Strength training done right will make you faster; done wrong, it's a waste of time. If you are strength training for speed, your program must include these four building blocks.
Speed comes through the feet
Speed has two components—large ground contact forces and small ground contact times. To increase speed you need to increase force into the ground. This means most of your strength exercises should focus on exerting force into the ground through your feet. Also, sprinting is done on one leg at a time, so some exercises should be performed with a split stance or on one leg. Unlike throwing or jumping, sprinting uses both legs, so single-leg and split stance exercises should be done with both legs equally. Get off the leg press and leg curl machines, put your feet on the ground and perform Squats and Lunges.
Speed is not strength
The other component of speed, small ground contact times, also needs to be included. Olympic lifts, plyometrics and medicine ball throws train power and contribute to reducing ground contact times. Stronger biceps don't make you faster. Speed requires a complex movement pattern across multiple joints. Including compound exercises and ditching single-joint exercises are required to improve speed. Use this plyometric workout and these compound exercises to get faster.
Speed is alactic
The ATP-PC energy system provides the fuel necessary to produce maximum speed. This system can produce enough energy to fuel movements for about 8 to 12 seconds. In the weight room, you can train this energy system with sets of 8 or less at intensities greater than 85 percent of your 1RM.
Speed is a skill that needs to be practiced
Work in the weight room will contribute to increasing your speed, but practicing on the field or track must not be neglected. Practicing on the field should start with skipping drills and technique runs using a form checklist. Speed workouts include intervals between 20 and 80 meters with intensities of 90 to 100% and rest intervals long enough to maintain the necessary intensity for each sprint. Keep the total daily volume less than 400 meters.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock