Tag Archives: running mechanics

Maximize Your Speed Workouts

14 Aug

There’s a reason people say that “speed kills.” It’s the difference maker in nearly every sport, and it can make or break you as an athlete.

Not everyone has the genetic potential to be Usain Bolt, but everyone can get faster. Follow these principles to make the most of your speed workouts:

Observe Proper Running Mechanics

  • Swing arms in line with elbows, not with shoulders or hands
  • Keep elbows bent at right angles
  • Point eyes in front and don’t look down at feet
  • Land on balls of feet and keep heels off ground
  • Pick foot off ground and swing leg forward, so that upper leg is parallel to ground
  • Drive against ground with every stride, and try to minimize ground time; the longer your foot stays in contact with the ground, the slower you will run

Run Fast

You have to train yourself to run fast. That means developing speed “muscle memory.” Perform every sprint at (or close to) maximum speed. You can’t train by performing sprints at only a percentage of your maximum speed and expect to teach your body to run at full speed.

Recover

Sprinting at maximum speed requires proper technique, so you must avoid excessive fatigue. Sprinting when you’re tired results in poor running mechanics and slower speeds.

  • Recover fully between sprints, resting 30 seconds to two minutes depending on the distance
  • Perform no more than three to 10 sprints during one workout
  • Perform sprints at the beginning of your workout after a dynamic warm-up to ensure a high energy level

Strength Training

This one should actually be at the top of the list.  It has been (accurately) said that speed development starts in the weight room.  The amount of force you can generate against the ground is critical to running speed.  Strength training is—and should be—an important component of speed training and development. It’s best to perform lower-body lifts that strengthen multiple muscles at once, such as Squats, Deadlifts, and Romanian Deadlifts. And since they improve acceleration and overall power, plyometrics should be an important part of your workouts.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Advertisements

Speed Development Starts in the Weight Room

26 Aug

squats-strength-training[1]Every summer, I get scores of calls and emails from athletes (and parents of athletes) asking me if I can help with speed development in preparation for fall and winter sports.  Invariably, they all want me to focus on the same thing — running form, mechanics, and technique.  They feel that if I can correct and improve mechanical shortcomings, speed will improve.

I don’t dispute that running form is important, but it should be viewed as the “fine-tuning” and not the main area of focus.  I train some very fast athletes whose technique isn’t exactly “textbook” perfect.  Same goes for my highest vertical jumpers and quickest, most agile athletes.  But all the fastest athletes I train have something in common: Strong, powerful hips and legs.  They all have the ability to generate a lot of force against the ground to propel themselves forward (upward, laterally, etc.).

In his article, Why Power Development Must Come Before Speed Work, strength coach Rick Scarpulla asserts that “Power can overcome a lack of technique to an extent, but technique cannot overcome a lack of power.”

If you want to lay the groundwork for speed development, start in the weight room.  Once you have built a solid foundation of functional strength and power with exercises like squats, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, glute-ham raises, and plyometrics, then it’s time to break out the cones, hurdles, and ladders, and hit the track or turf for your field work.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Kick it Up a Notch with Resisted Running

22 Jun

running_stairs[1]Resisted running/sprinting is a great way to develop speed and agility.  Methods of resistance may include gravity (running up hills or stairs) or overloading (parachute or weighted sled).  When running with resistance, it is important that the athlete maintains proper running mechanics, in order to improve speed-strength and stride length.

Generally, a 10% increase in external resistance is adequate, since loads of greater than 10% may have a detrimental effect on overall technique (dependent on the athlete).  You don’t want the athlete to slow down and “muscle through” each stride.  Ideally, you want the athlete to maintain explosive arm and knee punching action, andexplosive leg drive off the ground.

Gravity Resistance

Running up hills or stadium stairs will definitely increase the intensity level of your workout.  It will also benefit your speed, strength, agility, and cardiovascular fitness.  And you don’t necessarily need to find a hill.  An area with a grade of as little as 5-10% will do.  For stadium stairs, check out your local high school football facility.

Overload Resistance

If you have access to a parachute or weighted sled,  I would encourage you to try them (run against the wind with a parachute).  You won’t need to run long distances.  40-50 yard sprints are adequate for parachute running, and 15-20 yard bursts are sufficient for the weighted sled.

As with other modes of high-intensity training, allow adequate rest intervals between sets.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Maximize Your Speed Workouts

26 Mar

Adrian Peterson, Leon HallThere’s a reason people say that “speed kills.” It’s the difference maker in nearly every sport, and it can make or break you as an athlete.

Not everyone has the genetic potential to be Usain Bolt, but everyone can get faster. Follow these principles to make the most of your speed workouts:

Observe Proper Running Mechanics

  • Swing arms in line with elbows, not with shoulders or hands
  • Keep elbows bent at right angles
  • Point eyes in front and don’t look down at feet
  • Land on balls of feet and keep heels off ground
  • Pick foot off ground and swing leg forward, so that upper leg is parallel to ground
  • Drive against ground with every stride, and try to minimize ground time; the longer your foot stays in contact with the ground, the slower you will run

Run Fast

You have to train yourself to run fast. That means developing speed “muscle memory.” Perform every sprint at (or close to) maximum speed. You can’t train by performing sprints at only a percentage of your maximum speed and expect to teach your body to run at full speed.

Recover

Sprinting at maximum speed requires proper technique, so you must avoid excessive fatigue. Sprinting when you’re tired results in poor running mechanics and slower speeds.

  • Recover fully between sprints, resting 30 seconds to two minutes depending on the distance
  • Perform no more than three to 10 sprints during one workout
  • Perform sprints at the beginning of your workout after a dynamic warm-up to ensure a high energy level

Strength Training

Strength training is—and should be—an important component of speed training and development. It’s best to perform lower-body lifts that strengthen multiple muscles at once, such as Squats, Deadlifts, and Romanian Deadlifts. And since they improve acceleration and overall power, plyometrics should be an important part of your workouts.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Speed Development Starts in the Weight Room

1 Jul

squats-strength-training[1]Every summer, I get scores of calls and emails from athletes (and parents of athletes) asking me if I can help with speed development in preparation for fall and winter sports.  Invariably, they all want me to focus on the same thing — running form, mechanics, and technique.  They feel that if I can correct and improve mechanical shortcomings, speed will improve.

I don’t dispute that running form is important, but it should be viewed as the “fine-tuning” and not the main area of focus.  I train some very fast athletes whose technique isn’t exactly “textbook” perfect.  Same goes for my highest vertical jumpers and quickest, most agile athletes.  But all the fastest athletes I train have something in common: Strong, powerful hips and legs.  They all have the ability to generate a lot of force against the ground to propel themselves forward (upward, laterally, etc.).

In his article, Why Power Development Must Come Before Speed Work, strength coach Rick Scarpulla asserts that “Power can overcome a lack of technique to an extent, but technique cannot overcome a lack of power.”

If you want to lay the groundwork for speed development, start in the weight room.  Once you have built a solid foundation of functional strength and power with exercises like squats, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, glute-ham raises, and plyometrics, then it’s time to break out the cones, hurdles, and ladders, and hit the track or turf for your field work.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Kick it Up a Notch with Resisted Running

10 May

running_stairs[1]Resisted running/sprinting is a great way to develop speed and agility.  Methods of resistance may include gravity (running up hills or stairs) or overloading (parachute or weighted sled).  When running with resistance, it is important that the athlete maintains proper running mechanics, in order to improve speed-strength and stride length.

Generally, a 10% increase in external resistance is adequate, since loads of greater than 10% may have a detrimental effect on overall technique (dependent on the athlete).  You don’t want the athlete to slow down and “muscle through” each stride.  Ideally, you want the athlete to maintain explosive arm and knee punching action, and explosive leg drive off the ground.

Gravity Resistance

Running up hills or stadium stairs will definitely increase the intensity level of your workout.  It will also benefit your speed, strength, agility, and cardiovascular fitness.  And you don’t necessarily need to find a hill.  An area with a grade of as little as 5-10% will do.  For stadium stairs, check out your local high school football facility.

Overload Resistance

If you have access to a parachute or weighted sled,  I would encourage you to try them (run against the wind with a parachute).  You won’t need to run long distances.  40-50 yard sprints are adequate for parachute running, and 15-20 yard bursts are sufficient for the weighted sled.

As with other modes of high-intensity training, allow adequate rest intervals between sets.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Speed Training and Development (get faster!)

18 Aug

Let’s face it… speed can be a “difference maker.”  Speed can mean the difference between playing and sitting; winning and losing.  Not everyone has the potential to be fast, but everyone has the potential to be faster.  I don’t think anyone would argue that speed is an important component of athletic success.  There are a few principles to follow to make your speed training more effective.

Running Form/Mechanics

  • Swing your arms with your elbows, not with your shoulders or hands; Keep your elbows bent at right angles, and keep your arm swing linear (don’t swing your arms across your body).
  • Keep your eyes in front of you; don’t look down at your feet.
  • Land on the balls of your feet and keep your heels off the ground; this should help you to maintain a slightly forward lean (shoulders in front of hips).
  • Pick your foot off the ground, and swing your leg forward so that your upper leg is parallel to the ground.
  • Drive against the ground with every stride, but try to minimize ground time; the longer your foot stays in contact with the ground, the slower you will run.

Running Speed = Stride Length X Stride Frequency.  The longer your stride, combined with the frequency at which you replace each stride, will determine your speed.

Run Fast

You have to train yourself to run fast.  That means developing speed “muscle memory.”  You should perform every sprint at (or close to) maximum speed.  You can’t train by performing sprints at only a percentage of your maximum speed, and expect to “teach” your body to run at full speed.

Allow for Adequate Rest Intervals

Sprinting at maximum speed requires proper technique, so you must avoid excessive fatigue.  Sprinting when you’re tired results in poor running mechanics and slower speeds.

  • Recover fully between sprints; rest 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the distance.
  • Don’t overdo it; 3-10 sprints, with full recovery, are more than adequate; sprints should be done towards the beginning of your workout (after warm-up) when your energy level is highest.

Strength Training

You have to be strong.  Running speed doesn’t really exist outside the context of lower-extremity strength and power (sprinting is exerting force against the ground).    Strength training is – and should be – an important component of speed training and development.  Squats (and squat-type exercises), Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlifts, and Plyometrics should be performed as part of your Strength and Conditioning regimen.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

%d bloggers like this: