Tag Archives: running speed

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?

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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?

Strength Training Can Help You Run Faster

25 Jul

STFThere are several factors implicated in running speed.  Form and technique are certainly part of the equation (although I train some very fast athletes who don’t have textbook running form).  Stride length and stride frequency are critical success factors for any runner/sprinter.  And research continues to show that lower-extremity strength and power — and the development thereof — can help any athlete improve his or her speed and running efficiency.

Strength training (weight lifting) enhances muscle strength, so your muscle fibers don’t fatigue as quickly.  This leads to better running speed, efficiency, and overall performance.  Exercises that target hip drive (flexion and extension), leg strength, and explosive power can all be incorporated into your workout to increase the amount of force you are able to generate against the ground, resulting in improved speed and running efficiency.

Perform strength exercises like kettlebell swings, squats, deadliftsRomanian deadlifts, and lunges.  Add explosive exercises like squat jumps and box jumps.  Choose two of the strength exercises and one of the explosive exercises, and perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions each, two or three days per week, with a day of rest between training days.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

It’s (almost) All About Speed

6 Oct

STFSpeed is a (insert cliché) difference maker/game changer/game breaker in virtually every sport.  It can be the difference between starting and sitting; winning and losing.

And agility, or “quickness” (which is basically the speed at which an athlete is able to accelerate, decelerate, change direction, and react), may be even more important than “straight-line” speed (and certainly more relevant in most sports).

I hear a lot of people talk about sport aptitude/IQ and sport-specific skills (e.g., ball-handling and shooting, in basketball), and both are important.

But, as you ascend through higher levels of sport participation — middle school, high school JV, varsity, college, one thing is certain: If your opponent can outrun you, you’re at a competitive disadvantage.  Conversely, if you can outrun your opponent, the advantage becomes yours.

Not everyone has the potential to be fast, but everyone has the potential to be faster.

If you’re serious about improving and developing your speed, you’ll need to incorporate these three components into your training plan:

  1. Strength training
  2. Plyometrics
  3. Technical training (running form, mechanics)

It’s also a smart idea to consult with an experienced, qualified strength and conditioning professional, to ensure that your plan is well-designed and -supervised.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Key Elements of Speed Training

28 Apr

Adrian Peterson, Leon HallIt would be inaccurate to suggest that everyone has the capacity to become a sprint champion, but every athlete does have the ability to improve his/her speed.

Running speed is an important component of athletic performance.  Equally important is gamespeed — the application of speed in a sport-specific context, which maximizes sport performance (Ian Jeffreys; Developing Speed).

Since speed relies on both motor skill development and the development of physical capacities to produce effective ground-reaction forces, a speed development program should include three key elements:

Development of Physical Capacities

An effective speed development program must develop an athlete’s muscular strength and power.  As I’ve stated before, speed development starts in the weight room.  An athlete’s running speed will be determined largely by his/her ability to generate force, effectively and efficiently, against the ground.

Technical Development

Proper running technique — including stride length, stride frequency, arm action, and leg action — helps ensure that athletes can use their physical capacities to enhance their speed.

Application of Speed

The development of physical capacities and running technique are only beneficial if they enhance running speed in the sport-specific context.  A speed improvement program must address all the elements that affect Performance in a particular sport, including initial acceleration, transition acceleration, and maximum speed.

In order to achieve optimal results, these three elements should be incorporated into a speed development program.  The training should also be adapted to the individual athlete’s characteristics.  The focus of training is different for each athlete, and should address differences in physical capacities and technical proficiency.

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?

Strength Training Can Help You Run Faster

5 Jun

STFThere are several factors implicated in running speed.  Form and technique are certainly part of the equation (although I train some very fast athletes who don’t have textbook running form).  Stride length and stride frequency are critical success factors for any runner/sprinter.  And research continues to show that lower-extremity strength and power — and the development thereof — can help any athlete improve his or her speed and running efficiency.

Strength training (weight lifting) enhances muscle strength, so your muscle fibers don’t fatigue as quickly.  This leads to better running speed, efficiency, and overall performance.  Exercises that target hip drive (flexion and extension), leg strength, and explosive power can all be incorporated into your workout to increase the amount of force you are able to generate against the ground, resulting in improved speed and running efficiency.

Perform strength exercises like kettlebell swings, squats, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, and lunges.  Add explosive exercises like squat jumps and box jumps.  Choose two of the strength exercises and one of the explosive exercises, and perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions each, two or three days per week, with a day of rest between training days.

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?

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