4 Tips to Accelerate Your Speed Training
It doesn't matter if you are running to catch a bus or running for a touchdown, increasing your top-end speed helps you in all aspects of life.
Many people who train for speed often leave a lot on the table. It's usually just about doing sprints, sprints, and more sprints. This is why some burnout and simply run themselves into the ground.
Related - How to Speed up Muscle Recovery
If you are wondering why you aren't getting any faster -- or even worse, getting slower -- here are some strategies to boost your speed.
Tip #1 - You Need to Get Strong
Speed comes from how much force your muscles can produce and your nervous system's efficiency. So in short, speed is the ability to demonstrate maximum strength in a minimal amount of time.
This is why jumping straight into speed ladders and plyometrics without a solid foundation of strength leads you to some weak results.
Exercises that train your posterior chain and full body exercises do great for building strength.
It's important to train other parts of your body, but some full body exercises you could look into are:
- Barbell Back Squats
- Bulgarian Split Squats
- Single Leg Deadlifts
- Hip Bridges
- Reverse Lunges
- Box Jumps
The idea here is to exert maximal force, so keep your reps low.
Before jumping into barbell back squats, you should practice squats with bodyweight or holding a dumbbell to your chest.
Perfect that technique before you jump in with a barbell.
Tip #2 - You Will Need to Improve Your Technique
Improving your technique and executing perfect form is the goal. When working out, you need to make every rep count.
Pushing through using a sloppy technique only trains bad habits that eventually will make you plateau or get hurt.
The same goes for running and sprinting.
Using good techniques including your stride mechanics and arm motion, you'll improve your movement efficiency, increase your speed, and increase how effective your muscles work for you.
Training isn't just about putting stress on a muscle, it's also about training your brain. In short, if you rely on poor quality movements, you're going to have poor quality results.
Tip #3 - Progress Slow
As you get faster, you'll be training sprints more often. If your conditioning or endurance is poor, how are you supposed to do a "speed workout" if you only make it through the first 10 minutes?
This is where going slow pays off. Slow movements target slow-twitch muscle fibers, but they help improve your cardiovascular and aerobic capabilities.
Generally speaking, if you want to improve your conditioning, you'll want to keep your heart rate at around 120-140 bpm. You'll need to train at least one to three times per week at 30 minutes to 45 minutes.
Here are a few tips on how to improve your conditioning:
- Perform high-intensity interval training - Studies show that interval training can build conditioning levels.
- Slowly reduce your rest time between sets when lifting weights - Forcing your body to adapt and recover quickly helps rebuild power reserves faster.
- Compound movements are king - Movements that involve multiple joints push your body to grow.
- Incorporate explosive movements - Adding exercises like box jumps, burpees, power pushups, and jumping knee tucks make you become more explosive.
Tip #4 - Start Sprinting Smarter
Sprints are a great tool to improve speed and power, but we need to be smart when to use them. Doing them randomly won't help you -- it could be slowing your progress.
So here are a few basic tips on using sprints in your training arsenal:
- Keep sprints to a shorter eight to ten seconds at first.
- Focus on getting 15-20 solid sprints instead of sprinting longer or with less rest.
- Keep max-effort days to only two or three times at most.
- Make sure to get plenty of rest between max-effort sprints. Giving that 100% every sprint is important. Rest long enough until your heart rate drops to around 130bpm or when you can breathe through your nose comfortably.
Now that you have the tools to create a solid foundation for your speed training, you can start incorporating your longer sprints. These sprints should be between 30 and 90 seconds.
Be sure to get plenty of rest in between sprints -- using 100% effort is how you get faster. It's not recommended to run longer sprints more than one to two times per weak due to how it fatigues your lactic system.