Improve your performance with core strength, overall body strength, speed and power training. You need an integrated training approach to make you a more dynamic and powerful athlete. Integrated training just means that you cover all the training bases at the right time.
Your body needs adequate strength (including core strength) and speed strength (power) for you to reach your running speed potential.
Straight-ahead speed is important but there are other types of speed such as starting speed, acceleration speed, top-end speed, change-of-direction speed, stopping speed, closing speed and speed endurance. You should train for all types of speed particular to your sport. Quickness, which is reacting explosively without hesitation should also be trained for and will enhance your overall speed.
Master bodyweight speed drills before progressing to assisted or weight-bearing speed drills.
You need to master the basic running mechanics to become faster. Posture, arm action and leg action are keys to improving your speed.
Running alone will not give you the leg strength you will need to improve your running speed. You should strengthen your legs with exercises like squats, step ups and lunges because these exercises use the same pathways that it takes to run with speed.
Don't worry about leg extensions too much because the quadriceps will get plenty of work with other exercises. Instead, focus on strengthening the hamstrings with exercises like hamstring curls, straight-leg deadlifts and good mornings.
The quadriceps shouldn't be significantly stronger than the hamstrings. If so, you are headed for injuries such as knee ACL tears. And, don't forget about your calf muscles. The calf muscles provide at least 30% of the strength and power it takes to run fast. Use calf raises (seated or standing) to strengthen the calves.
You have to train fast to get faster! Too much distance running will defeat your goal of improving your speed. When training for speed, distance running should be kept to a minimum because it reduces explosiveness. You can condition for your sport by doing metabolic training, which is training that closely mimics your game-time competition.
Train hard and smart!
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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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