When considering the physical attributes that define athletic performance, such as strength, speed, explosiveness, and endurance, speed trumps them all. If you had to choose one over the others, the wise choice is speed. In wrestling, for example, the faster athlete has the advantage no matter their strength, shape or technique. He will be able to beat his opponent for takedowns every time and escape from the bottom position much easier. These are the two main methods of scoring in wrestling and the faster athlete is in control of them. In football, the benefits of speed are obvious, from a quicker run to the goal line, better protection for your quarterback, and even a tackle. A punch from a lighter bodyweight athlete who is extremely fast hurts just as much as being hit by a heavyweight. Improving your speed will help you excel in almost any physical sport, so every athlete who wants to win and be the best should train for it. The question is how do you do it?
The best way to improve athletic speed is to take a methodical approach, incorporating different exercises and drills into many aspects of your training throughout the year. However, if you’re looking for an easier, shorter program, you can also improve your speed by simply adding a few basic concepts to what you’re already doing. As you plan your program, remember that speed has a genetic component; Some athletes are naturally much faster than others and it’s in their DNA. These athletes will still want to train for speed to try to improve on what they have or at least reach their full potential. If you’re your average Joe athlete like most of us, there’s still hope. Every athlete can greatly improve their speed through training. Even if you weren’t born with Superman speed genes, you still have some genetic potential at your current muscle mass. For most athletes, there is a high probability that the speed component of their genes remains largely untapped and underdeveloped simply due to a lack of training, if not a lack of training know-how.
Improving your speed is a tricky game that involves your nervous system and muscles at the same time. The point is to get the body’s muscles to contract more explosively through specific movements, however, all aspects of speed should be considered when developing a training program. In addition to a one-time explosive contraction, an athlete may also need speed over a longer period of time, such as B. a 40 meter sprint. Most sports require numerous repetitions of explosive contractions, not just one. All of this should be practiced, but the most important thing is to use exercises and training methods that are specific to the sport. There are several basic training methods that are known to improve speed in any athlete, regardless of sport. For the best transfer, however, drills and quick drills using sport-specific movements and scenarios are a must.
One way to improve your speed is to try to get faster and more explosive using only your own body weight. This includes fast-moving bodyweight exercises such as plyos, box jumps, knee jumps, sprints, long jumps, explosive starts, etc. Sport-specific exercises are also great for practice and are necessary for best transfer to actual performance. For example, wrestlers practice ghost shots for thousands of repetitions to develop a faster, more explosive takedown. Soccer players practice thousands of reps to explode off the line to get to their opponent first and perfect their technique. There are several ways to incorporate bodyweight exercises into your routine. One option is to give this type of workout a full session once a week for 8-10 weeks. Another option is to incorporate only a few bodyweight lifts/exercises at the beginning of other types of workouts. For example, your warm-up for leg day consists of numerous sets of box jumps.
For best speed transfer, it’s better to maintain fast-twitch bodyweight movements early in a workout. Then your nervous system is freshest and least tired. Some argue that performing bodyweight speed training at the end of a workout can potentially lead to a decrease in speed. This is because at the end of a hard workout, you will most likely have physically peaked much sooner and cortisol levels will be higher. Explosive contractions are very taxing on an already exhausted nervous system, and this can easily and quickly lead to overtraining. Because of this, it makes the most sense to do explosive bodyweight movements early in your workout. Before doing this, it is also important to stretch and warm up really well using dynamic methods. Overall, doing bodyweight speed training before a workout is a great warm-up and also improves conditioning. It should also be noted that many sports require athletes to remain explosive for extended periods of time while fatigued. With that in mind, part of your speed training should also include exercises at the end of hard workouts or right after pre-exhausting certain body parts. Choose less complex movements when doing bodyweight speed training when you’re already fatigued. For example, at the end of a tough leg day, don’t choose box jumps as they put too much strain on the nervous system and are also dangerous. A better choice is long jumps.
Aside from bodyweight explosion exercises, you can also get a lot faster by adding resistance to your speed work. An example of this is holding light weights during box jumps. A good example for wrestlers is performing ghost shots against the resistance of a training band. For sprinters, this runs while wearing a parachute or attached to a resistance band. To improve your vertical jump, practice your jump using a harness with resistance bands attached to the ground. Although these exercises are very helpful, they should not completely replace bodyweight exercises, but simply be included in the program. Bodyweight exercises should be performed first and can be used as a warm-up for the resistance bodyweight exercises. After a good dynamic warm-up, you can simply do multiple sets of these two types of speed training several times a week before your usual workout to start seeing noticeable speed gains during each session in as little as 6-8 weeks, depending on your intensity level.
For the most complete development possible, speed training should also be integrated into weightlifting. It does this by lifting sub-maximal weights as quickly as possible while maintaining control of the movement. A good example is the box squat for a quick workout. The best way to do this is to use 40-50% of your max for 6-9 sets of 2 reps. Sets are performed as explosively as possible, coming to a complete stop on the box on each rep. Contrasts like ribbons and chains are also helpful in developing speed, but better for more advanced athletes. A good way to get known results is to do box squat speed work over a three-week wave of progressive resistance. For example, on week 1, do 8/2 at 45% of your max, week 2, 8/2 at 50%, and week 3, 55%. Speed work can also be done for other exercises such as the bench press, deadlift, hang and/or power clean. When using pulling movements (like deadlifts or cleans), do 5-6 sets of explosive single sets instead of 8/2. These exercises should be performed as the first exercise during a session, followed by supporting accessories. You can also continue speed development if you do reps during accessory lifts. To achieve this, perform each rep as explosively as possible for each rep/set you perform.
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