Whether you are a competitive sprinter or an athlete in another sport, you can always work on increasing your speed to make yourself more dynamic. Running coaches, along with strength and conditioning coaches, have many methods for increasing speed that involve variations of sprint training, weight training, and stretching. Here are a few things you can do to increase your speed yielding quick and noticeable results.
There are a few different tools runners use that provide resistance while training, the three premier being parachutes, resistance bands, and sleds, all of which generally serve the same purpose. Attached at the waist by a harness, parachutes add natural air resistance when performing sprints and help increase power and explosiveness within the first few steps of your sprint. Do sets of parachute sprints no longer than 10-20 yards to work on that first step. Resistance bands are also a helpful training tool, teaching you to drive your legs forward and knees up in the first few steps of a sprint. Get a friend to hold a resistance band around your waist and work on an explosive first 3-5 steps.
Next exercise (if you have access to a sled), sled pushes work to increase muscle and explosiveness in the legs. These should also not be longer than 20 yards--it’s a quick burst of speed. Fully extend your arms onto the sled, tilt your body at about a 45 degree angle, and drive your legs through to the predetermined distance.
Hamstring curls are an excellent exercise that will simultaneously strengthen your hamstrings and glutes.. You can do ham curls on a weight machine, medicine ball, or slide board at the gym, either single leg or double leg. Weight machine is self explanatory, hop on it, set your desired weight, and bring the weight down with your heels back up towards your glutes. Doing ham curls on a medicine ball or slide board is slightly more tricky. When using a medicine ball, position your heels on top of the ball and lay on your back with your legs bent making a 90 degree angle at the knees. When you’re ready, press down on the ball with your heels coming up into a bridge, now resting on your scapulas and traps, and fully extend your legs. Curl the ball back slowly towards you with your heels and repeat for 8-10 reps, generally 3-4 sets is enough. Slide board works the same way. Once you have you booties on place your heels on the board, bridge up making a 90 degree angle with your knees, fully extend your legs, and curl them back in towards your glutes. Don’t let your back sag down and keep your core tight.
Stretching is perhaps the most important in maximizing speed. Your body needs to properly recover, so it can properly rebuild, so it can reach its fullest potential. Foam rolling before and after every training session is a must. It massages your muscles and loosens them up. If one area is particularly tight, roll around on it with a lacrosse ball to break up the tight tissue. Stretching helps avoid imbalances in the body and prevent injury. It is crucial to making gains and your progress will be stunted if you do not make a point of integrating it in as a serious part of your workout.
Be prepared for the biggest moments by mastering the small ones off the field.