How to Improve Quickness

October 19, 2010

You've probably heard your coach yell, "You have to be faster!" Speed is important, but in a typical game, the players reach top speed in only a few instances.  Thus, your focus should be on quickness, which is explosively accelerating to a high speed over a short distance.

To train to be quick, you need to understand how muscles work. Essentially, they are comprised of slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers. Slow-twitch fibers specialize in endurance, allowing athletes such as Lance Armstrong to bike hundreds of miles. Fast-twitch fibers specialize in quick movements, like those of a sprinter. They produce powerful, high-speed contractions, but they fatigue easily, because they rely on anaerobic metabolism, which uses stored glucose to power muscle contractions instantly. This energy source depletes quickly, producing lactic acid, which causes the burning sensation that all serious athletes experience.

Training programs that target fast-twitch fibers must consider their function, and how and when quickness is needed during competition. Not only can you strengthen the fibers and increase contraction speed and endurance, you may also be able to raise the proportion of fast-twitch fibers in your muscles. A recent study produced evidence of conversion from slow- to fast-twitch fibers resulting from high-intensity exercise.*

The combination of strength and quickness provided by fast-twitch fibers is what makes athletes such as Dwight Freeney and Thomas Vanek so intimidating.  Freeney uses exercises like the Rip and Press and the Machine Hang Shrug to train his explosiveness, which puts fear in the eyes of opposing quarterbacks.

Vanek's quickness makes him a constant threat on the ice. Cal Dietz, University of Minnesota hockey strength and conditioning coach, has Vanek perform exercises that strengthen his muscles to be explosive—like the Power Step-Up and the 180 Reverse Bench Jump. You can perform these and other exercises (see below) to strengthen your fast-twitch fibers and train them to fire quickly.

Additional Exercises

Tendo Back Squat

Front Squat

Box Toe Touches

Resisted Starts

Dumbbell Squat Press


*Jansson, E., et al. (2008). Increase in the proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers by sprint training in males. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 359-363.

 

Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...

Featured Videos

Adrian Gonzalez Rope Plank Adrian Gonzalez Rope Plank Views: 632,441
Ronda Rousey Shows Off Intense New Bag Drill Ronda Rousey Shows Off Intense New Bag Drill Views: 68,124
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 5: Fundamentals Training Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 5: Fundamentals Training Views: 1,524,960
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,164
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,920,831
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,057,815
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 6,082,676
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,974,019

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Todd Durkin's 5 Exercises to Increase Your Agility

Todd Durkin's 5 Exercises to Increase Your Agility

5 Stretches That Can Instantly Make You Faster

5 Stretches That Can Instantly Make You Faster

Fine-Tuning Soccer Sprint Speed

Fine-Tuning Soccer Sprint Speed

What Is Fast in Soccer?

What Is Fast in Soccer?

3 Ways to Build Sprint Speed (No Sprinting Required)

3 Ways to Build Sprint Speed (No Sprinting Required)

5 Movements You Should Be Doing to Gain Football Speed

5 Movements You Should Be Doing to Gain Football Speed

Le'Veon Bell Tweets Some Impressive Off-Season Workouts

Le'Veon Bell Tweets Some Impressive Off-Season Workouts

Resisted Sprints: Use the Right Weight to Get Faster

Resisted Sprints: Use the Right Weight to Get Faster

Six-Pack for Speed: 5 Core Exercises That Can Make You Faster

Six-Pack for Speed: 5 Core Exercises That Can Make You Faster

Why Youth Athletes Need to Focus On Strength to Improve Speed

Why Youth Athletes Need to Focus On Strength to Improve Speed

A Linear Speed Progression for Increasing In-Game Speed

A Linear Speed Progression for Increasing In-Game Speed

Building Sprint Speed for Soccer Players

Building Sprint Speed for Soccer Players

Soccer Players: Get Quick on the Pitch

Soccer Players: Get Quick on the Pitch

These 5 Drills Will Increase Your Baseball-Specific Speed

These 5 Drills Will Increase Your Baseball-Specific Speed

Sprinting Tips from Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Johnson

Sprinting Tips from Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Johnson

Developing Soccer-Specific Speed

Developing Soccer-Specific Speed

Get Faster with High-Speed Treadmill Training

Get Faster with High-Speed Treadmill Training

King of the Hill: 5 Hill Run Exercises to Supercharge Your Speed

King of the Hill: 5 Hill Run Exercises to Supercharge Your Speed

Increase Your Ankle Mobility to Sprint Faster

Increase Your Ankle Mobility to Sprint Faster

NBA All-Star Paul Millsap's Quick Feet Drill

NBA All-Star Paul Millsap's Quick Feet Drill

Get Even More Out of Your Hill Sprints With These Variations

Get Even More Out of Your Hill Sprints With These Variations

NFL RB Zac Stacy Works to Get Faster for the 2015 Season

NFL RB Zac Stacy Works to Get Faster for the 2015 Season

3 Acceleration Drills to Get Faster

3 Acceleration Drills to Get Faster

Speed Drill of the Day: Get More Explosive with Ankle Hops

Speed Drill of the Day: Get More Explosive with Ankle Hops

Why Agility Is Critical for Soccer Players

Why Agility Is Critical for Soccer Players

YardBarker