There’s a reason people say that “speed kills.” It’s the difference maker in nearly every sport, and it can make or break you as an athlete.
Not everyone has the genetic potential to be Usain Bolt, but everyone can get faster. Follow these principles to make the most of your speed workouts. (Also try the Sprinter’s Speed Workout.)
Observe Proper Running Mechanics
- Swing arms in line with elbows, not with shoulders or hands
- Keep elbows bent at right angles
- Point eyes in front and don’t look down at feet
- Land on balls of feet and keep heels off ground
- Pick foot off ground and swing leg forward, so that upper leg is parallel to ground
- Drive against ground with every stride, and try to minimize ground time; the longer your foot stays in contact with the ground, the slower you will run
You have to train yourself to run fast. That means developing speed “muscle memory.” Perform every sprint at (or close to) maximum speed. You can’t train by performing sprints at only a percentage of your maximum speed and expect to teach your body to run at full speed.
Sprinting at maximum speed requires proper technique, so you must avoid excessive fatigue. Sprinting when you’re tired results in poor running mechanics and slower speeds.
- Recover fully between sprints, resting 30 seconds to two minutes depending on the distance
- Perform no more than three to 10 sprints during one workout
- Perform sprints at the beginning of your workout after a dynamic warm-up to ensure a high energy level
Strength training is—and should be—an important component of speed training and development. It’s best to perform lower-body lifts that strengthen multiple muscles at once, such as Squats, Deadlifts and RDLs. And since they improve acceleration and overall power, plyometrics should be an important part of your workouts.