Not all speed training requires sleds, parachutes and other paraphernalia found on the training ground of a college or pro team. You can effectively work to become faster at home using exercises designed to build speed and explosiveness.
Standard plyometric exercises include box jumps, medicine ball tosses and bounding large steps as you run. Sports physiologist Phil Davies notes that plyometric exercises have three basic phases. Taking the example of a short squat followed by a vertical jump, the first phase of the exercise is the dip, during which your leg muscles are stretched. The second phase is the moment between the dip and the jump. The shorter this phase is, the more powerful your muscle contraction will be and the more you will improve your speed. The final phase is the jump when you contract the muscles in your legs. Six to 12 weeks of plyometric training can “significantly” improve the speed of your muscle contractions, Davies notes.
You can improve your speed by gaining a longer stride and stronger core muscles, according to strength trainer Travelle Gaines, who works with NFL running back Chris Johnson. One way to improve both of these areas simultaneously at home is with high-knee pumps. To perform the exercise, you sprint 15 to 20 yards while pumping your knees as high as possible toward your elbow on the opposite side. Gaines states that the key to this drill is opening your hips and driving your feet as high and as hard into the ground as possible.
Though you may not have a full squat rack at home to build leg strength, it is critical that you perform this type of exercise if you are interested in building leg speed. Trainer Kelly Baggett states that you can adapt squats to your home workout by carrying a dumbbell in each hand and then standing on one leg with your other foot resting on a low bench or table behind you. You slowly descend until your knee touches the floor and then explode back up. This heavily works your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings for greater speed.
If you are training to improve your running speed, performing weekly sprints is a necessity that will help your muscles increase their reaction time and power, as well as help you assess your progress. Baggett recommends you perform one session of sprints a week at maximum power and one session a week at roughly 70 percent of your performance capacity. If you want to increase your acceleration, run three to five sets of 30 yards per set. Change the distance of the sprints to 60 yards if your goal is to increase your overall maximum speed.