Explosive Speed Workouts
Explosive speed is necessary if you want to excel at any sport that requires quick running speed, such as track, soccer, football and lacrosse. To build explosive speed, a three-pronged program that includes speed drills, strength training and plyometrics exercises will train your muscles to accelerate quickly and sustain speed as you sprint.
Before you start training for explosive speed, you'll need a good pair of running shoes, a stopwatch and access to a track and strength training equipment. Always practice basic exercise safety by warming up your muscles before every session and finishing with a cool down period and full-body stretches. To see a measure of your explosive speed improvement, have a friend time you weekly as you sprint 100 meters. Over time and with practice you should see a noticeable improvement in your overall sprinting time.
Speed It Up
Speed training drills are a necessity when you want to train for explosive speed. Speed drills address and aim to improve your muscle's capacity to function anaerobically without relying on oxygen. According to the "US Track & Field Coaching Manual" in explosive sprinting drills you should aim to run at 90 to 95 percent of your maximum ability. To build explosive power try the speed drill "Ins and Outs" three times per week. For the first three weeks of training sprint as fast as you can for 20 meters, run at an easy pace for 20 meters and finish with 20 more meters of sprinting. Repeat this sequence three more times. After week three, switch to 30 meters fast, 30 meters easy and 30 meters fast, completing five repetitions total.
Pump It Up
Strength training exercises that target your entire body, not just the legs, can contribute to explosive speed. Aim for three training days where you focus on strength training and schedule at least one day of rest in between each training session. On your off days, running, sprint training and other cardiovascular exercise is encouraged. As you begin training, start with light weights and high repetitions, working each muscle until it fatigues. Every two to three weeks, increase the amount of weight incrementally and decrease the number of reps. Recommended strength training exercises include snatches, squats, lunges with weights, bench presses and power cleans.
Plyometrics are different types of jumps that teach the muscles to lengthen eccentrically and improve neuromuscular reflexes. While the jumps may seem simple, they are a powerful and effective tool for increasing your explosive speed. Aim to perform plyometric exercises two times per week, combined either with sprinting training or strength training. Allow one to two days of rest in between plyometrics sessions. Examples of plyometric exercises include tuck jumps, single-leg hops, bounding, jumping on and off boxes or benches and jumping on and off an incline. For a balanced plyometric session, choose five jumping exercises and perform five repetitions of each jump.
Explore In Depth
- USA Track & Field Coaching Manual; Joseph L. Rogers
- Plyometrics for Athletes at All Levels; Neal Pire
- Taipale RS, Mikkola J, Salo T, et al. Mixed maximal and explosive strength training in recreational endurance runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(3):689-99. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182a16d73
- Baker D. Acute effect of alternating heavy and light resistances on power output during upper-body complex power training. J Strength Cond Res. 2003;17(3):493-7.
- DeWeese, B. H., Hornsby, G., Stone, M., & Stone, M. H. (2015). The training process: Planning for strength–power training in track and field. Part 2: Practical and applied aspects. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 4(4), 318–324. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2015.07.002
- Current Comments, The American College of Sports Medicine. Explosive Exercise. July 1999.
- Marián V, Katarína L, Dávid O, Matúš K, Simon W. Improved Maximum Strength, Vertical Jump and Sprint Performance after 8 Weeks of Jump Squat Training with Individualized Loads. Journal of sports science & medicine. 2016;15(3):492–500.
Published author, yoga teacher and health and wellness expert Nicole Carlin has written professionally since 2005. Her two non-fiction books "Chakra Detox" and "Hot Yoga, Hotter Sex" reflect the rigorous academic knowledge she brings to the wellness industry. Carlin holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Master of Arts in sexuality.