“How do I get faster” is our most frequently asked question.
Good. It should be.
Speed is arguably the most important quality in sports.
And despite what many say, it’s a trainable quality. You CAN get fast through smart training.
Here’s our top 9 tips to do so:
1. If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing
“How do I get faster” is a redundant question you’re not measuring speed.
Most athletes don’t have access to speed gates. However, you can simply use a slow motion camera on your phone to provide some data.
The SprintTimer App can do this for you.
2. If you want to get fast… SPRINT
99% of athletes simply don’t do enough reps.
They overemphasise the important of strength training whilst neglecting speed work itself.
Try to get a speed exposure 1-3 x per week.
Use these speed guidelines to design those sessions:
3. Drop body-fat (it’s heavy)
Taking a 5kg rucksack off will make you run faster. Duh.
Excessive fat mass slows you down. Lose it.
If you need evidence:
“Muscle mass, and body fat correlated favourably with sprint performance over time in elite sprinters.” (Abe et al., 2020)
4. Do maximal jumps for distance
Maximal horizontal jumps build acceleration.
Acceleration is dependent on how much horizontal force you can produce. Whilst top-end speed is how much vertical force you can produce.
In fact, broad jump performance strongly correlates with sprint speed (Sergio et al., 2021).
If you’re building your broad jump, you’re probably improving your acceleration.
5. Do springy plyometrics (improve your RSI)
Maximal jumps don’t have a great transfer to top-end speed.
Why? During sprinting, you don’t have enough time on the ground to produce maximal forces.
Plyometric exercises can plug this gap.
Plyometric are NOT box jumps. They’re jumps with short-ground contact times (<0.3s) like:
You can test your spring, by measuring your reactive strength index (RSI):
You can test your RSI with the app MyJump.
6. Stop neglecting top-end speed training
Don’t neglect top-end.
Top-end speed work is a potent stimulus that is often neglected.
Freeman (2019) found adding it to a program increased max velocity in just 4 weeks (an average of 0.12s faster in flying 10). Despite already playing running based sports.
Build slowly into top-end work. It’s a potent stimulus, but the risk of hamstring injury is high if you’re not conditioned for it.
7/8. Build explosive and strong hip flexors and extensors (those hips don’t lie)
Sprinters are famous for impressive glutes and hamstrings.
The research supports this:
“Sprinters have greater muscle mass than the average individual and proportionally greater strength in their hip extensors, flexors, and knee flexors (Handsfield et al., 2016)”
Below is a scan from a study looking into the size differences between sub-elite and elite sprinters in the hips. Notice the greater development of almost every hip muscle:
How do you build explosive and strong hips?
The most important thing is sprinting itself. Secondly, is following point 4 and 5 – do explosive and springy jumps.
Thirdly, is a well designed strength programme, which bias’:
- Hip Extension: Romanian Deadlifts, Hip Thrusts, Hang Cleans etc
- Hip Flexion: Cable Knee Drives, Reverse Squats, Hanging Leg Raises etc
9. Ferrari’s don’t run on flat tires
Your ankle/calf complex is what transfers all that force you generate into the ground.
The Soleus has been found to produce the highest muscle force of all muscles (>8 times bodyweight) during sprinting (Pandy et al., 2021).
Debaere et al (2015) also found that the ankle plantar flexors were shown to contribute the majority of the ground reaction force during acceleration.
If you want to get fast, you better stop skipping the calf raises.
Do both bent-leg and straight-leg calf raises to maximise your results.
- Sprint with intent more often.
- Drop body-fat (it’s heavy).
- Do springy plyometrics (improve your RSI).
- Do maximal jumps for distance (broad jump).
- Stop neglecting top-end speed training.
- Build explosive and strong hip flexors
- Build explosive and strong hip extensors (booty)
- Ferrari’s don’t run on flat tires. Strengthen the lower-limb (particularly hip flexors)
Want to know how to fit this all within a week? Read this – High-Low Training Method