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How to improve speed? Speed is mainly associated with running and team sports. Is it necessary then to work on this motor feature, even If you are not a fan of running, football, or tennis?
What affects speed?
The simplest definition of speed is the ability to make a certain movement in the shortest possible time. The movement must be "defined", that is, concrete, conscious and not accidental. And if we are talking about sport - it should be correct movement – we don’t want injury. That is, a fully performed push-up, a pull-up on a bar, and not just a careless bend in the arms or lifting just a few centimeters. Two factors determine speed:
- Stable or innate features - body structure, proportion of muscle fibers (fast-twitch to slow-twitch)
- Variable features, i.e., training and effort
- Physiologically, the speed depends on our ability to produce energy under anaerobic and aerobic conditions, and this can be improved with proper training.
What does speed consist of?
The question may sound a bit strange, but it's worth remembering that speed is really:
- Reaction time - the time that passes from a stimulus in the form of movement, sound, image, thoughts to the beginning of a movement. The easiest way to imagine it is runners reacting to a starting gun or a tennis player quickly assuming the right position at the sight of an approaching ball.
- Straight movement time - the speed that a part of the body reaches for a certain stretch of the movement, e.g., a leg taking a step or a hand reaching for something.
- The frequency of movements - this is the maximum number of movements that can be made with the help of specific muscle groups in a given time, e.g., the number of jumps per minute or the number of push-ups or pull-ups on the bar.
- We can improve each of these components, which should give a clear effect of speed improvement.
How to work on speed?
Training needs to be regular. Practicing speed "every now and then" will have no effect. Speed training should consist of a variety of exercises in which we will try to maximize correct form, but at the same time the main goal will be to increase the number of repetitions performed in a specific time, e.g., a minute. Possibly reducing the time needed to cover the designated distance in a certain way for example.
Speed shaping is about breaking your own little records. For many people, it is a pleasant change from the regular training at the same pace. Exercise must be intense but should not be too long. After a few attempts to "break the speed record" it is impossible to do the exercise even faster, because fatigue becomes the limiting factor.
Speed training - exercise suggestions
Let's start with some obvious propositions, i.e. those related to running. A good speed exercise is:
- Pendulum run - performed over a specific (short!) Distance and requiring dynamic turns. A 4x10 or 10x10 gear is a good option. We start, run to the post 10 meters away, make a turn, run to the starting line, make a turn, again to the post and the number of times designated in this way. We measure time, of course
Uphill and Downhill Run - Obviously, Uphill Run is more exhausting, but the downhill run requires a quick "changing" leg.
- Sprints alternating with jogging or walking - require careful planning. For example: on a designated section, we sprint at the level of 60 percent of our capacity, then jog for a minute and finally sprint at 100 percent of the designated section. We end it with two minutes of light jogging.
Other examples of speed exercises:
- Jump squats - as many repetitions as possible in a minute
- Burpees, jumping jacks, platform jumps - the same principle as above
- We must be disciplined in this type of exercise - no mistakes, all repetitions are flawless
What will we gain by training speed?
- Better cardiovascular capacity
- Better (faster) reaction to various stimuli, which is also useful outside of training
- Improving motor coordination
- Improving the smoothness and precision of movements
- Burn a large number of calories - speed training is always exhausting
- A new stimulus for training - a great way to break boredom and introduce an element of competition with yourself
How often and for how long?
We can do speed training 1-2 times a week and it should not last longer than 60 minutes (including warm-up and post-training stretching). It must be well-planned training and cannot be combined with other forms of training (eg a few strength exercises and a few speed exercises will not work).