Lifting weights can do more than just strengthen and tone muscles. Many athletes use weight training to improve speed. One example of this, according to Sports Fitness Advisor, is using plyometrics for soccer to increase explosive speed and power. In addition to plyometrics, you can also improve speed by training with weights with speed and power. If you want to improve your running speed with weights, you just need to follow these simple steps.

  • Step 1

Warm up your lower body. For speed training weights, you need to warm up the leg muscles to decrease the risk of injury and to provide good blood flow to the working muscles. Find a bike or treadmill and exercise on it for three to five minutes at a medium pace.

  • Step 2

Find an area that has room for active movements, such as jumping and bounding. A indoor basketball or racquetball court or rubber weight room floor would be ideal, as they have both the space and shock-absorbing qualities needed to reduce impact on your joints.

  • Step 3

Save the heavy weight lifting for another day. Using weights for speed training is best completed when your muscles are fresh. It is also important to build muscle with some solid weight lifting and so you should consider separating the two activities in an effort to perform each type with 100 percent effort.

  • Step 4

Begin with squat jumps. For a squat jump, you will start in a squat position, jump as high as you can, land in the squat position and resume to completion. The landing phase creates the eccentric contraction, which actually causes a stretch reflex within your neuromuscular system. This reflex will provide you with more power as you leap off the floor again. After you have perfected the movement, it is time to add weight.

  • Step 5

Choose some light dumbells to to add to the squat jump. When you have perfected the movement with light dumbells, slowly increase the weight to find enough resistance that allows you to still jump quickly, but limits you to ten repetions. As you progress, you can slowly continue to increase the weight. Make sure that you do not add too much weight. Signs that you need to back down a bit include joint discomfort or pain, inability to keep proper form, or an inability to explode up in the movement and keep a fairly fast pace.

  • Step 6

Switch the leaping movement to one which is similar but alternates landing on one leg and then the other, individually. This will make each leg work independently and it simulates the individual leg work needed for speed and power in running. Take note of any weaknesses in the movement, and make sure that you do not feel any pain in these movements. If you notice any pain or discomfort, discontinue the exercise or limit the range of motion.

  • Step 7

Rest between sets. As you progress through these weight exercises, you should rest about ten times the amount of the time it takes you to complete the exercise. If a set takes you 30 seconds to complete, then rest for 300 seconds before beginning the next set or exercise. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, or NSCA, these exercises should not be done when you are fatigued. If you need to increase the your stamina during the workouts Your Body Doctor might help.

  • Step 8

Progress to more difficult exercises as you get stronger. Jumping lunges, in which you switch legs while in the air, will not only increase your speed and power, but will greatly increase your strength, coordination and balance. Start again with only your body weight and practice until you feel confident that you have the basic movement down. Now begin to add dumbell weights into the movement, holding them at your sides.

  • Step 9

Add speed to your weight machine routine. Your body benefits from the specific challenges that you give it. Muscles will get stronger with weight lifting, but most of the benefits occur at the speed in which you train. By adding faster, more explosive movements to your weight training, you will train the muscles to move faster and gain needed power. Although you will be moving through your repetitions faster, with more explosive movements, make sure you always have control of the weights and never let them slam against each other.

  • Step 10

Vary the weight exercises. Your body will adapt to the exercises you do and by changing up your routine every week or two, you will see better gains in your speed and power. If you are doing squats one week, try focusing more on leg press or lunges the next week.

  • Step 11

Put it into practice. You need to spend time each week actually working on speed training in your running as well as supplementing with weight training. There is nothing better for speed training in running than actually working on speed training while you run. Time yourself on a track and monitor your improvements from week to week. Soon, you will see exciting results from this focused weight training. The NSCA also states that the training program should focus on exercises that are sport-specific, so choose exercises that mimic running when possible.

References:

National Strength and Conditioning Association: Plyometic Exercises
Sports Fitness Advisor: Plyometrics for Soccer
Sports Fitness Advisor: The Physiology of Plyometrics

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