Resistance training will build power and explosiveness in your lower body so you can move quickly. Hence, speed training often utilizes explosive strength-building movements such as power cleans and clean-and-jerks. However, some of the best speed training can be done with resistance equipment such as parachutes and stretch bands -- tools you can use anywhere to simulate and improve the movements you do on the track and in the field.
Parachute to Fitness
Parachutes to build speed and strength are often used by conditioning coaches for football, rugby, soccer and baseball teams. When you run, there is always air resistance slowing you down. Speed parachutes are designed to add to this resistance, making you generate more force with each stride in order to move quickly. They usually attach to your waist and make it feel like you are dragging a large weight behind you. Your speed will increase as your body learns to apply this greater force, even when you are running unimpeded.
Get Some Resistance
Resistance bands are another effective tool for challenging leg strength and agility. For instance, you can simulate the difficulty of parachute springs by looping a band around your waist and having a partner hold onto it behind you as you attempt to sprint away. You can also tie the band to something immobile, such as a pole, and sprint in place for as long as you can, concentrating on driving the legs and arms up as explosively as possible. Use bands for lateral shuffles, hip flexion leg raises, backward runs or any movement that strengthens the muscles of the hips and legs.
Sample Speed Workout
You can perform speed training drills once or twice a week. First, do several 20- to 30-yard sprints with a parachute or partner holding your resistance band. Then do 10 yards of lateral shuffles in each direction, again with a band around your waist and a partner resisting. Perform resisted broad jumps for 10 yards, jumping as far as you can with each bound. Finish up on your own with 20 to 30 seconds of sustained sprinting in place. Integrate these exercises with plyometrics, such as box jumps and lateral bounds, to really increase explosive speed and power.
Warm Up and Cool Downs
Because these types of power-building routines can place heavy stress on your ankles, knees and hips, make sure to begin each speed training session with a thorough five- to 10-minute warmup of light jogging, jumping jacks and jump roping, as well as dynamic stretches such as easy lunges and side lunges. Finish each session with a five- to 10-minute cool-down and static stretches that increase the flexibility of the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, calves and especially the hips. Resistance bands are also very useful for aiding stretches such as the anterior hip stretch and posterior hip stretch.
- STACK: Increase Speed and Conditioning with Resistance Band Drills
- ExRx.net: Exercise and Muscle Directory
- Band Stretching for Baseball; Dave Schmitz
- NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition; Jared W. Coburn and Moh H. Malek