Here's How to Boost Your First-Step Speed

STACK Expert John Cissik outlines three ways to improve your acceleration and first-step quickness, then follows it up with a 12-week program.

First-Step Quickness

In sports like soccer and football, where you don't sprint in long, straight lines, the ability to accelerate quickly is tres important. If you aren't fast right out of the box with your first-step quickness, you won't be at full speed when it's time to make your move.

Here are some ways to get that first step up to speed.

1. Building Strength

Fundamental law of physics: Your body wants to stay at rest. It takes force to get it moving. The more strength you have in your lower body, the more force you can apply—and the faster you can move. In the gym, focus on Squats and hip extensions like Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlifts and Good Mornings. On the track, use resisted sprinting exercises, especially with 5- to 10-yard sprints.

2. Using Strength

You not only need to be strong, you need to learn how use your strength. Plyometrics, medicine ball throws and the Olympic lifts all teach you how to use strength quickly. Some of the best exercises here include the Standing Long Jump, Bounds, Clean- and Snatch-Grip Pulls, and the Medicine Ball Toss.

3. Perfecting Technique

When accelerating, you run on the balls of your feet, lifting your knees high and driving your arms back powerfully as they swing. You can practice your form using short sprints and speed technique drills.

The following is a 12-week workout to help you work on these areas, geared around training three days per week. The first day focuses on getting stronger, the second on using that strength and the third on acceleration technique.

First-Step Speed Workout Weeks 1-4

Day One

Warm up: 10-15 minutes (jog, mobility exercises)
Back Squats: 3x12-15@60-70% max
Lunges: 3x12-15 each leg
Romanian Deadlifts: 3x12-15
Back Raises: 3x12-15

Day Two

Warm up: 10-15 minutes (jog, mobility exercises)
Clean-Grip Pulls, hang, bar begins above knees: 3x4-6@70% Power Clean max
Standing Long Jump: 10x
Bounds: 3x20 yards
Medicine Ball Toss, front: 10x

Day Three

Warm up: 10-15 minutes (jog, mobility exercises)
High Knee Walk: 2x10 yards
High Knee Skip: 3x10 yards
A-Walk: 2x10 yards
A-Skip: 3x10 yards
Sprints: 5x5 yards

First-Step Speed Workout Weeks 5-8

Day One

Warm up: 10-15 minutes (jog, mobility exercises)
Partner-resisted sprints: 5x5 yards
Back Squats: 3x8-12@70-80% max
Lunges: 3x8-12 each leg
Romanian Deadlifts: 3x8-12
Reverse Hyperextensions: 3x8-12

Day Two

Warm up: 10-15 minutes (jog, mobility exercises)
Clean-Grip Pulls, hang, bar begins above knees: 3x4-6@70% power clean max
Standing Long Jump + sprint: 10x (1 jump + 10 yard sprint)
Bounds: 3x20 yards
Medicine Ball Toss, front: 10x

Day Three

Warm up: 10-15 minutes (jog, mobility exercises)
High Knee Walk: 1x10 yards
High Knee Skip: 3x10 yards
A Walk: 1x10 yards
A Skip: 3x10 yards
Sprints: 5x10 yards

Weeks 9-12

Day One:

Warm up: 10-15 minutes (jog, mobility exercises)
Partner-resisted sprints: 5x10 yards
Back Squats: 3x4-8@80-90% max
Lunges: 3x4-8 each leg
Romanian Deadlifts: 3x4-8
Good Mornings: 3x4-8

Day Two

Warm up: 10-15 minutes (jog, mobility exercises)
Clean-Grip Pulls, hang, bar begins above the knees: 3x4-6@70% Power Clean max
Standing Long Jump + sprint: 10x (1 jump + 10 yard sprint)
Bounds + Sprint: 3x (20 yard bounds + 10 yard sprint)
Medicine Ball Toss, front + sprint: 3x (1 throw + 10 yard sprint)

Day Three

Warm up: 10-15 minutes (jog, mobility exercises)
High Knee Walk: 1x10 yards
High Knee Skip: 3x10 yards
A-Walk: 1x10 yards
A-Skip: 3x10 yards
Sprints: 5x10 yards

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: SOCCER | WARM-UP | POWER CLEAN | SPEED WORKOUTS | WORKOUTS | MOBILITY | POWER | PULLS | CLEAN | SPRINT | THROW | LIFTS | TRACK | MEDICINE BALL