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How to Develop Speed

How to Develop Speed – By Sean Wells
Graph of the Force Velocity Curve
Force – Velocity Curve

The truth about speed training is that there are drills and applications to show off what an athlete already possesses and then there are exercises that build speed. We want to highlight the best applications of how to Develop Speed.

The thing that we need to understand is that more running will not develop more speed – that is a a common misconception. Instead what we need to focus on is decreasing ground contact time and increasing ground contact force. Here are a few ways to do it.

To get someone to run faster we need to achieve two different things – one is to improve stride distance( To be clear – we are not coaching “bounding” we are trying to increase the bodies strength to “propel us into the next step” not changing the length of the stride necessarily) the other is increase stride frequency. Quite simply, if we can increase an athlete’s propulsion or how much distance each step is covering and also decrease the amount of time the foot is on the ground we will be decreasing ground contact time and successfully improving an athletes speed.

The force-velocity curve above shows the relationship between force and velocity critical in running faster.

How do we do those two things? Very simply we increase force and increase velocity each week with our strength training. OC Sports Performance classes have a max effort day for the lower body and upper body each week to build maximal force. Two days a week we have a dynamic effort day for the lower and upper body to increase velocity. They system described is the Conjugate System. This system produces tremendous speed advantages as well as great strength gains.

In addition to these four days of training with our Sports Performance classes we also have our athletes drag sled.

The sled drag is performed by attaching a weightlifting belt to the athlete. This over-stride builds their posterior chain muscles that propel (hamstrings, glutes, hips, calves). Sled work is a low impact way to build volume in the muscles needed to run. The sled allows an athlete to perform a great amount of work without getting injured. An athlete is going to perform well they need to be healthy – sled drags allows the athlete to get work in and stay healthy. It is quite simply the best thing you can do to increase speed, and decrease soft tissue injuries associated with chronic overuse.

Besides sled walks, we teach athletes how to produce force by having them do box jumps.

Suggested reading: 1. Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches 2. Strength Manuel for Running, 3. Underground Secrets for Faster Running, to name a few!

* Depth jump is performed when an athlete drops off a box, lands briefly absorbing the shock, and then immediately jumps as high as possible. The landing period (or amortization phase) is usually less than 0.2 seconds. The shock from the drop can be three to four times the person’s bodyweight. The amount of force generated makes it dangerous for lower level athletes.

Interested in helping your athlete run faster?  Book a Free Consult today!

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