Sprinting will make you faster, but it will only take you so far. To make substantial speed improvements, you need to develop every aspect of your stride, including power and technique.
Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 and strength coach for NFL speedster Darren Sproles and dozens of other pro athletes, has his elite athletes perform the five drills below during their speed workouts. These drills and exercises will improve your stride power and efficiency, increasing your top-end speed.
Add these drills to your training program to get faster than your competition. For video instruction of each drill, check out the video player above.
RELATED: 4 Essential Speed Training Drills
Box Split Hops
By elevating your front foot on a box, this move isolates your front leg, forcing you to drive through your foot to propel your body upward. This plyometric move develops powerful quads and glutes—the important muscles needed for accelerating and driving off the ground. Since you’re only using one leg at a time, you eliminate imbalance so you’re equally powerful off each leg.
- Use a box height so your front thigh is parallel to the ground
- Explode up off your front leg
- Drive your arms to generate momentum
- React off box as quickly as possible
Sets/Reps: 2-3×10 each leg
Stadium Stair Runs
Running the stairs at your local stadium has many of the same benefits of Box Split Hops. In this instance, you’re actually running, so it teaches you to apply force into the ground to move forward. You might not reach your top speed, but the mechanics transfer over to a full sprint.
- Drive your arms with each step or hop
- Limit ground contact time
- Walk down the steps to the start after each set
- Choose larger steps for an increased challenge
- 10-20 minutes total
Resisted Leap Frogs
Resisted Leaps Frogs are another pure power move. Leap Frogs are essentially repeated Broad Jumps, which are one of the best measures of power, but Durkin makes the move more challenging by adding resistance. He also adds a Resisted Sprint after you complete the jumps, further building stride power.
- Hop forward as far as possible
- Swing your arms to generate momentum
- Spend as little time on the ground as possible
- Perform the drill with no resistance after each set
Sets/Distance: 3-4×10 yards plus a 5-yard Sprint
Single-Leg Skip Variations
Skipping variations have a few different benefits. First, they improve ground contact time. The less time your foot spends on the ground, the faster you sprint. Second, skipping improves your technique and posture. It teaches you to get full extension through each leg while keeping an upright torso—two critical elements of a powerful and efficient sprinting stride.
- Begin each set with Pogo Hops and then 5 Stationary Skips
- Maintain an upright posture
- Drive off the ball of your foot
- Pump your arms
- Progress from Single-Leg Skips to Overhead Single-Leg Skips
Sets/Distance: 2-4×10 (5 yards slow, 5 yards fast)
RELATED: 3 Skipping Drills to Improve Your Hops and Speed
Acceleration Marches might not look like much, but they reinforce technique. In particular, they teach a strong knee, powerful ground contact and strong arm drive—each of which contributes to stride power. According to Durkin, you can do variations of the Acceleration March every day to improve your technique.
- Stand tall with your core tight
- Drive your knees up until your thighs are parallel to the ground
- Pump your arms
- Start slow and pick up speed
- Progress through each variation
Sets/Distance: 2-3×10 yards each drill