If you’re an athlete, you already know how much speed kills. Lots of athletes out there train for speed year around but many train wrong.
I want to talk about three different important components of speed training I like to call “Triple Threat Speed Training.”
The three components of Triple Threat Speed Training are:
1. Power Acceleration Training
2. Over Speed Training
3. Speed Strength Training
If you train all of these different components together, the right way, in the right amounts, you’ll get more explosive, athletic, and faster for sure.
I’ll go ahead and explain the different type of training that’s involved with Triple Thread Speed Training. I will warn you now, I HATE science and so I will spare you the boring scientific mumbo-jumbo that goes along with a lot of this stuff. I want to get right to the point so you can use these techniques to start getting fast now! Not sit around and study it all day long.
Instead, I will talk strictly about what each component is and how you can train it. Leave all the geek science talk to your in-depth books.
Power Acceleration Training
Let’s get into the first component which is Power Acceleration Training.
One of the most important aspects of being fast is the ability to go from a stopped position to full speed in the least amount of time possible. When you are able to do this fast and efficiently, you have a lot of power and acceleration.
There are many ways to train for power and acceleration. The best ways to train for these two components are with explosive type movements such as plyometrics and light resisted running. Let me explain the two.
First, you have explosive type plyometric movements such as broad jumps, bounding, lunge jumps, squat jumps, power skips, box jumps, single leg hops, and drop jumps. You can even add in your Olympic lifts as well but with younger and new athletes, I stick to the basic plyos.
All of these movements force the body to use a high rate of force development. All this really means is that you force the body to explosively accelerate through the movements.
Now the important thing about plyometric and explosive type movements like these are that you force the body to move at full speed. It’s essential you move at full speed.
The best way to train and improve plyometric type movements is to perform them when your body is fresh. I prefer to have my athletes do plyos and other explosive type movements at the beginning of a training session with close to complete recovery times.
So for example, we would perform a set of lightly weighted squat jumps x 5 reps. After you are finished, you would rest for 60 secs up to 120 secs. You want to be fresh so you can be as explosive as you can when performing the exercise. It does us no good to perform an explosive exercise as tired as this will only train us to be half as explosive.
As far as reps go, you want to keep the reps low per set and stick around 20-30 reps per workout with explosive type movements. The goal isn’t to get totally fatigued out where a lot of athletes tend to think. It’s to have high quality, all out effort reps.
Now let’s talk about the other type of training within this first component, which is acceleration training.
In acceleration training, you want to work on going from zero to full speed as fast as possible.
Great ways to train for this is with hill sprints and resisted running drills such as sled runs, prowler pushes, and partner harness sprints.
Now, this is where a lot of athletes go completely wrong. Many athletes try to perform resisted sprints with too much resistance. When there’s too much resistance, the running form is altered which does us no good, and our running speed isn’t near the top.
Instead, we want just enough resistance to give us a challenge but not much more. If you really want to break it down, you do not want to have so much resistance that you slow your running speed down over 10%. You still want to be able to run near top speed.
So for hill sprints, the perfect angle or incline of hill to work at would be about a 15-20 degrees. I know I was wrong when I was younger running up hills over 45 degree which forced me to run a ton slower than full speed.
Now for sled sprints and other forms of resisted sprints, the same concept applies. You do not want to go too heavy and make it into a strength exercise. I see kids still running with tons of weight on the sled and they are barely moving. This is great for strength development but bad for acceleration. You want to again be able to go near top speed so go light with the weight used on the sled sprints and when you do partner harness drills, the resistance should be just enough to force the runner to explode full speed.
Over Speed Training
Let’s move onto the next component of Triple Threat Speed Training which is Over Speed Training.
I would have to say this is by far my most favorite type of speed training as there are multiple ways to do it and its fun.
The main purpose of Over Speed training is to force the body to actually run faster than its normally able to run. Doing Over Speed type training will train the body to actually be able to run faster by adaptation over time. It helps to increase your stride frequency to a higher degree.
A few examples of how to do Over Speed Training are by running downhill and partner towing drills with a bungee cord.
First, let’s talk about downhill running. When you run downhill, gravitational pull will force you to run faster than you’re normally able to do. This can be super effective but also dangerous at the same time if you do it wrong.
Just like with uphill running, we want to make sure the hill isn’t too steep. We want just enough slope to force us to run faster. If the slope is too steep, we risk running too fast and actually getting too out of control and possibly causing a potential injury. Running form still needs to be taken into effect.
Partner towing drills work great as well to force us to run faster than normal BUT there needs to be close attention to the ability of the athlete and form. Partner drills can potentially be dangerous if done incorrectly.
What you do is get into a 10ft – 15ft bungee cord with a partner. The partner takes off at about 3 quarters speed as the other person stays put. As tension builds up in the bungee, the person standing there takes off full speed. What happens in the bungee cord acts as a sling shot, pulling the person attached to it fast ahead which then forced that person to run faster than usual. This works great if you do it right!
Speed Strength Training
The final component of Triple Threat Speed Training is Speed Strength.
This is the most important component and serves as the base of all speed and athletics. All athletes need to have a base level of strength. Without it, we will not be able to produce enough force or power to efficiently run fast.
I can guarantee that if I train a young athlete that is extremely weak and slow to get stronger, he will automatically get faster at the same time, even if I don’t do any sort of speed work.
The more advanced you get, the lesser role strength actually plays as those athletes already usually posses a large amount of strength. In these instances, technique and specific running speed drills become way more important.
But for the most part, strength plays such a huge roll! The types of strength I speak about are all full body, functional strength types. Being able to perform all different types of bodyweight movements with ease is a requirement. Performing movements such as your squats, box squats, sumo squats, deadlifts, push presses, rdl’s, cleans, snatches, jerks, and lunges are very important.
The Olympic lifts are not essential but do help with explosive type speed more so than anything.
Now it’s not necessary that you must be able to deadlift a small semi truck or squat a house. What’s important is that you have very high relative strength to your body weight. An example would be for an athlete to weight 150lbs to have a 250-300lb squat. That’s exceptional and very strong. While that may not seem like much, it is for a 150lb athlete! Numbers aren’t important. Relative body strength is!
It’s important to always have a strong base of strength no matter what sport you play. The stronger you are, the better your other attributes will be.
Athletes need not be afraid of heavy weights. Getting stronger will help to build important muscle mass needed to improve explosive and accelerative type qualities as well.
The important thing to remember and keep close watch on is lifting form and technique. If the form is good and technique is sound, things will be great. It’s it the opposite, then lifting can be detrimental to the athletes speed qualities, so pay attention to the basics and stick to good form and technique!
Those that are really fast, are usually also very strong as well.
So, to become as fast as you possibly can be, you need to focus on all three components – power and acceleration, over speed training, and strength!
Get Fast and Strong!