A Faster Athlete For Any Sport

The best way to improve athletic speed is by taking a methodical approach by incorporating various exercises and drills into numerous aspects of your training throughout the entire year. However if you’re looking for an easier, shorter program, you can also improve speed by just adding a few basic concepts to the training that you’re already doing. When planning your program, keep in mind there is a genetic component to speed; some athletes are naturally much faster than others and this is wired in their DNA.

These athletes will still want to train for speed to try and improve what they’ve got or at least live up to their full potential. If you’re an average joe athlete like most of us are, there is still hope. Every athlete can greatly improve their speed by training. Even if you’re not born with superman speed genes, you still have a certain amount of genetic potential at your current level of muscle mass. In most athletes, chances are high the speed component of their genes remains widely untapped and is underdeveloped simply because of a lack of training if not a lack of training know-how.

Improving your speed is a tricky game involving both your nervous system and musculature at the same time. The point is to get the body’s muscles to contract more explosively through certain motions, however all aspects of speed should be considered when developing a training program. Besides a one-time explosive contraction, an athlete may also need speed for an extended period of time, like a 40 yard sprint. Most sports require numerous reps of explosive contractions, rather than just one. All of these should be trained for however it’s most important to use exercises and training methods specific to the sport. There are several basic training methods well known to improve speed in every athlete regardless of the sport. For the best carry over however, exercises and speed drills incorporating movements and scenarios specific to the sport is a must.

One way to improve your speed is to try to become faster and more explosive moving just your own body weight. This includes fast movement body weight exercises such as plyos, box jumps, knee jumps, sprints, long jumps, explosive starts, etc. Drills that are specific to the sport are also great to practice and necessary for the best carry over to actual performance.

For example wrestlers practice ghost shots for thousands of reps to develop a faster, more explosive takedown. Football players practice exploding off the line for thousands of reps to be first on their opponent and perfect their technique. There are several ways to incorporate body weight speed drills into your program. One way is to give this type of training an entire session of itself once a week, for 8-10 weeks. Another way is to include just a few body weight exercise/drills at the beginning of other types of workouts

For the best speed carry over, it’s better to keep fast-twitch body weight movements at the beginning of a workout. This is when your nervous system is the freshest and least fatigued. Some argue that performing body weight speed work at the end of a workout can possibly lead to a reduction of speed. This is because at the end of a hard training session, you have most likely physically peaked much earlier and cortisol levels will be higher. Explosive contractions are very demanding on an already exhausted nervous system and this can easily and quickly lead to over training. This is why performing explosive body weight movements at the beginning of your workout makes the most sense. Before doing this, it’s also important to stretch and warm up really well using dynamic methods.

Overall, performing body weight speed work before training is a great warm-up and also improves conditioning. It should also be noted that in many sports, athletes must continue to be explosive for lengthy periods of time, while they’re exhausted. Considering this a percentage of your speed training should also include drills at the end of hard workouts or right after specific body parts are pre-exhausted. When performing body weight speed work when you’re already fatigued, choose lesser complex movements. For example, at the end of a hard leg day, don’t choose box jumps as they’re too taxing on the nervous system and also dangerous to perform. A better choice is long jumps.