Get Faster With Two Strength Workouts

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Andrew Benford

If you want to get faster, you can't just go run on the track. Speed is a complicated blend of several components, each of which must be developed for optimal results.

My previous article, "Get Faster With This Sprint Form Checklist," offered techniques that you can implement to increase your speed. Today, I will cover the strength training aspect of speed development.

Improving Your Stride

You can improve your stride in two main areas—length and frequency. Athletes often try to increase their stride length by hurling themselves forward. This breaks the natural stride pattern and decreases stride frequency. Conversely, trying unnaturally to increase frequency will reduce your stride length.

The key to increasing both stride length and frequency is found in simple physics. The more force you put into the ground, the farther you can propel yourself forward, thus lengthening your stride. And, greater lower body strength will help you recover your leg from the stride more efficiently, allowing you to more quickly prepare for the next stride, thus increasing your stride frequency.

This is where strength training comes into play. By strengthening your lower body—particularly the backside of your body—you will be able to apply more force to the ground and move your legs faster and in a more controlled manner.

I recommend performing the following lower-body power and strength exercises to increase your speed. Perform each workout once a week and allow at least two days of rest between workouts.

Day 1 Workout

Hang Clean

  • Assume athletic stance holding bar just above knees with back flat, chest out and shoulders directly above bar
  • Explosively extend hips, knees and ankles while simultaneously shrugging with straight arms
  • Pull bar up, keeping it close to body
  • Drop under bar and catch it across shoulders in athletic stance with knees slightly bent
  • Return to start position and repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x5

Squat

  • Assume athletic stance with bar on back and feet slightly wider than hip width
  • Keeping back straight and knees behind toes, sink hips back and lower into squat until thighs are parallel to ground
  • Extend hips and knees to drive up out of squat position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x6

Calf Raise

  • Assume position on Calf Raise machine with slight bend at hips and knees
  • Drive up onto toes, fully extending hips and knees
  • Descend in a controlled manner; repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x10

Day 2 Workout

Deadlift

  • Stand at bar in Deadlift stance with feet hip-width apart
  • Grasp bar with over-under grip just outside of stance
  • Drive up to standing position, keeping back flat and chest out
  • Lower through same motion with control

Sets/Reps: 3x5

Dumbbell Rear-Foot-Elevated Split-Squat

  • Stand in lunge or stride position with back foot on bench or box
  • Hold dumbbells in both hands with arms extended at sides
  • Bend front knee to lower into lunge position until thigh is parallel to ground; keep front knee behind toes
  • Extend hip and knee to drive up to start position; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform set with opposite leg

Sets/Reps: 3x6

Calf Raise

  • Assume position on Calf Raise machine with slight bend at hips and knees
  • Drive up onto toes, fully extending hips and knees
  • Descend in a controlled manner; repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x10

After finishing the exercises, I recommend pulling a sled or a tire for three sets of 20 yards. Start by performing a Resisted March, moving as slowly as possible down the field. Once you master this, begin performing Resisted Sprints, starting in a three-point stance.

Resisted March and Sprint Coaching Points

  • Keep knees, ankles and toes up
  • Fully extend rear leg when driving off ground; keep glutes tight and heels slightly raised
  • Move arms in smooth and powerful movement pattern

Photo:  thecollegianur.com

Raymond Tucker, CSCS, a Level 1 Track Coach certified by the United States Track and Field Association, holds a doctorate in sports management, with honors, from the United States Sports Academy. He has published several articles relating to speed and strength training and has been a presenter at Frank Glacier Football Clinics. He was a strength and conditioning coach at Coffeyville Community College, and he interned at Texas Lutheran College under Coach Tom Mueller. A former junior European Karate champion, Tucker was also a competitive, drug-free powerlifter.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: STRENGTH TRAINING | LOWER BODY | CHEST | SPEED TRAINING | WORKOUTS | COACH | POWER | SPORTS | SPRINT | STRIDE | TRACK | STANCE | FASTER