It may come as a surprise to many men and women that speed is something that can be trained, whether your area of activity involves athletic pursuits, like sprints and hurdles, or endeavors that focus more heavily on strength. What should not come as a surprise is that speed is important; in fact, it can make the difference between a first and a second place finish, or even setting a world record. What is also important to note is that speed workouts can increase your speed, even if it means merely changing the way you train.
For athletes that care about speed, which is most of you, these speed workouts can make the difference.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PERFECTING YOUR FORM
Before we dive headfirst into the 10 techniques that can help enhance your speed we need to address some common issues that often impact speed. People often think about form as a quality that is important in strength training, but the value of form in speed cannot be understated. Just as swimmers will do all they can to gain that half-second advantage over their competitors, from shaving their bodies to using the most aerodynamic suits available, form is critically important when dealing with speed. The proper form can give you just enough of an advantage to cross the line before your rival.
There are several important things to keep in mind when it comes to form. Form is not merely how you stand or what your starting position is; form also means paying attention to where your hands, arms, and shoulders are and how they are moving both individually and as a unit. Form means paying attention to how many steps you take during a short sprint or jog.
Even how you breathe can be considered an element of form. It may seem unimportant to focus so heavily on these things, but in speed trials, every second counts, and incorporating enhancements of form into your speed workouts can make all the difference in the world.
REMEMBER TO STRETCH
Remembering to stretch is the second major element of speed that men and women interested in improving their speed often overlook. Speed workouts and helpful tips focus on stretching effectively. As we will see in a minute, there happens to be more to stretching than merely just stretching. Indeed, stretching in ways that do not benefit the type of activity that you are engaging in may be useless and a waste of time. Many experts argue that your stretch should actually be an activity that mimics the type of muscle movements that you will use in your primary athletic activity.
10 SPEED WORKOUTS, TIPS, AND TECHNIQUES
Below we will talk about the speed workouts and tips you can use to be the best athlete or fitness enthusiasts you can be. The goal of these workouts and tips is to improve your speed. They may seem like minute tweaks, but using these speed workouts and tips together can drastically change your game to make you more competitive in your athletic arena. Every athlete wants to play at the highest level they can and these speed workouts and tips will give you the edge to reach your full potential as a competitor in a competitive arena.
Use Lighter Shoes
This is a tip that many athletes take advantage of (at least the smart ones), and it harkens back to the few words we mentioned regarding swimmers. Lighter shoes will provide less resistance when you run and less weight for you to pull against in your push forward. Lighter shoes will make you lighter on your feet, which will lead to quicker starts and quicker finishes. You may even notice how fast you’ve become in your speed workouts.
Pay Attention to Breathing
This tip is key to improving your performance as an athlete. It can even be incorporated into speed workouts as a form of practice before you get to the big game or athletic performance. You should focus on breathing in through your nose and mouth at once during periods where speed is essential, like sprinting. This allows you to deliver as much oxygen to your organs as possible, allowing your body to push forward in the race against your competitors and the clock.
Alternate Jogs and Sprints
This is an important technique to incorporate into your speed workouts in order to effectively train for speed. Alternating between periods of great bursts of activity and more endurance pursuits teaches your body to operate on a hair trigger when it comes to speed. Your body will learn to quickly change from one type of activity to the next, and your muscles will learn to operate in an effective and coordinated fashion.
Count the Number of Steps You Take
This is another important technique to incorporate into your speed workouts. Efficient runners number nearly 200 steps per minute and they do this by running in such a way that their feet rarely seem to leave the ground. This, naturally, differs from endurance runners, but as we are focused on speed here, increasing the number of steps you take while running can make a difference. To find out how many steps you take, run for about a minute and count the number of times your right fit touches the pavement. Multiply by two to arrive at the total number of steps.
Try Jump Training
Activities that improve how your muscles operate together during quick bursts of activity will enhance your speed. Plyometrics, or jump training, is a great activity for speed workouts because they not only involve these quick bursts of activity, but they can also enhance strength and lead to hypertrophy of those muscles and muscle groups that are important for speed.
Warmups that Do More than Stretch
We touched on the importance of stretching earlier, but it is important to note that the best warmup activities should not merely involve stretching. Warmups should involve actions that mimic the main action, therefore a warmup for a sprint should involve some form of running or sprinting so that the muscle groups to be used later are activated in a coordinated fashion. This is not just to get them ready for the strenuous activity, but it enhance how speedily they complete their desired function.
Train for Speed
Training for speed seems like a no-brainer, but it is an easy thing to overlook. Speed workouts that train for speed would include things like practicing your sprint takeoffs to make sure you are as fast getting out of the gate as you are coming back into it. This also incorporates the issue of form that was touched on earlier, allowing you to incorporate that form into a speedy, cohesive movement that will put you ahead of the competition.
Focus on Bursts of Activity
Speed workouts and training exercises that focus on bursts of activity are very important for training and encouraging speed. Our muscles may have a great capacity when it comes to strength and speed, but they do not reach that capacity unless we stress them to do it. That means that if you want your muscles to act in a fast and coordinated way, you need to train them to do that. Speed competitors should focus on speed workouts and training exercises that focus on bursts of activity that encourage speed rather than endurance type activities.
Focus on Core Muscles
Focusing on strengthening your core muscles is an important way to turn your body into a speed machine. This is an important thing to point out, because this technique of training critical speed muscles works in tandem with the bursts of activity and other speed maneuvers you will use in your speed workouts. The core muscles that are important for speed include the abdominal muscles, glutes, thighs, hamstrings, and lower back muscles. Making these muscles stronger increases the capacity for them to work and gives you the speed you need for your athletic pursuits.
Use the Correct Technique
This tip is so nice we had to mention it twice. We cannot stress enough how important it is to pay attention to where your arms, shoulders, and hands are when you are running. The fastest runners know that most of their movement should be in the shoulder while the arms and hands should have as little movement as possible. This reduces the resistance or drag that keeps your body from moving forward as quickly as possible. It also prevents your body from directing energy away from the critical muscle groups for speed. The proper technique is key to being the fastest you can be.
If speed was easy, everyone would be fast. Fortunately, there are some speed workouts and tips that you can use to help give you the proverbial leg up on the competition. Paying attention to your breathing, your number of steps, and using proper technique are easy enough that there is no reason not to incorporate them into your speed training. If you do not pay attention to these things, you may end up kicking yourself later.