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The Best Sprinting Exercises

by
author image Dan Harriman
Dan Harriman began writing professionally in 2009 and has a varied background in marketing, ranging from sports management to music promotion. Harriman holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with an emphasis on strategic communications from the University of Kansas and earned the International Advertising Association's diploma in marketing communications.
The Best Sprinting Exercises
Three women about to start a race. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Sprinting is a valuable athletic skill and is beneficial not only for track and field sprinters, as a number of sports require quick bursts of speed. Explosive sprinting speed is not something you can develop in just a few weeks or even months. Becoming a truly fast sprinter takes lots of hard work and requires a dedication to learning the basics. The best sprinting exercises emphasize sprinting fundamentals, which are the foundation of training programs for every top sprinter in the world.

Knee Raises

Raising your knees when sprinting is extremely important, as the height of the knee determines, in part, how large your next stride is going to be. If you fail to bring your knees up high enough, your stride length is reduced and keeps you from reaching your full sprinting-speed potential. Practice your technique by sprinting for 10 meters and bringing your knees up higher than normal. Then, jog for 10 meters, followed by a normal 10-meter sprint. Briefly rest and repeat the exercise five times.

Butt Kicks

Butt kicks can be seen as the counter exercise to knee raises as it focuses on your stride follow-through. To do a butt kick, aim to touch your heel to your buttocks when finishing a stride. The exercise is designed to develop your stride's range of motion and to give you a feel for how far your legs can extend on the follow-through. Sprint for 10 meters doing butt kicks, then jog for 10 meters, then sprint for 10 meters doing butt kicks again. Repeat this sequence for 100 meters. Rest and repeat two to three times.

Skipping

Many sprinters overlook the benefit and importance of skipping. Skipping is an ideal exercise for developing aerobic endurance, as well as some leg strength. Performing skips with proper form also promotes good knee raises and the pumping of arms. Use the momentum from your knee lifts and arm pumps to elevate you, then counter the motion by raising your other knee and pumping your other arm as you rebound. Skip for 40 meters, then jog for 10 meters. Repeat this sequence once more to complete 100 meters. Rest and do two to three sets total.

Running Backward

Running backward forces you to engage various smaller stabilizer muscles that do not get as much of a workout when you run forward. Working these muscles further develops your leg strength, which then helps optimize your forward sprinting potential. The focus of this exercise is to enhance your reach and to train the major leg muscles through counter movements -- think of an elliptical trainer and its effects on your legs when pedaling backward. Run backward, keeping your head up, for 10 meters and concentrate on reaching back as far as you can with each stride. Pump your arms backward vigorously to help propel your body, and try to touch down only with your toes.

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