When trying to increase speed, fast-twitch muscles will dictate exactly how much improvement you can get. Your body has three different muscle fiber types that are impacted in training: type I, type II-A and type II-B. Type I fibers are slow-twitch muscle fibers used mostly for endurance exercises, while the other two fiber types are fast-twitch fibers, capable of being trained and improved for increased speed and power.
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When you are looking to improve your fast-twitch fiber types as well as your speed, doing sprints creates the optimum training. Sprinting builds the specific muscles needed to be faster while also generating better use of your fast-twitch fibers. Since sprinting requires maximum effort, the exercise is similar to maximum-effort strength training. When sprinting to improve speed and generate more fast-twitch muscular work, take enough rest to be fully recovered before sprinting again so that you do not work for speed endurance instead of maximum speed.
A depth jump is a type of plyometric exercise that helps to teach better recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers. To perform a depth jump, find a box that is roughly 12 inches tall and stand on the box. From here, step -- do not jump -- off the box. Upon landing, try to jump back up into the air as quickly as possible. This exercise teaches your body how to better absorb force and more quickly use your fast-twitch muscle, creating increased power output.
Olympic lifts include the clean and jerk and snatch, which enable an athlete to develop explosive power and speed while training fast-twitch fibers. These lifts accomplish this by working quickly with sufficient weight, directly recruiting these fiber types. Both exercises require the use of bumper -- rubber -- plates to enable exercisers to drop the weight upon completion of the lifts. Perform few reps when you do Olympic lifts to keep your focus upon developing ever-greater power and speed.
Tips and Considerations
Everyone is born with a certain number of fiber types that are available to be trained. While some people are slow-twitch dominant, others have more fast-twitch fibers. Regardless of which category you fall into, through training, you can improve your recruitment of various fiber types and develop your body's fast-twitch fibers necessary for increased speed.