Training for Speed

Training for Speed

Speed is generally considered an inherited trait. While runners are born not made, everyone can improve their speed. There are some basic tips and training exercises that can improve any athletes acceleration. To optimize a persons running ability a specific stimulus is needed. This entails re-programming the muscle firing patterns. Below are two training exercises which can be used to increase your speed from zero by enabling efficient biomechanical techniques in order to produce speed in as short a period of time as possible. These exercises are beneficial to anyone who requires quick acceleration in their sport, e.g. football, basketball, tennis, out of starting blocks. These are for sprints of 30 metres or less.Some key points to remember when training:

  • Start low and drive with your arms
  • Lean forward
  • Heels never touch the ground
  • Make sure your feet land beneath the hips (not in front of the body)
  • Elbows flexed and moving straight up and down
  • Hands relaxed




Start position

  • Stand with your hands against a wall with arms near parallel to the ground
  • Feet should be behind the hipd and lean forward (nearly 45 degrees)
  • Heels slightly off ground
  • Torso should be erect, hips forward, abs & low back muscles firm


  • Perform a marching action
  • Raise one leg while keeping the ankle between the knee & hip (Figure 1)


  • Aternate slowly 10-12 times
  • Progressions
  • Progress to a very quick 1,2 step marching movement
  • Add a quick 3 step marching movement
  • Finally add a quick 5 step marching movement

Watch for errors

Bending at the waist (keep torso erect in a forward lean); Heels moving too far aheadĀ (keep heel behind knee)




While the above exercise creates a forward lean with the body, with a hill we can bring the angle to the body putting it in an ideal position


  • 10-15 metres
  • Fairly steep hill
  • Begin with accelerations up the hill
  • With short hills its important to drive your legs down and back, applying force into the ground ( if you don’t, you’ll feel your center of mass behind you)


  • 8-10 times

Watch for errors

Bounding up the hill with your front leg landing too far in front (drive down with your glut muscles. If your foot strike is out in front of your hips, you’ll loose speed. Stay tall and lean forward driving hard with arms and legs to avoid this)


Liebenson C. (2009); J. BWMT; 13 (4), 362-363.

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