When it comes to developing more head-turning, stopwatch-singeing speed, you’ve got two options. One is to increase your stride rate (how many footfalls occur in a given period of time). The other is to increase your stride length (how much ground you cover with each step). The former involves neural conditioning and a whole lot of quick-feet drills. The latter takes less finesse — build up your raw strength, and you automatically build speed. And that’s exactly the approach I take with training my pro athletes.
Think about it: The more force you are able to put into the ground, the farther you have the potential to travel each and every time your foot makes contact. It’s worth noting that you can inadvertently direct that force the wrong way — up, when you should direct it forward — but increasing your strength is without a doubt the fastest way to improve force capability. This is a critical step to becoming a more powerful athlete — especially during the formative age range of 15 to 19 years old. Follow these three guidelines to maximize the kind of muscle that can get you moving faster.
Speed Booster #1: Practice the Big Lifts
Use compound movements for the majority of your training. In other words, biceps curls and leg extensions aren’t going to build the kind of muscle that will get you moving the way, say, power cleans, squats, and deadlifts will. Involve more joints in movements, and build more full-body strength. Such movements are also good for athletes because of the coordination they require.
Speed Booster #2: Maximize time under tension.
In order to generate big muscle gains, you need to spend time under the bar. Use controlled movements and a challenging weight, and vary total volume.
Speed Booster #3: Get your butt in gear
The glutes are the biggest muscles of the lower body, and because of the role they play in hip extension, they’re critical for locomotion. Variations of deadlifts, hip thrusts, squats and swings will develop this muscle group and propel you forward — now much faster.
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