How to Optimize Your Speed Training with Resistance Bands

How STACK Velocity trains athletes to achieve the highest stride frequency and stride length to maximize their speed.

Maximum velocity, a.k.a. top-end speed training, is one of the ways we enhance athleticism at STACK Velocity Sports Performance.

Our goal is the get our athletes to achieve the highest stride frequency and stride length to maximize their speed.

Key factors include alignment, activation and arrangement.

Alignment refers to posture—maintaining an upright vertical position with shoulders slightly in front of hips and butt tucked under the torso. This position allows the glute and hamstring muscles to apply large amounts of downward force and help the hip flexors efficiently recover the leg for the next stride.

Activation and application of force are critical during all phases of sprinting. The athlete must generate a ton of force in the least amount of time with great accuracy. The direction in which force is applied into the ground contributes to the horizontal propulsion of the athlete, which directly correlates to speed. Developing the hip extensors (gluteal and hamstrings) greatly enhances horizontal force production.

Significant gains in speed during the maximum velocity phase are also achieved by improving biomechanical components. These gains are predicated on the permanent re-education of the athlete's movement patterns. The subcomponents are stride length, stride frequency, stride cycle, and arm action.

Stride cycle can be further broken down into six components:

  1. Residual. From the moment the toe leaves the ground until the thigh begins to move in a positive direction.
  2. Recovery. From the moment the thigh begins to move forward until the thigh stops at full flexion (blocked position).
  3. Transition. From the moment the thigh is decelerated (blocked) until the thigh begins to re-accelerate in a negative direction.
  4. Ground Pre. From the re-acceleration of the thigh in a negative direction until the foot contacts the ground.
  5. Frontside Ground. From the instant of ground contact until the center of mass is over the base of support.
  6. Backside Ground. From the midstance of support over the foot until the foot loses contact with the ground.

Because sprinting is a highly technical skill, it can be difficult to train each phase of the stride cycle at once while running. By using resistance bands to train each phase individually, the athlete can learn proper mechanics while still producing a great amount of force that will optimize his or her stride length and stride frequency.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock