Warming up is a vital part of speed training. It prevents injury by gradually increasing the intensity of the exercise (so your body has time to adjust) and making your tissues more resistant to pulls. It prepares your muscles, joints and nervous system for performance.
That said, most people have challenges warming up for speed training because they don't know what else to do besides run. Here is a routine to get you started.
Begin with three to five minutes of some type of whole-body rhythmic exercise. It could be a Jog, Jumping Rope, Kettlebell Swings, Battling Ropes, etc. The idea is to raise your heart rate, get your blood moving and get a light sweat going.
Next, switch to target exercises for sprinting. Perform each exercise for 10-20 repetitions or yards (depending upon the exercise). Do 1-3 sets of each of these. If you do more than one set, separate the sets with a 10- to 20-yard jog.
Leg swings loosen up the hips. Stand next to a wall so that your left side is near the wall, and place your left hand on the wall for balance. Keeping your right leg straight, swing it forward and backward as far as you comfortably can. After you perform the desired number of repetitions, turn around and swing your left leg.
After swinging your leg forward and backward, turn to face the wall. Place your right hand on the wall and place your right foot in front of your body. Keeping your right leg straight, swing it from side to side as high as is comfortable. After the desired number of repetitions, switch sides.
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Inchworms are great for warming up and strengthening the hamstrings. Begin in the Push-Up position. With your hands in place, walk your feet toward your hands, keeping your legs straight. Once your feet reach your hands, walk your hands forward until you are back in the push-up position. Repeat for the desired distance.
Reverse Crab Walks
This is another great hamstring exercise. Sit down. Place your hands next to your hips, bend your knees and place your feet on the ground. Lift your hips so your legs and arms are supporting your weight. While maintaining this position, walk backward on your hands and feet for the desired distance.
High Knee Hurdles
This exercise helps to warm up the quadriceps and the hip flexors. Set up mini-hurdles separated by at least two of your feet-lengths. Standing up tall with your hands behind your head, walk forward over the hurdles. Lift each knee until it is at least even with your waist. Your foot should remain flat throughout the drill.
Stride Length Hurdle Drill
Set up four to six mini-hurdles. Set the first hurdle one or two of your feet-lengths from the start line. Set each subsequent hurdle a little farther than the one before it, so that the last two hurdles have the greatest distance between them. Perform several repetitions of this drill, increasing your speed with each.
Fast Leg Drill
This drill puts everything together. Take a step forward with your left foot. With your right foot, quickly bring your heel to your hip and cycle your leg forward so you lift your knee up, then drive your foot to the ground. Continue alternating for the desired distance, then switch legs.
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