As an athlete, every second counts. Every inch is crucial and can be the difference between winning and losing. That’s why speed is essential for any athlete at any level. Typically, the one who is fastest is the one who’s in a better position to win.
The great thing about these four exercises is that you can incorporate them into nearly any training program, since they’re mostly lower-body exercises and one of them you should be doing already! But if you’re not, ditch any isolation exercises you have in your current plan and add one or more of the following exercises when you feel the need for speed!
1. Power Clean
If you’ve been limiting your training to bodybuilding-style workouts, this explosive exercise is probably the best barbell exercise you’ve never done.
- Starting with your feet hip-width apart, grab the bar with an overhand grip.
- Keep your back flat and chest tall as you pull the bar off the floor.
- After the bar passes your knees, sweep the bar into your hips (making contact at mid-thigh/the hip crease).
- Aggressively extend your hips, knees and ankles to catapult the bar up to your shoulders.
2. Sled Push (with heavy weight or light weight)
Sled pushes force you to sprint – but with a forward lean. This increases the activation of your body’s largest muscle: your glutes. If you watch the short sprint events at the Olympics, you’ll quickly notice the size of the asses on the sprinters. This is pure muscle, and it generates pure speed.
- Load your pushing sled with the desired weight.
- Take an athletic posture, leaning into the sled with your arms fully extended, grasping the handles. Push the sled as fast as possible, focusing on extending your hips and knees to strengthen your posterior chain.
3. Back Squat
Squats are no secret for building leg mass, and as such, they’re a staple for any sprinting athletes. Even if you’re not spending time at the track or on the football field, the back squat is essential.
- Grab the bar with a grip that’s comfortable for your shoulders.
- Unrack the weight, brace your abs and push your hips back to descend into the squat position.
- Squat until your thighs are parallel (or slightly below parallel) to the ground.
- Keep your knees in line with your toes, chest up and back flat as you push through your heels to stand up.
4. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
The split squat has been a staple that has generated powerful athletes for decades. Although it looks like a single-leg exercise, it uses both legs. In fact, The split squat is very similar to the back squat, but slightly more hip-dominant.
- With dumbbells at your sides and your back foot elevated on a bench, squat while keeping a straight back and tall chest.
- Push through your heel to extend your front knee and hip back to the starting position.