Weight Training For Speed

jump squats for speed

How would you like to vastly improve your speed? How about improving your quickness and power? What would an increase in speed do for your performance?

What if I told you that you can substantially improve your speed and quickness in 30 days?

A total turnaround in your current performance is possible with the proper knowledge, training, and techniques.

Over the years, athletes and coaches have recognized the importance of speed and quickness but were convinced that they were purely genetic.

They were convinced that since speed and quickness were genetic, there was nothing you could do to improve these qualities. Basically, you got with what you were born with.

As a result, speed training did not exist for team sports and were basically relegated to track and field and those interested in sprinting events. Even so, track coaches put most of the emphasis on improving form and conditioning through interval training programs and wind sprints in the speed training programs.

The idea behind speed training techniques was to produce an athlete with upper and lower body movement in tune with the actual mechanics of sprinting and then condition that athlete through repeated sprints longer and shorter than the distance of the sprinting event. At the professional levels, team coaches were recruiting fast, quick athletes rather than trying to improve speed and quickness in athletes with superior playing skills.

We now know that with the proper speed training programs, speed and quickness can be vastly improved upon with an athlete with average speed genetics. You see, throughout the 1960's and early 1970's speed training was made up of the genetic theory and the two prong approach to speed improvement involving form and muscular endurance training (ie: interval training programs and wind sprints).

This kind of speed training worked fine until the United States starting losing it's sprinting competitions at Olympic events. At that time, the United States realized that there was more to improving speed than genetics and conditioning. Sprinting speed was increased not only by improving form, holding maximum speed longer, and reducing the slowing effect at the end of a sprint but also by improving acceleration and taking faster and longer steps. None of the earlier speed training programs incorporated the use of the latter two yet these were the most important.

How were the latter two the most important? If the muscles involved in sprinting were forced to move faster than ever before through methods such as sprint assisted training, speed strength training, and high speed stopping, starting, cutting, and acceleration, could an athlete permanently increase the number of steps per second and improve stride length? Of course!

We now know that genetics is not the sole factor in determining speed potential. In order for an athlete to reach their full potential they must incorporate a complete approach to improving playing speed in speed training programs. Sports coaches and speed coaches (well, the smart ones anyway) now realize this and know that with proper speed training, athletes can dramatically improve both speed and quickness.

You see, every athlete can vastly improve starting, stopping, cutting speed, acceleration, and overall playing speed. Genetics plays a role but it's not the sole determining factor of your speed potential. Genetics is just a piece of the speed puzzle. If you are missing the environment and speed training factors, the puzzle will not be complete. Regardless of the genetic makeup, any athlete can get faster with proper speed training.

How do you get faster? Regardless of the sport you are playing, you will need to:

1. Improve sprinting technique and form

2. Increase stride length

3. Improve speed endurance

4. Improve or increase the number of steps taken per second

5. Improve acceleration from a stationary position to maximum speed.

In order to acheive the above principles, you first need to assess your current condition and plan ahead. When it comes to athletic preperation and planning, most athletes and coaches use the wild guess principle. This method is not the most effective for speed training. Think about it. Why are you doing anything in training? I'm guessing you want to improve your quickness and speed, right? So how can you be sure that what you are doing is what you need to be doing?

So how do you determine what exercise you should use for speed taining? What methods should you use? How can you be sure that you are on the right track?

The answer is to know where you are now. Know your starting point.

You see, the problem with alot of today's speed training programs is that they try and use a one size fits all speed training routines. That's like having a one size fits all pant. Different people need different speed training programs as they tend to have different genetics, different starting points, different strengths and weaknesses, and different time frames to achieve their goals. The only way to gaurantee success in speed training is perform a thorough evaluation prior to beginning to train.

Here's an example. Two 19 year old male athletes both have slow 40 yard dash times. No preliminary testing has been done to determine fundamental postural, range of motion or functional movement. With only the time information, we can only conclude that both athletes need some serious speed training. However, if we had carried out the other tests, we reveal that athlete I has excellent muscle balance, good core stability, and a good range of motion in the hip structure while athlete II does not. Therefore the athletes do not have the same problem. Athlete I needs speed training while athlete II needs a period mobility and corrective work done first.

In order to assess your current state, you need to assess your speed. To do this you need a comprehensive testing battery designed to identify strengths and weaknesses and form the basis for a personal speed improvement program. Unfortunately, this is beyond the scope of this web page.

Once you assess your speed you can lay down your foundation speed training. This training will be the root of your program and will look at:

1. Improve sprinting technique and form

2. Increase stride length

3. Improve speed endurance

4. Improve or increase the number of steps taken per second

5. Improve acceleration from a stationary position to maximum speed.

Here you will start off with the general preperation. The objective is to increase the body's resources to optimum levels before beginning the trip to faster running and playing speeds. In many programs, it is unlikely that the body's resources have been developed to threshold or optimum levels. Therefore, athletes should follow an optimum based program that takes into account all the body's resources to produce an integrated program.

To improve overall speed performance you need to incorporate the necessary training movements in your training program. The only problem is trying to find the right exercises for the right training program. There are literally hundreds of exercises and training programs out there but only a handful of them are actually useful.

If you are not familiar with polymetrics, it refers to exercise that enables a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible. Polymetrics exercise are important in sports requiring high levels of speed strength to complete movements such as starting, stopping, cutting, accelerating, sprinting, jumping, and throwing.

Polymetrics takes many different forms and the activities revolve around jumping, hopping, and bounding movements for the lower body and swinging, quick action push offs, cathcing and throwing weighted objects, arm swings, and pulley rows for the upper body.

Polymetrics develop both strength and power in the muscles involved in sprinting. An athlete may have superior strength yet be unable to produce the needed power to sprint a fast 40 to 60 yard dash. The competition of some movements in sports such as sprinting involves less time than it takes for the muscles to develop a maximal contraction. For such actions, an athlete will use only 50 to 80 percent of his/her absolute strength. The key to polymetric training is to display strength as quickly and as forcefully as possible. Polymetrics is also an ideal training program for developing explosiveness and improve quickness.

The exercises in polymetrics use gravity to store energy in the muscles before the athlete immediately releases energy in the opposite direction. Polymetrics provide and important training program for team sports since speed strength is required throughout each contest.

Polymetrics is really quite simple to follow. Remember to keep these points in mind:

-Exercises should correspond to the form, muscles work, and range of motion in your sport. The main goal is to rapidly apply overload force to the muscles to improve speed strength

-The rate of the stretch is strongly tied to the effectiveness of polymetric training. The higher the stretch rate, the greater the muscle tension and the more powerful the concentric contraction in the opposite direction.

-Exercises for sprinting speed improvement should explode at the beginning of the movement and allow inertia to move the limb through the remaining range of motion.

-If it's possible, a polymetric exercise should be performed at a speed faster than you are capable of producing without some assistance.

-Exercise should fit to the correct direction of movement.

Alright, let's get to the sample training program and exercises.The following program is a low intensity polymetric training program. Remember that you are trying to improve speed strength, not speed endurance. Therefore, adequate rest and recovery between repetitions, sets, and workouts is required.

Sample Speed workout I


Squat jumps

3 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions
Rest two minutes
Try and add one to two repetitions per workout for added progresssion

Stand upright (optional: hands behind your head). Drop to a half squat and immediately jump up as high as possible. Repeat after landing. What you want to do is explode up and jump as high as you can, stressing maximum height.

Double leg ankle bounces

3 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions
Rest two minutes
Try and add one to two repetitions per workout for added progression

With your arms at your sides, jump up and forward using your ankles. immediately on landing, execute the next jump.

Lateral cone jumps

2 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions
Rest two minutes
Try and add one to two repetitions per workout for added progression

Standing to one side of a cone. Jump laterally to the other side. Upon landing on the other side, immediately jump laterally back to the starting position. This is considered one set.

Drop and catch push ups

4 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions
Rest two minutes
Try and add one to two repetitions per workout for added progression

Kneel on both knees with the upper body erect, as though standing on your knees. Place hands in front of your chest, palms down and drop your upper body to the floor, catching your weight with both elbows bent in the bottom phase of the push up position. Immediately push off with both hands to extend your arms and return to the upright position.

Keep in mind that exercise consists of repetitions and sets. One repetition consists of a series of muscle contractions with a weight or movement such as one push up. A series of repetitions is called a set. For example, 10 repetitions of push ups is considered one set. A set is the completion of a series of repetitions.

If you want to vastly improve your speed remember that you need to;

1. determine your starting point

2. determine your strengths and weaknesses

3. lay down your foundation plan

4. use specific exercises that improve your speed

5. monitor your progress on a steady basis

6. Improve in each exercise week after week

Good luck!


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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