Tag Archives: speed training

Key Elements of Speed Training

25 Sep

It 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 lengthstride frequencyarm 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 accelerationtransition 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?

Advertisements

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?

You’ve Got to Practice at Game Speed

6 Mar

12307967-standard[1]As the AAU basketball season is upon us, I am reminded of watching our high school girls team — including my daughter — play their first tournament games of the season.  They did some things well and, of course, there were some areas that required improvement.

Invariably, the areas for improvement must start at practice.  At times, much of what the players did, especially offensively, looked hurried to the point that it adversely affected their execution.  It looked like the speed of the game made the players (think they had to) rush their shooting — jump shots and layups — as well as their offense in general.

My point is this: Finishing a layup, when you’re moving at full-speed, in “traffic,” is a tough thing to do.  If, when you practice layups, your drives to the basket are done at about 75% speed and uncontested, it’s unlikely you’ll develop the focus and muscle memory to control your body and shoot with the proper “touch” when you’re driving to the basket, full-speed, in a game situation.  It’s essential to practice like you play… at game speed.

The same principle applies to your speed and agility training.  When you perform your exercises and drills, it’s important to get yourself moving at full speed.  If you practice and train at less than full speed, what do you expect to happen in game situations?

If you’re a coach or trainer, here’s a speed and agility training tip:  You must allow adequate time for full recovery between exercises and drills.  If we want athletes to perform these drills at 100% effort, allowing for full recovery is necessary.  Otherwise, what we’re doing is conditioning.  There’s nothing wrong with conditioning, if that’s your goal, but it’s different from speed and agility training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Your Agility with Balance Training

13 Apr

airex_balance_beam_square[1]Balance should be considered as a potential predictor of agility, according to a new Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study.  The article also cited speed and power development as having an impact on agility; and gender-specific influences  — power development having a greater impact on agility in women, and balance training having a greater impact on agility in men.

Agility isn’t simply how fast you move.  It refers to your ability to accelerate (speed up), decelerate (slow down), and change direction; and how quickly you can recognize and react to a stimulus.  We also acknowledge that agility is contingent upon ground displacement: The stronger you are through the lower extremities, the more force you can generate against the ground.  With practice, increased ground force generation equals improvements in agility-related performance.

Balance training should include unilateral lower-body exercises, such as the single-leg squat, Bulgarian split squat, stepup, single-leg Romanian deadlift; and ankle, knee, and hip balance and stability exercises (pictured).

Speed training should incorporate max effort sprints, and assisted/resisted (uphill, parachute) running.

To increase power production, perform Olympic lifts (for example, the hang clean), squat jump, single-leg squat jump (also incorporates balance), and plyometrics.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Don’t Confuse Motion and Progress

11 Apr

tumblr_m1bwfq9uOV1qi2f8bo1_500[1]“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.” – Alfred A. Montapert

“Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” – John Wooden

Some players — and coaches — are enamored with “hustle” — bodies flying all over the court or field with reckless abandon.  To some, it looks like a lot of effort is being expended.  Unfortunately, as I observe scholastic sports, much of this activity lacks purpose… there’s no rhyme or reason to it.  Some of it is nothing more than a lot of frenetic energy that, ultimately, doesn’t accomplish much.

Whether you’re practicing, playing, or training… have a goal.  Understand what it is you want (need) to accomplish and what is required of you to achieve the desired result.  Think situationally about the “why,” “what,” and “how.”  Your practice, game-play, and training should be purposeful.

For example, when you practice ball-handling and shooting, don’t just randomly dribble and throw the ball at the basket.  Work on your “off” hand, and practice moves that help you create your own shot (hesitation, step-back, etc.).

When you take batting practice, don’t just swing the bat to make contact.  Practice bunting, hitting behind the runner, hitting to the opposite field, and hitting the ball in the air (sac fly).

When you train, don’t just do random exercises.  Perform exercises and drills that are aligned with your goals, and reflect the demands and movement patterns of your sport(s) — whether they be strength, speed, power, agility, etc.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

How Long Should You Rest Between Exercises and Sets?

17 Feb

Rest-period[1]Rest periods, between exercises and sets, can vary depending on the sport or exercise.  As a general rule, when strength or speed training, your rest intervals should be proportional to the intensity of your workout.  The purpose of rest periods is to ensure adequate recovery in order to perform subsequent exercises with maximal effort and proper technique.

Strength Training

Depending on your primary resistance training goal/strategy (and commensurate intensity level), below are recommended rest intervals:

  • Strength & Power: Heavy weight (75% – 90% loads, relative to % 1RM) and low repetitions (4-6 range) warrant longer rest intervals, 2-5 minutes.
  • Hypertrophy (size): Moderate-to-heavy weight (67% – 85% loads) and low-to-medium reps (6-12 range) = 30 seconds – 1.5 minutes rest intervals.
  • Endurance: Moderate weight (loads of 67% and less) and high reps (12+) = rest intervals of less than 30 seconds.

Speed Training

Since the goal of speed training requires exercises and drills to be performed at maximum speed — and with proper technique — you must avoid excessive fatigue.  Sprinting when you’re tired results in poor running mechanics and slower speeds.

  • Recover fully between sprints (30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on distance).
  • Don’t overdo it; 3-10 sprints, with full recovery, are adequate.
  • Sprints should be done toward beginning of workout when energy level is highest.

Growth Hormone and Testosterone

The length of your rest intervals can also influence production of growth hormone and testosterone, according to Rahimi, et. al., in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  “… short rest intervals (60-second) elevated greater increase in growth hormone (GH) compared with 120-second rest,” while “… testosterone (TS) response was greater in the resistance exercise protocol with a 120-second rest interval between sets.”

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we utilize agonist-antagonist paired sets (APS), alternating “push and pull” exercises for opposing muscle groups (for example, the bench press and row), primarily for the purpose of increasing efficiency by reducing training time.  Basically, one muscle group’s “work” exercise is the opposing muscle group’s “rest.”  “The use of APS training is an efficacious and time-effective method for developing strength and power…” (Robbins, et al.; Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research).

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

There is No Off-Season

16 Oct

broncos-offseason-workout_1398097292643_4162445_ver1.0_640_480[1]

If you’re serious about winning, there is no off-season.

Winning — and the process of self-improvement that leads to winning — is a year-round endeavor.

Strength, speed, and agility training; sport-specific skill development; and proper nutrition require consistent, continuous effort.

That’s not to say that winning — or succeeding — requires an obsessive, all-or-nothing approach that lacks balance and perspective.

It simply means that you’ve got to be committed to the process.  And that process must be incorporated into your off-season, pre-season, and in-season phases.

During the off-season, you’ve got to build it; During the pre-season, you’ve got to refine and perfect it; During the season, you’ve got to maintain it.

Taking a break, every once in a while, is good for your physical and psychological well-being.  At Athletic Performance Training Center, we like our athletes to take an “unloading” week at the end of each cycle — 12 weeks “on,” 1 week “off.”  During their unloading week, we don’t want to see them in the weight room or at the gym.

However, prolonged time away from your training results in erosion of your physical capabilities and sport-specific skills.

The same principles apply to academics, the arts, and business/professional development.

Read more about Why You Shouldn’t Treat the Off-Season Like a Vacation.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Jump, Sprint Training Improves Sport Performance

14 Sep

Combined plyometric and sprint training improves skill performance in soccer players, according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

A specific combined plyometric and sprint training, within regular soccer practice, improved explosive actions compared with conventional sport-specific training only.

The combined program had a beneficial impact on sprinting, change of direction, jumping, and ball-shooting speed; as well as improvements in agility and acceleration.

The training protocol used in the study included nine weeks of twice-weekly training sessions.  The plyometric-sprint training program incorporated jumping, hurdling, bouncing, skipping, and footwork, prior to the soccer training.

Several other studies suggest that the benefits of plyometric and sprint training also apply to performance improvement in other sports, including basketball, football, and volleyball.

Based on this information, it would seem advisable that athlete sport preparation include a well-designed and -supervised, combined plyometric and speed training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Lateral Agility Ladder Drills

13 May

hqdefault[1]A component of our Speed and Agility training involves working on footwork and foot speed.  When using the agility ladder, we like our athletes to perform drills that involve both linearforward and backward — and lateral movements.

Here’s a short video clip in which one of our athletes demonstrates a few lateral agility ladder drills.  This particular progression involves the following drills, performed in both directions:

  1. Lateral shuffle
  2. Lateral crossover (foot over foot)
  3. Lateral crossover (foot under foot)
  4. Carioca

The “foot under foot” drill becomes more challenging when performed at high speed, as your muscle memory will try to turn it into carioca.

These drills should be performed as quickly as they can be done, cleanly (without mangling the ladder).  For the purpose of this video, I asked our athlete — a local high school football player — to demonstrate the drills at a slower speed to better show the correct footwork.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You Can’t Do It All in the Weight Room

1 Apr

Speed-Resistance-Training-Parachute-1[1]Strength and speed development start in the weight room.  Stronger and faster is the foundation for athletic performance improvement.

But you can’t do it all in the weight room.  What you do outside the weight room will also have an impact on your performance.  Speed and agility training, sport-specific skill development, nutrition, rest and recovery, and mental preparation also complement and play an important role in your development as an athlete.

Speed and Agility Training

Speed development involves a combination of 3 components:

  • Technique — running form and mechanics
  • Assisted and resisted sprinting
  • Strength and power training, including plyometrics

Agility training utilizes exercises and drills that require acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and reaction.

Sport-Specific Skill Development

Strong and fast is important, but it won’t help you overcome weak ball-handling and shooting skills.  Regardless of the sport(s) you play, skills practice — with proper technique and lots of repetition — will be critical to your progress and success as an athlete.  Time spent on the court, in the batting cage, etc. should focus on quality, and a knowledgeable, experienced coach or trainer can be a valuable resource to make the developmental process more efficient and effective.  Video is also a great tool for performance development (the camera never lies).

Nutrition

Eating the right foods — quantity and quality — is important for two reasons: energy and recovery.  Before you exercise, practice, or play, your nutritional choices help to ensure that you will have adequate energy to perform optimally.  Afterward, the proper balance of nutrients helps with your body’s recovery process, preparing your body for next time.  You should aim to get most of your nutrients from whole foods, and nutritional supplements (multi-vitamin, protein) can also be helpful — especially since active individuals and athletes have a considerably higher need for nutrients to support an active metabolism.

Rest and Recovery

When it comes to strength and speed development, more is not necessarily better.  The goal should be to avoid burnout and injury caused by over-training, doing as much as you need to do to reach your performance goals, and not necessarily as much as you can (please note this does not mean do as little as you can).  Since training places physical and metabolic stress on your body, rest and recovery is necessary for your musculoskeletal system’s regenerative process.  Generally, there is a correlation between the intensity of your training and the amount of rest required by your body to continue to perform at an optimal level.  Make sure you allow for adequate rest during and between workouts, and get a good night’s sleep.

Mental Preparation

In addition to preparing your body, you’ve got to prepare your mind.  Elements of effective mental preparation include goal setting, visualization, focus, confidence, and commitment.  Be a smart athlete — a student of the game.  Be positive and adaptable, and utilize positive self-talk as a motivator.  Expect success and prepare accordingly.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

%d bloggers like this: