Sprinting for Speed: How to Improve Your Sprinting Performance
The ability to run fast is one of the most fundamental skills required in sports such as running, track and field, swimming, basketball or any other sport where speed is essential. There are many factors that influence your performance during these activities. One of them is how well you can control your body’s motion while moving forward at high speeds.
One of the best ways to improve your sprinting performance is to increase the length and intensity of your sprints. A good way to do so is with weights. You may have heard that weight training improves sprinting performance because it increases muscle mass, which allows for greater force production, allowing you to accelerate faster.
However, there are some drawbacks when using weights for improving your sprinting performance. For example, if you use too much weight for your first session, then you will not be able to recover from the workout properly. If you continue doing this over time, your muscles won’t get stronger enough to withstand the stress of sprinting. Another drawback is that it takes longer than just working out with weights; it requires more time and effort to perform each session.
There are two main types of exercises that can improve your sprinting performance: plyometric exercises and explosive movements. The explosive movements help you to improve your ability to produce a lot of power in a short period of time. An example of this would be skipping, which involves the rapid release of stored energy in the form of elastic energy.
The plyometric exercises target your ability to absorb large amounts of force, which is very important for running and jumping activities. The box jumps are a good example of plyometric exercises that improve your ability to absorb large amounts of force. Although jumping exercises are a great way to improve your sprinting, it is important to start with an appropriate level of exercise and increase the difficulty only when you feel comfortable with the current level.
Sprint training is not just about running really fast; it’s also about lifting weights that allow you to run as fast as you possibly can. So while weight training may not necessarily be the most fun part of the program, it is an important part of becoming faster. A word of caution however, sprint training places a lot of stress on the muscles so you’ll want to start out slowly and increase your weights as you get stronger.
Finally, stretching is an important part of the training program because it increases the flexibility and range of motion of your muscles which allows you to move faster and more efficiently. Stretches should be performed after every workout. Static stretches should be held for at least 30 seconds and dynamic stretches should be done for 10-15 minutes.
Remember, you can’t outrun your breathing! So if you’re going to improve your sprinting performance, it helps to also improve your breathing capacity as well. This is actually pretty simple to do because all you have to do is breath!
Well, I suppose you have to breathe right… There are several types of exercises that can help you here. The best example is running itself, which increases your VO2max and the amount of oxygen that your body can process. Another good example is the intensity at which you do your stretching. For example, if you hold a static stretch for 20 seconds, that is very different than holding it for a minute or two because it increases your muscles’ need for oxygen.
By improving your oxygen intake and the efficiency of your body’s cardiovascular system, you can increase the amount of fuel that reaches your muscles and thus enabling them to work harder. Also, your muscles can work for a longer period of time and achieve their full explosive strength. This is very important when it comes to sprinting because the faster you want to go, the faster your muscles need to react and the more oxygen they need to do it.
Of course, if you spend all day sitting in front of a computer like I do… well, let’s just say that you’re gonna have a hard time improving your sprinting performance!
So remember to get up and move around every once in awhile to keep your body healthy and efficient.
So that’s about it. Like I said before, you don’t have to follow everything that’s in the program word for word. In fact I encourage you to modify it based on your own personal needs and capabilities.
For example, if you feel like you don’t need as much core training as I’ve suggested, then just do less of it. On the other hand, if running is not really your thing and you would rather do something else then by all means substitute in your own exercises. The main point of the program is to increase your speed, so anything that YOU find enjoyable and that YOU feel comfortable with will only help you reach your goals.
In any case, have fun and best of luck!
How many times per week should I do this circuit?
A. Ideally you should split this up into two separate sessions. So for example you might do it in the morning and then again in the evening, but if you only have time to do it once then try to get it into your daily routine as best as possible.
I’m not exactly a spring chicken anymore so should I even bother with this?
A. Of course! Age is no excuse. You’re never to old to improve yourself physically. Although you might not reach the same performance levels as someone in their prime, you can still make a hell of a lot of improvement even if you’re starting late. Also remember that training has benefits beyond physical improvements. It can keep you mentally sharp and fend off the effects of aging as well.
Q. I’m really out of shape.
Should I start with this program?
A. It would probably be a good idea to build up some basic fitness before you started this program. A good way to do this is just to start walking and jogging on a regular basis. Even a gradual increase in your stamina will greatly improve your performance. As an alternative you could do the beginning training from the Intermediate Program and then switch over when you feel ready.
Q. I still get really winded when I do this.
Is this normal?
A. Getting winded while exercising is a sign that your body is not used to that activity yet. However, don’t let it frustrate you. As your body gets more in shape it will happen less and less. In the meantime try to relax and not get worried about it. If it really bothers you then take more water breaks or slow down a bit.
I’m still a little unsure of my endurance, should I follow this program?
A. I certainly hope so! But seriously you should be aware that this is going to be no walk in the park. You’ll probably be a bit winded at first and it will take it’s toll on you physically to push your body this hard. However if you really want to get in shape and improve yourself mentally and physically then you need to just go for it and not worry about the pain.
What is the reason behind the odd numbers in sets and reps?
A. There is some evidence to suggest that performing exercises in odd sets (1,3,5…) rather than even sets (2,4,6…) produces slightly better results. I have not really seen any studies on the subject, it’s more of a personal theory that I formulated myself and put into action. You’ll soon find that it gets much easier as your body becomes more accustomed to the rigors of this training.
Q. I did this program and it really hurts my feet a lot.
What can I do?
A. If the pain is severe then you may be wearing shoes with poor support or they might just not fit properly. One way to test this is to wet your foot, then try to make a dent in the tip of your foot with your finger. I think that using this approach will help speed up your physical development.
What do you have to lose?
If it leaves a dent then your shoes are too tight and may be the cause of the pain. If this is the case then try wearing lighter shoes or go barefoot when exercising.
I don’t understand the warm up sets that you have listed, what are they for?
A. These are to prepare you for the exercise sets that follow them. For example when I say “warm up set 1 = 50kg x 5 reps”
Q. I’ve been training my grip every day for months and it hasn’t gotten any stronger!
What the hell?
Well to begin with let me say that I don’t doubt you, but how would you know if you were actually gaining strength and were just failing to notice it?
This is a very common problem when people first start training their grip. that means you are to do 5 reps with 50kg barbell. These are to prepare your body for the heavier weight that is to follow in set 2.
I don’t have access to a gym or any of the equipment listed, can I still do this program?
A. This program was designed with the intent of using a gym with standard weights and machines, however it can be done at home if you are creative. Although I would suggest if you really want to increase your grip strength and don’t mind the cost that picking up a set of metal plates and throwing them in a duffle bag is the way to go.
I can easily do the program as listed, is there any way that I can increase the difficulty?
A. Yes actually there is, you can add extra training sessions. This may sound counter intuitive but hear me out. If you are training at home I recommend getting some items from either your local sports store or toy shop. Ideally you need something for your fingers, and then something for your hands and forearms, ideally a stretchy rope would work for the first, and a small softball would work for the second.
I don’t want big bulky forearms and hands, can you help?
A. Yes, to prevent you from developing a set of metal pipes for arms and hands we are going to integrate your new training tools into your warm up, in fact we are going to do two sets of it before any of the heavy lifting.
What is this program?
A. This program involves doing two warm up sets with your tools of choice, follows this with the first weight training workout as normal. After this you perform two more warm up sets with your tools and then do the second weight training routine of the day. Followed by your final two warm up sets and then finish with your grip training routine.
I don’t understand why I am doing all these extra sets can you explain in more detail?
A. Sure! This is basically a way to quickly increase your overall strength and conditioning without causing any of the common problems associated with such a program. The theory is that by doing all these warm up sets and exercises you body will not have the time to fatigue and thus won’t develop any weakness in it’s muscles.
Why are there two weight training sessions and a grip training session on some days?
A. That is to take advantage of the muscles being warmed up and ready. Doing a weight training routine directly after a warm up without first fatiguing the muscles would be a great way to tear them up, but because you are warm and they are ready we can do some pretty intensive lifting without too much fear of injury. On the days where you only do one weight training routine I have added in an extra grip training session.
How long will this program take?
A. It should take around six weeks to start seeing a serious increase in your strength and endurance.
How long should I continue with this program for?
A. Once you feel your grip is strong enough you can move onto the next part of your training. Continue the program if you are interested in competing in grip events or if you want to keep developing your abilities.
If I wanted to add weight to the exercises what should I use?
A. If you want to add extra weight to the exercises you can use either extra weights or else a training partner to add resistance. If using extra weights then you will need to retweak all of the exercises as you will obviously be stronger than when you started adding them. If using a partner then only one person needs to add weight, the other can continue as normal. This is because one person will be adding weight at a time, then when they are too strong you change partners and so on.
What if I don’t have access to the tools, or equipment you have listed, can I still do the program?
A. It is best to have everything I have listed for the program as it was all selected to work in harmony and is designed to be safe for most people. That said many people still manage to follow the programs without access to certain things.
Sources & references used in this article:
Effects of light-load maximal lifting velocity weight training vs. combined weight training and plyometrics on sprint, vertical jump and strength performance in adult … by D Rodríguez-Rosell, J Torres-Torrelo… – Journal of science and …, 2017 – Elsevier
Changes in sprint and jump performances after traditional, plyometric, and combined resistance training in male youth pre-and post-peak height velocity by RS Lloyd, JM Radnor, MBADS Croix… – … Journal of Strength & …, 2016 – journals.lww.com
The effects of plyometric training on sprint performance: A meta-analysis by ES de Villarreal, B Requena… – The Journal of Strength & …, 2012 – journals.lww.com
Three weeks of eccentric training combined with overspeed exercises enhances power and running speed performance gains in trained athletes by CJ Cook, CM Beaven, LP Kilduff – The Journal of Strength & …, 2013 – cdn.journals.lww.com
Enhancing sprint and strength performance: combined versus maximal power, traditional heavy-resistance and plyometric training by ES de Villarreal, B Requena, M Izquierdo… – Journal of science and …, 2013 – Elsevier