4 Speed Training Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

STACK Expert Rick Scarpulla issues a warning about four mistakes made by athletes training for speed.

I find it slightly ironic that the number one request or priority of most athletes and coaches is speed—explosive speed to be specific. Yet, it may be the most misunderstood part of their training. I have athletes and coaches who describe an approach or current training method that is actually making them slower!

You feel like you're running through mud when you're running, and you wonder what's wrong. Odds are, you are making one of these four mistakes.

Mistake 1: Focusing on Non-Speed Muscles

Working your biceps and doing quarter Squats does nothing for speed. I see a lot of guys who just want to work their mirror muscles. If they stand in front of a mirror and can see a muscle, they work it. But if you have a skinny little flat ass and no hamstrings, then you will be slow!

The weight room is where you develop the horsepower you need to get faster. Working the muscles on the backside of your body, including your glutes and hamstrings, is absolutely critical. I have my guys do Squat and Deadlift variations, and I accompany that with single-leg and assistance work, such as Split Squats and Glute Ham Raises.

Mistake 2: Always Lifting Heavy

Okay, you want to get strong. Great. But that doesn't  guarantee to make you faster. Just because you can Squat 500 pounds doesn't mean you'll be fast. You need a two-part approach to your strength training. You must work heavy weight with lower reps, but also focus on increasing your rate of force development.

Rate of force development sounds like a complicated science term, but it simply refers to the ability to explode from zero to full power as quickly as possible. To achieve this speed strength, you need to work with lighter loads out of a static position, such as with a Box Squat.

Spend half of your time training max strength and the other half working speed strength.

RELATED: 5 Weight Room Speed Exercises You're Not Doing

Mistake 3: Turning Speed Work Into Conditioning Work

Doing Gassers or repeat Sprints is not conditioning. When doing speed drills, you always need to working as close to 100 percent of your capacity as possible. How can you huff and puff your way through a drill and expect to get faster? As a good rule, rest five times longer than it takes for you to complete a speed drill. For example, if you complete a drill in five seconds, rest for 25 seconds before your next rep.

Mistake 4: Jogging 

This may be the most frequently committed infraction. Distance running is not speed work. Distance running will make you slower, not faster. As a general guideline, anything longer than 100 to 125 yards is distance. If you want to get faster, why would you run slower? Distance running is completely different in all aspects. When you distance run, your run mechanics are different. Your breathing patterns are different. Your muscle firing patterns are different. Your stride pattern is different. Recovery needs are different. Lactic build up is different. If distance running was the answer, marathon runners would be the fastest, most explosive athletes on the planet.

I'll make a deal with you. Let's each put two 100 dollar bills at the end of a 50-yard track I will take a sprinter who does no distance running and you get a marathoner. Whoever's guy gets there first gets the cash. You happy with the marathon runner as your guy?

Work on short, mid-range and some long sprints. Work deceleration and change of direction. Work hills, ladders and hurdles but for frog's sake, don't run distance thinking you're getting faster.

RELATED: Why Jogging Is Counterproductive


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: SPEED TRAINING | RUNNING | MARATHON | POWER | DRILL | TRACK | RUNNER | FASTER