Speed is an advantage for any athlete, whether you’re a runner, a basketball player, or a martial artist! Incorporate speed drills and sprints into your regular workout routine to become faster on your feet. Speed necessitates strength and stability, so incorporate some strength training into your weekly routine.
Method 1 Form Exercises for Runners
1. Strides can help you improve your running form and stamina. Strides are slower and easier than sprints, allowing you to focus on running correctly rather than exhausting yourself. To do strides, run for 15-30 seconds at your fastest comfortable pace—that is, the fastest you can run while remaining smooth and not out of breath. Aim for 8 sets of 20-30 second strides, followed by 1-2 minutes of easy jogging between sets.
Strides work best when combined with a light, easy run. Strides should be done 2-4 times per week, preferably in the second half of a longer run.
During a stride, try to run at 70-80 percent of your maximum speed.
You’ll be able to run more smoothly and comfortably at higher speeds with practise.
2. Perform “fast arms” exercises to improve upper body form and running speed. Stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart in front of a mirror. Bend your arms 90 degrees at the elbows. Place your hands on either side of your body, one next to your face and the other next to your buttocks. Pump your arms as if you were sprinting as fast as you can for a full 20 seconds, keeping your elbows bent. With each pump, switch your hand positions. This exercise will not only help you improve your upper body speed, but it will also help you master better running form.
When you return to the starting position, your hands should brush past your pockets. Don’t allow your shoulders to hunch.
When you first start out, do 5 sets of 20 seconds each. Increase the time between repetitions to 30 seconds as your strength and speed improve. Aim to perform this type of drill 2-3 times per week, in addition to other speed and agility exercises, or incorporate it into your regular warmup routine.
When your arms work in tandem with your legs, they actually help you run faster!
3. With “fast feet” drills, you can practise coordinating your arm and leg movements for running. Stand in front of a mirror, knees and shoulders forward, and feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows to 90° and place one hand on your face and the other on your back, just as you would for a “fast arms” drill. Pump your arms this time while running in place as fast as you can, bringing your knees up about half as high as you can. Continue sprinting for about 20 seconds, then rest for a minute.
As you run in place, keep your feet on the balls of your feet. Keep your heels off the ground.
Attempt to touch your feet to the ground as many times as you can in 20 seconds. Perform 5 sets of 20 seconds, with a 1-minute rest in between. Aim to perform this exercise 2-3 times per week, in addition to “fast arms” and other speed drills.
Count how many times your right foot touches the ground in 20 seconds to keep track of your progress from one drill to the next. You should notice a difference over time!
Method 2 Endurance and Stamina Drills
1. To avoid injury, begin any run with a dynamic warmup. Warm up before you run, whether it’s a light jog or an intense sprint. This will improve circulation and reduce the likelihood of straining your muscles or putting stress on your heart. Do 2-3 sets of each of the following exercises, for example:
Spider-Man stretches his legs. In a plank position, bring your right knee up to your right elbow while keeping your foot flat on the ground. Hold for 3-4 seconds before switching sides. Perform 8-10 reps.
Bounces. Stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet bouncing. Lower your heels all the way to the ground while maintaining your weight on the balls of your feet. Bounce 12-15 times for each set.
Jumping jacks are a type of exercise that involves jumping from one position to another Perform 12-15 reps, resting 30 seconds between sets.
Shifts to the side. Bend your knees slightly and place your feet shoulder-width apart, then shuffle sideways for 5–10 metres (16–33 ft), like a crab. Return to your starting position and repeat the shuffle 2-3 times more.
2. Sprint for 20–30 m (66–98 ft) to increase speed and endurance. Begin incorporating faster sprints into your routine as you perfect your form on slower runs. Run as fast as you can for about 20–30 metres (66–98 ft). When you’ve finished your run, walk back to the start and rest for 30-45 seconds. Repeat the sprint four or five times.
As you become more comfortable with intense sprints, you can work on increasing the distance and number of reps you do in a session.
Sprints and other high-intensity or high-speed workouts should be done no more than once or twice per week.
3. High-intensity interval training can help you improve your overall fitness. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, can help you become more powerful and quick on your feet. It’s also excellent for increasing endurance! Choose a favourite cardio exercise, such as running or cycling, and do a short workout (e.g., 20-30 minutes) in which you alternate between going at an easy pace and going as fast as you can. Once or twice a week, do an HIIT workout. For example, you could:
Begin with a 5-minute warmup at a moderate pace.
Sprint as fast as you can for one minute.
For 2 minutes, switch to a comfortable run.
For the next 10-15 minutes, alternate between 1-minute sprints and lighter 2-minute runs.
Finish with a 5-minute cooldown, such as walking at a leisurely pace.
4. To increase your stamina, go on long, slow runs at least once a week. Slower runs help you build endurance so you can train longer and harder. Do a long, slow run at a light to moderate intensity at least once a week. You’ll notice that the more intense exercise becomes easier with time!
For example, you could begin by running 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) at an easy pace once a week, then gradually increase your distance as your strength and stamina improve.
Method 3 Plyometric Exercises
1. Plyometric training should be done twice a week. With quick, powerful movements, plyometric exercise increases speed and strength. Plyometrics should be done twice a week, according to fitness experts. Allow yourself 2-3 days of rest between sessions because this type of exercise is quite strenuous.
If you don’t get enough rest in between sessions, you risk injuring yourself or becoming too tired to work out!
During a workout, keep the number of reps low and rest between sets. When you first start out with a new exercise, you might do as few as 3 reps or work in 10-second bursts, then rest for up to 2 minutes before moving on to the next set.
2. Chest passes help you develop explosive upper-body strength. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, facing a wall (or a partner), to strengthen your upper arms and chest. Hold a medicine ball close to your chest with your elbows bent. Pull your arms back slightly, then push through your elbows to forcefully throw the ball.
If you’re working with a partner, have them catch the ball and return it to you. If you’re doing the drill against a wall, bounce it hard against it and try to catch it as it returns. In either case, place yourself about 10 feet (3.0 m) away from your target.
Use a heavier ball to make the exercise more difficult.
3. Overhead throws will help you gain strength in your shoulders. Stand with your back to a wall for this exercise. Grab a medicine ball with both hands, then stand with one foot in front of the other and slightly bend your knees. Raise the ball over and behind your head, then throw it as hard as you can against the wall. When it bounces back, catch it and throw it again.
This is an excellent exercise for any sport that requires overhead arm movements, such as basketball, swimming, or tennis.
4. Multi-directional hops strengthen your core and improve your reaction time. Hops help you build leg power, but they also require a lot of core action to keep you stable. Set up 2-4 cones or other small objects that you can easily jump over to practise multidirectional hops. Backwards and forwards, or from side to side, jump or hop over them. Change it up by jumping with both feet or just one.
Do 2-4 sets of 4-6 jumps in each direction for the best results. Rest for 45-60 seconds between sets.
5. A “high knees” drill will help you lengthen your stride. Going fast is more than just taking more steps in a short period of time. You will also travel faster if you have a longer stride! Create a longer stride by sprinting in place while raising your knees to hip level in a motion similar to pedalling a bike. Make sure to maintain proper form while pumping your arms!
Perform the high-knee sprint 5 times, 20 seconds at a time, with a minute rest in between.
High-knee sprinting will also strengthen your leg and core muscles, providing you with the strength and endurance you need to go faster.
Squats are another excellent way to increase your strength and stride length.
Method 4 Agility and Flexibility Drills
1. Dynamic stretches will help you increase your flexibility and range of motion. Instead of holding the stretch, you keep moving in a dynamic stretch. These stretches not only help to loosen your joints and muscles, but they also help to improve your speed and agility! They’re also great for warming up your muscles, so you can incorporate them into your regular warmup before cardio. Experiment with stretches like:
Leg swings and arm swings
2. Skipping drills will help you become faster on your feet. Skipping is a lot of fun, and it’s also a great way to improve your speed and agility. Push up from the ground with the balls of your feet, raising your knees high and pumping the opposite arm up towards your face. With each skip, try to pick up your feet as quickly as possible.
To increase strength and speed, make your skips fast and powerful.
Begin with 5 sets of 20 seconds each, resting for 1 minute between each set.
3. Ladder drills will help you improve your agility. Arrange an agility ladder in front of you on the ground. Step one foot into each space on the ladder as quickly as you can until you reach the top, then turn around and go back the other way. With practise, you’ll become more agile and quick at crossing the ladder.
As you gain confidence, try more difficult drills, such as hopping into each square with both feet or alternating jumps with your feet together and then slightly apart, so your feet touch the outer edges of each square.
If you do not have access to an agility ladder, draw some chalk lines on the sidewalk or use the lines between floor tiles as foot guides.
Aim to complete these drills for a total of 10 minutes per session, up to 5 days per week. You can incorporate them into your regular cardio routine if you want.
4. With wall tosses, you can improve your upper body reaction time. Stand 3–4 feet (0.91–1.22 m) away from an uneven-surfaced wall, such as brick or cinderblock. Toss a tennis ball underhand against the wall, catch it, and toss it again. The bumpy surface of the wall will cause the ball to bounce in unpredictable directions, so be prepared to move quickly to catch it!
Perform 4-6 sets of this drill, then rest for 1-2 minutes before proceeding to the next exercise. This type of drill can be incorporated into your regular cardio routine.
As you improve at catching the ball, try throwing and catching with opposing hands.
You can make the game even more difficult by shuffling your feet as you throw and catch the ball.
Method 5 Strength Training
1. Strengthen your muscles by doing strength training once or twice a week. Going fast necessitates power and stability, so devote 1-2 days per week to strength training. To avoid imbalances, alternate between different muscle groups.
You can do strength training at home even if you don’t have access to a gym! Concentrate on body weight exercises or exercises that can be done with simple free weights like dumbbells.
In general, aim for a single set of 12-15 reps of each exercise.
However, if you’re just starting out, you might want to start with fewer reps, such as 8-10.
2. To power your lower body, focus on your glutes. You need strong glutes if you want to be quick on your feet! Strengthen your buttocks by performing exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and planks.
The kettlebell goblet squat is an excellent glute workout. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell against your chest and place your feet about shoulder-width apart. Maintaining a straight back and shoulders, lower your hips as far as you can toward the floor, then slowly push back up to a standing position.
Glute bridges, clamshells, and single-leg squats are other options.
3. Walking lateral lunges will help you strengthen your hips and knees. Step to one side, allowing your hip to drop to that side while keeping your toes straight ahead and your knee directly over your foot (not in front of it). Move your other leg over to join the first, then repeat the process to continue moving sideways. Perform 8-10 repetitions.
This type of exercise will improve your stability and make you less likely to injure yourself when you run, bike, or participate in other activities that require quick legwork.
4. Knee bends help to strengthen your knees. Stand with your back to the wall, feet shoulder-width apart, and toes turned out. Slowly slide down the wall by bending your knees until they are directly over your feet, then slowly stand up straight.
Do a set of 8-10 repetitions of this exercise.
5. Standing calf raises will help to strengthen your calves and ankles. Few things will slow you down more than a sprained ankle! Stand on the edge of a step or stool with your feet hip-width apart to build lower leg strength. For support, grab a railing or a counter. Slowly raise your toes, then lower your heels as far as they will go. Aim for 8 to 10 repetitions.
You will be less likely to injure your knees and hips if you strengthen your ankles!
6. Core exercises can help you improve your overall stability. Your core, which includes the muscles in your back, sides, and abdomen, must be strong in order for the rest of your body to function properly. To improve your speed and agility, strengthen your core with exercises such as:
Hip bridges, which are also great for your thighs and glutes
7. Balance your lower body by working your arms and shoulders. Upper body strength is essential for any sport that requires quick arm movements, such as swimming, basketball, or rowing. It is also important in lower-body focused activities such as running. Exercises that target your arms, chest, shoulders, and neck can help you avoid muscle imbalances and improve your form and posture.
Shoulder rows, for example, are excellent for strengthening your shoulders and preventing a hunched-over running posture.
Biceps curls, pull-ups, and chest presses are also excellent upper-body exercises.
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