Improving sprint speed is important for any athlete. Most people wrongly believe that the more they practice and build their thigh muscles, the faster they’ll be able to run. The truth is far from it, in this post I’ll cover the top 10 secrets to improve your speed immediately.
There is a saying, “knowledge is power.” And I’m all for it. We need the right knowledge to get the power necessary to make any type of improvement in our lives. Similarly, the secrets that I’m about to share will help you improve your sprinting techniques to give you the quick boost you need to win.
You don’t just need to learn this information but you’ll need to implement it as well. These are practical secrets have worked well for me over the years. Let’s take a look at them below.
1. Knee Up Extend And Pull
When running, you should be focussing on getting this right. You should bring your knee up to the height of your hips and then extend your leg out and pull it back. Over the years, I’ve worked with many athletes (including female athletes) who struggle with getting their knees up.
You can tell the difference between someone who is going to go fast and someone who doesn’t by noticing their front-side mechanics. Most people are focussing too much on their back-side mechanics and completely miss out on optimizing the crucial front-side mechanics.
2. Foot Contact Efficiency
The fastest athletes are able to generate the most amount of force into the ground when they are sprinting. This helps them create a rebound effect to boost their sprint.
When your foot is hitting the ground, 90% of force generated is going to be in that first 1/3rd of the whole time your foot is in contact with the ground. So when you are focussing on this part you should be trying your best to maximize your force with this technique.
3. Foot Push Off (Big Toe ROM)
When you push your foot off, make sure you don’t allow it to go back behind you too much. The emphasis should not be on pushing back, rather it should be on having a great Big Toe Range Of Motion. This means, your focus should be on getting your foot up to be able to create a quick leg cycle.
As soon as your foot comes up off the ground, you should immediately drive it back up underneath your hip. This allows you to get your foot out in front and get back into the position where you first started, the knee up, extend, and pull.
If you spend too much time and push off the foot too far back behind you, it’ll take more time for you to get back into the cycle ultimately slowing you down in the sprint.
4. Core Strength For Better Turnover
In my opinion, core strength has a direct correlation to the turnover rate. When you push off your foot vertically, you’ll be able to drive your knee forward sooner. The specific muscle helping you with the process are the hip flexor and lower core.
Your deep transverse abdominis and hip flexors help you propel forward with a lot of strength. Moreover, it’ll also help you access your muscle very effectively. So when you are trying to generate that thrust forward, your core muscle plays a key role in driving your knee through quickly.
Overall, your core helps you create a fast turnover. The faster the turnover, the faster you will be able to run.
5. Elbow Position And Hand Placement (6-12 inches)
The secret is quite simple here, you should have your elbows as close to your body as possible. As for the hand placement, it should go about 6-12 inches behind your hip. This can only be possible if these parts work in tandem.
The most common mistake I observe is people that are running, they move their torso too much. It’s simply because they did not have great speed coaching. Arm problems are more common for people who are just starting off.
6. Hamstring Strength
The reason that hamstring strength is a secret is that I see a lot of people work on their squat or jumping but not many focus on their hamstring strength. This is essential because our hamstring is connected to our lower muscles (calf muscles and muscles underneath our foot).
We have three hamstring muscles:
- Bicep Femoris
Two of these muscles run on the inside part of the leg and one on the outside. All of these muscles help maximize your hip extension and knee flexion. Moreover, these also aid in controlling the movements related to rotation within the hips.
If there’s one thing you want to improve through the workout, it should be your hamstring muscles.
7. Upper Body Strengthening
I believe this is an underrated part of being able to run fast. To do this, you should include push-ups and pull-ups as part of your exercise. This helps you control your body weight really well. The stronger you are in your upper body (biceps, triceps, pecs, and lats), the better you will be able to generate more reaction within your core.
When pushing forward, we are pulling with a lot of arm strength. This motion needs a response from your core, when the core responds, that creates a reaction within the hips and the pelvis. This leads to a reaction in the hamstrings trickling down with the motion.
The more speed you generate with your lower body, the more control you will need from your upper body to stabilize the motion. Conversely, if you have a strong upper body, it also helps you generate force in the lower body to help you optimize your speed.
This aspect is also true for track athletes or sprinting athletes. Most of the athletes in this category don’t emphasize much on doing much upper body whereas I highly recommend you do it.
8. The Drive Phase
The drive phase includes approximately the first 5-15 steps of your sprint. This is the phase you must go through to reach your top speed. Most people don’t pay much attention to improving their drive phase and try to reach their top-speed immediately only to burn out after some time.
If you are interested in reading about improving your drive phase, check out my detailed article: Keys To The Drive Phase In Sprinting
The drive phase holds the key to your speed as it defines how well your body gets into the position to be able to maximize its potential.
9. Force Into The Ground (Vertical And Horizontal)
The force into the ground doesn’t just mean vertical or horizontal force alone. It includes both the forces combined, so it’s a vertical and horizontal force. You need to be able to maximize both of them.
Most people try to create only vertical force. A study also suggested that horizontal jumping exercises worked better than squats and practicing vertical jumps. Your posture needs to be upright when creating the force into the ground.
Typically, people don’t struggle much with their vertical force. They have a hard time focussing on the horizontal force. Make sure you are not leaned when you are running as this will affect the generation process of the horizontal force.
10. Body Awareness
As they say, you want to save the best for the last, that’s what I’ve done with these secrets. This one could easily top the list however, I wanted to reward you for staying with me throughout the post.
Body awareness means understanding how to breathe and how to push ourselves. Every time you watch a 100m race, you see athletes fatigued at the end of the race, that’s because they’ve pushed their bodies to their maximum limits during the race only through body awareness.
These athletes are able to create a sort of explosion within their bodies during the race to finish it in under 10 seconds. It’s all based on how well you are able to control your body. You should know how to train your body for maximum output.
All the other secrets I’ve shared in the list are applicable to different people differently. If you have body awareness, you would know which one of these you require the most and work your way through that part.
Well, these were the top 10 secrets to improve speed immediately. As mentioned above, you should prioritize the secrets from the list as per your needs. Start from one of them and work your way towards the others.
Over the years, I’ve helped several athletes improve their speed through these techniques. If you are interested in knowing more about sprinting and improving your top speed, feel free to visit our website. Also, check out the programs we offer so you can register and be a part of our program to help you improve your overall performance.
I hope you found this article useful. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to mention them in the comments below.
Have a good day!