Speed Training Drills For Endurance Athletes

Run Faster, Jump Higher: Top Speed Training Drills for All Athletes

BY Kyle Donsberger

Speed training is beneficial for everyone. Whether you're preparing for a casual 5k, training for a sprint tri, or just aiming to keep pace with the kids in your backyard, adding speed workouts into your routine will improve your athleticism.

Speed Training Defined

Speed training isn’t just about moving fast. It’s a carefully crafted routine that hones in on acceleration, power, and lower body strength, building not only muscle but also enhancing your body’s control and awareness. It’s the secret sauce that maximizes your athletic potential.

So, what’s the roadmap for effective speed training? It’s a multi-faceted journey, encompassing technical prowess while developing power, strength, and neural drive. Let’s delve into these intricacies.

Acing Acceleration Mechanics

Mastering acceleration mechanics is like fine-tuning the engine of a high-performance car—it’s crucial for that initial burst of speed. You’ll want to focus on driving your foot under your body, not in front of you, to minimize ground contact time and enhance forward propulsion.

You’ll also need to stabilize your upper body to optimize power transfer from your arms to the ground, ensuring a straight-line trajectory for maximum power production.

Improving Strength

Relative strength is a known factor in unlocking your speed potential. The goal is to achieve a relative strength benchmark of squatting 2-2.5 times your body weight.

This level of strength enables you to exert the necessary force to maintain an upright sprinting posture, facilitating rapid force generation. Don’t be afraid to train with heavy weights.

Developing Power

Power is the fuel that propels you forward swiftly. In essence, it’s the rate at which energy is converted per unit of time. To amp up your power for speed, you need to generate substantial muscular force in shorter time intervals.

Mastering the Sprint

The ultimate litmus test for speed training? Sprinting at full throttle. After honing the requisite skills, it’s all about translating them into action by pushing your limits and sprinting with all-out intensity.

4 Acceleration Drills

While sprinting at full speed is the most important focus, incorporating targeted drills can fine-tune your mechanics and improve your power output:

1. Switches

Transition fluidly between legs, focusing on driving force into the ground with each switch. Use overhead resistance to make this more challenging.

2. Dead Legs

Explosive knee drives from a static position help you create rapid force application.

3. Wall Drill

Controlled knee drives against a wall will help you progressively ramp up speed and intensity.

4. Bucket Hold

Establish a sturdy, upright stance using core strength. Gradually build by adding external resistance.

3 Explosive Power Drills

Explosive power is the turbocharge for your start. These drills improve your ability to generate force swiftly:

1. Bounding

Amplify horizontal and vertical force production, focusing on maximizing distance and airtime with each bound.

2. Single Leg Hop

Unilateral explosive power development to enhance dynamic balance and stability.

3. Double Leg Hop / Standing Broad Jump

Harness hip power to propel yourself forward explosively, emphasizing stable upper body positioning.

Master Your Starting Position

Perfecting your starting stance allows you to leverage newfound skills for explosive acceleration:

  • 2-Point Stance: Load up your front leg for an explosive launch, focusing on driving forward with maximal force.
  • 1st Step Explosiveness: Gradually transition to an upright position while maintaining forward momentum, priming yourself for optimal speed.

Prioritize Your Speed Training Drills

Integrate all seven drills plus the start position drills into your workout routine for a comprehensive speed-training regimen. With consistent effort, even short bursts of speed work can yield significant improvements over time.

If you want to improve your speed and acceleration, I recommend speed training at least two times per week. If you don’t have the extra time, try breaking it up into smaller chunks. Do 10 minutes of sprint drills at the end or beginning of a workout. Those minutes add up and can lead to big changes.

Regardless of your fitness aspirations, speed work is a game-changer. Whether you’re dominating the field or chasing after your kids, mastering these drills will transform you into a force to be reckoned with!

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Kyle Donsberger
About Kyle Donsberger

Kyle Donsberger is a CSCS, lifelong athlete, and owner of Impulse Athletics. As a current member of the Canadian Skeleton Team and 2012 & 2016 Olympic Trials semi-finalist in the 400 meters, he knows a thing or two about speed training.

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