply a large force - you have to train to be able to apply a large reaction force very quickly - you have to get strong in the right way.

I don't think he is saying anything much different from any other running coach:

To get faster you need to improve running skill and get stronger in the right way. He happens to have a particular model of running form called "pose" and his particular coaching cues are appropriate to his model of running form.


wrote …

I DONT AGREE with this concept AT ALL. I just came back from a USATF level 1 coach training and I think their way of explaining sprinting makes more sense.
The Pose Method man needs to explain better what he means by " pulling"
In the beginning of a race ( 100m in this case) you position yourself in such way to produces the greatest horizontal force just like you would when you are pushing a car. For the first 20 to 30 m, the sprinter is accelerating. From 30 to 60 m the sprinter is in maximum velocity and he/ she stands erect. And the last portion of the race the sprinter is decelerating. Throughout the 10 m a TREMENDOUS amount of force is generated by the feet on the ground. I dont see any pull.
Thuis is nonsense.... the day he is going to have world class athlete with this approach, I will consider it. It is ridiculous....


replied to comment from Cerveau Gauche

"puling" is pulling your feet off the ground. Here's what I got from what he was saying:

There's no point in thinking about pushing against the ground because trying to push won't make you any better at it. The push is an automatic reaction against the force of gravity and no amount of trying to push will make any difference and will actually make it worse because you'll have your foot on the ground for too long. You are better to think about pulling your foot quickly off the ground. That way you will spend a shorter time in contact with the ground and you will help to make the "push" force act faster.


wrote …

Mr Duncan Beattie,
I agree with the that in biomechanics/physics, there is concept called impulse which the force times the time the force is applied. Impulse = F xT. When T is small ie the contact time wioth the ground is small, F gets bigger and F getting bigger means that you producing force You mentioned force.... where is the direction of that force? what are its components? that is the question. Now he is saying that it is a pulling and that I DO NOT AGREE WITH!!!!!
All track and field events are force producing events, in one way or the other, except for the marathon.


wrote …

Well there seems to be lots of confusion regarding the major concepts of POSE.

I have been to the cert myself and will try to help perhaps the scientifical understanding of the concept, because there's a lot of rationality and scientific explanation ( math and physics) behind the validity of the concept.

First and foremost tho I might not be the best at this but will try as much as I can.

About the whole pulling problem.

Let's look at it this way. We will have sensors on a track that will record the different force in action on the ground during the act of running. There are a couple of different force involved but the main physic theory to keep in mind is that every force produced against an object ( the ground) will create an opposite ( vectorly speaking) force.
So if we take into account the whole "pushing" against the ground theory of running from most coaches nowadays, theorically speaking, the result we should see when monitoring the force on our sensor is that once impact with the foot to the ground is made, following the time axis, we should see a resulting force peak and from there increase until a certain level to finnally drop completely ( once the feet leaves the floor) , since the more time is spent pushing on the ground the more force is applied to the ground. And this should be represented by a curve who starts at a certain level ( kind of high, impact of the feet against the ground ) and from there only goes up until another point ( feet leaving the ground ) where it would drop down to zero.

What we actually observe from such experiment is that the actual resulting force of the feet "pushing" on the ground actually decrease after the intial impact of the feet against the ground, instead of increasing.

I tried to find the picture on the web to no success but a picture of the resulting graph of this experience would clarify and express the finding in a much more efficient way, hope you guys do get the point.

So from there, we can conclude that the whole "pushing" against the ground is pretty much happening in our head ( perception ), we feel like pushing against the ground but we really aren't , else the graph would actually concurre with the theory, but it is not the case.

I think this is the starting point to anyone who want to really understand the principles behind POSE running.

So once and for all, humans are not pushing agains the ground in order to propulse themselves in a forward motion while running.

That's science, there is a theory that we try to prove with an experiment and we compare with the prevision that the said theory allow us to make. We can conclude that the pushing theory is false.

We might want to precise that Dr. Romanov didn't invent anything, he discovered this and the method has been used for ever in most humans while running. This is how it is done by elite natural runners ( Ursain Bolt actually use POSE running method when his running video is analysed frame by frame , it doesn't mean he has been train specifically to run this way, but simply that he is naturrally POSE running, just as most humans before being introduced and coached through the contemporary way of "running & pushing & long strides & etc...." ). Look at kids, they all POSE running until being exposed to coaches and stuff, they all fall, pull, get in pose and rinse and repeat, analyze any kid running frame by frame and you will see some great POSE running.

Another point is the angle of falling.

It has nothing to do with how much your torso is inclined ( or not), the angle of falling we look at is the angle created by the last point of contact of the feet with the ground in relation to the center of gravity of the runner ( think hips for simplicism ). During a sprint the runner will tend to let himself fall much more than someone running a marathon ( thus the higher velocity ), in order to do so he keep his feet in contact with the ground for a much longer time which let the runner fall for more time, and thus create a much bigger resulting angle

An image that cover this can be viewed there ( WFS ) :

In the paragraph: For those who like math

To sum it : The lean is from the ankle through the hip only

I Hope this helped a bit


wrote …

Monsieur Frederic,
How do you explain the link between jumping higher and rinnung fast?
Some argue that the link is due to ability of pushing the ground. If I use the concept of impulse : I = FxT = mass time change in velocity. I can explain that the runner especially the sprinter's foot contact time is the shortest and and strong which propulse him/her.


wrote …

I can understand the POSE Method for endurance runners, but it doesn't seem to make sense when applied to sprinting. I understand that both forms of running require the athlete to maximize efficiency. However, distance running is about the maintenance of speed, whereas sprinting is about the development of speed. Sprinters cannot solely rely on gravity to get them up to maximum velocity, they don't have the time.

I think the debate breaks down to this: In sprinting, is momentum generated by the athlete, gravity, or both?



wrote …

Hmm. Made sense to me. The further the angle of your fall the more you have to keep up with the falling and the faster you go because you are keeping up with the gravitational pull. Keeping pose keeps you from falling on your ass, the pull keeps your feet under you, and the fall is what gives you movement. Utilizing gravity is exerting minimum effort to perform a movement, just like keeping a bar close to your body in a clean.

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