Strength and Power Exercises for Speed
Strength and Power
The force production and absorption capabilities needed for sprinting and acceleration are:
Concentric strength (for pushing into the ground)
Eccentric strength (to absorb force upon landing)
Reactive strength (to, upon landing, absorb and then produce force quickly)
General Strength to Specific Strength
Team sport athletes should first and foremost attend to their general strength capabilities (strength in the basic movement patterns: squat, hinge, push, pull and lunge). Once a general foundation of strength has been laid it’s important to transfer this into sprinting-specific strength.
Many athletes neglect this aspect of strength training and thus don’t turn their general strength into faster sprinting. This can often be due to a lack of sprinting-specific strength exercises that help to bridge the gap between general strength capabilities and sprinting strength but can also be simply because they don’t sprint or accelerate enough!
There are numerous different methods, exercises and drills that can be used to improve sprinting-specific strength, speed and technique. When coaching team sport athletes I break down speed and acceleration development exercises into four categories (component of technique each category primarily focusses on in brackets):
1. All types of Sprints (projection, switching, reactivity)
2. Resisted Sprints (projection, switching)
3. Plyometrics (projection, reactivity)
4. Elastic Running Drills aka. reactive strength or quick ‘rebound’ (switching, reactivity)
The specific exercises selected will depend on the athlete and the training goal. Ultimately, any exercise used should aim to improve projection, switching and/or reactivity. Exercises from each of the four categories could be used in the same session, just as none from a particular category may feature in another session or an entire program.
Developing Sprinting Specific Strength
Exercises that involve projection, switching and/or reactivity are classed as sprinting specific and they help to bridge the gap between general strength and sprinting-specific strength.
The following table provides exercises that can be classed as sprinting-specific, and would usually be programmed once a base level of strength and power has been developed in the fundamental movement patterns, through exercises such as squats, deadlifts and basic bilateral jumping and landing.
This article is an excerpt from Jon's e-book The Basics of Speed and Acceleration for Team Sport Athletes which you can download for free on the resources page