The Sprinter's Speed Workout

July 4, 2012

Must See Speed Videos

There is no major team sport for which speed and quickness are not essential skills. If you want to win and be successful in your sport, speed drills should be a major focus of your training.

Speed training seems simple enough. You run through exercises designed to make you faster. But it's more complex than running for 40 yards and performing Wind Sprints. Speed exercises must be performed with perfect mechanics, or you will never reach your speed potential.

Sprinting is really a science. Sprinting follows the laws of physics so closely that any deficiency can dramatically slow you down. Every move must efficiently transfer force into the ground to propel you forward. This applies to all sports, whether you are running through a hole in the line, sprinting to catch a pass, trying to stretch a double into a triple or leading a fast break.

One of the best ways to hone your mechanics is to watch a pure sprinter and note his or her characteristics.

  • Tall upper body with spine erect, chest out and head straight
  • Full fluid arm swing with no unnecessary twisting of the torso
  • High knee lift with foot strike beneath the body (not in front) and toes up
  • Relaxed frame with no difference, appearing like it takes minimal effort to run fast

Speed Drills

A-Skips

These cues are difficult to master by reading about them in an article, so let's get to the must-do drills. The following will reinforce correct sprint mechanics and motor patterns in your muscle memory. Perform them regularly before practices, on their own or as part of a speed training day.

A-Skips

Emphasize high knee lift with a rhythmic bounce in each step. Focus on staying tall with full arm swing. Remember to strike the ground directly under your body.

Running A

This is a faster version of the A-Skip. No pause in this variation, since there is a quicker switch of the feet. Think of the track as made of hot coals; you don't want you feet on the ground for long. Be sure to stay tall and keep your arms pumping!

Bounding

Bounding emphasizes the lines of force you need to generate when starting from a static position, like when sprinting off the line of scrimmage. Maintain a forward lean and make sure your trailing leg is reaching a full extension. As always, your arms should be working hard. Keep your eyes focused down the track.

Weightroom Exercises

If you lack strength and power, you will be unable to sprint faster beyond improvements from refined technique. Remember to lift weights in an explosive manner to help you move faster without them. Studies have supported the idea that accelerating loads of around 50 to 60 percent of your max effort has the most carryover to increased speed. Perform a lifting tempo of 3 seconds down, no pause at the bottom, an explosive upward phase and no pause at the top. Perform the exercises below for three to five sets of six reps.

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Hang Cleans
  • Snatch
  • Push Press
  • Lunges
  • Box Jumps
  • Inverted Rows
  • Bench Press
  • Pull-Ups
  • Split-Squats

Speed Training Workouts

To train for speed, you need to spend time actually running. Alternate short speed days with long speed days, interspersed with weight training. Here's an example of a typical week:

Day 1 - Weight Training

  • Deadlift - 4x6
  • Push Press - 4x6
  • Hang Clean - 4x4
  • Box Jumps (to highest box with good form) - 4x4
  • Pull-Ups - 4x6

Day 2 - Short Speed workout (drills described above, 3x20m sprints, 3x40m sprints, 3x60m sprints 3x80m sprints)

Day 3 - Weight Training

  • Inverted Row - 4xMax in 15 seconds*
  • Bench Press - 4x6*
  • Rear-Foot-Elevated Split Squat - 4x6 each leg**
  • Band Face Pull - 4x8**
  • Dumbbell Walking Lunge - 4x12***
  • Dumbbell Push-Up Rows - 4x6 each arm***

Perform single, double and triple asterisked exercises in superset fashion.

Day 4 - Long Speed workout (drills described above, 1x250m sprints, 2x200m sprints and 3x150m sprints)

NOTE: Don't focus on much more than technique when running. Run fast, but under control. To gauge it, I recommend sprinting at 85 to 90 percent of your max. This will allow for a strong technical emphasis and a relaxed but fast sprint.

To be fast like a sprinter, you need to train the way sprinters do—at least in some capacity. Supplementing your own sport training with sprint mechanics and speed drills can have a notable impact on your speed on game days. A few rounds on the track, and soon you'll be tearing up the opposition.

Lee Boyce
- Lee Boyce is a strength coach based in Toronto who works with strength, sports performance and conditioning clients. He contributes to many major magazines, including...
Lee Boyce
- Lee Boyce is a strength coach based in Toronto who works with strength, sports performance and conditioning clients. He contributes to many major magazines, including...

Featured Videos

Path to the Pros 2015: Devin Smith Path to the Pros 2015: Devin Smith Views: 178,562
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 75,992
Blake Griffin Interview and Cover Shoot Blake Griffin Interview and Cover Shoot Views: 588,674
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

Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,252,646
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,192
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: 10,920,844
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 6,117,437

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
These 5 Drills Will Increase Your Baseball-Specific Speed

These 5 Drills Will Increase Your Baseball-Specific Speed

Think about the game of baseball really quick. Now think about when you run during a baseball game.. What are you doing? Well most of the time you are...

Fine-Tuning Soccer Sprint Speed

Fine-Tuning Soccer Sprint Speed

3 Ways to Build Sprint Speed (No Sprinting Required)

3 Ways to Build Sprint Speed (No Sprinting Required)

Soccer Players: Get Quick on the Pitch

Soccer Players: Get Quick on the Pitch

Building Sprint Speed for Soccer Players

Building Sprint Speed for Soccer Players

Le'Veon Bell Tweets Some Impressive Off-Season Workouts

Le'Veon Bell Tweets Some Impressive Off-Season Workouts

What Is Fast in Soccer?

What Is Fast in Soccer?

Todd Durkin's 5 Exercises to Increase Your Agility

Todd Durkin's 5 Exercises to Increase Your Agility

5 Movements You Should Be Doing to Gain Football Speed

5 Movements You Should Be Doing to Gain Football Speed

Developing Soccer-Specific Speed

Developing Soccer-Specific Speed

Get Faster With These Hamstring Exercises

Get Faster With These Hamstring Exercises

NBA All-Star Paul Millsap's Quick Feet Drill

NBA All-Star Paul Millsap's Quick Feet Drill

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

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

Why Youth Athletes Need to Focus On Strength to Improve Speed

Why Youth Athletes Need to Focus On Strength to Improve Speed

Increase Your Ankle Mobility to Sprint Faster

Increase Your Ankle Mobility to Sprint Faster

5 Stretches That Can Instantly Make You Faster

5 Stretches That Can Instantly Make You Faster

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

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

Get Even More Out of Your Hill Sprints With These Variations

Get Even More Out of Your Hill Sprints With These Variations

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 Agility Is Critical for Soccer Players

Why Agility Is Critical for Soccer Players

Get Faster with High-Speed Treadmill Training

Get Faster with High-Speed Treadmill Training

Sprinting Tips from Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Johnson

Sprinting Tips from Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Johnson

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

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

Resisted Sprints: Use the Right Weight to Get Faster

Resisted Sprints: Use the Right Weight to Get Faster

3 Acceleration Drills to Get Faster

3 Acceleration Drills to Get Faster

A Linear Speed Progression for Increasing In-Game Speed

A Linear Speed Progression for Increasing In-Game Speed

YardBarker