The number question I continually receive from majority of the athletes who are concerned about speed is…
“How do I get faster?”
It’s quite ironic because developing speed is much more complex than one would think. There are a few factors that play an important role, as to developing speed or getting faster.
First, we need to know that our bodies consist of three muscle fibres type I, type IIb & type IIa.
Type I muscle fibres or “slow-twitch muscles” are used for long distance running. The majority of the marathon runners have trained themselves to be able to run for a long period of time, without getting tired.
Type IIb muscle fibres or “fast-twitch muscles” are used for short distances e.g. sprinting. Here too, athletes have trained to develop more fast-twitch muscles, in order to run fast or be the fastest running.
Type IIa muscle fibres are people who have both type I & IIb muscle fibres. The majority of the people with type IIa muscle fibres, are either great at long distance running nor are they super fast.
Second, being able to move athletically is very important as well. As an athlete we want our moving patterns to be agile and have a good running form/technique. The question here is why does our running form matter? No one on earth came out the womb perfect. We are imperfect people and our body adapts to the things we’ve been teaching it to do.
So in order to decrease these inefficiencies taught to our body, when it comes to running, it is important to unlearn what we know and develop a technique that’ll allow us to run/move at our best.
Is there a perfect running form? No, but you can develop and train towards a “perfect” one.
Last but not least, speed development involves weight lifting too. No, I’m not talking about the regular lift 90% of the people are doing. In order to increase fast-twitch muscles, we are in need of targeted weight lifting e.g. power clean, hang clean, hang snatch, squats and deadlift. Of course are there many more weight lifting ways to become faster, but I mentioned these five, because I believe that they are the most important once for anybody that wants to become faster.
To increase speed it is necessary to develop muscle strength & this is achieved by lifting weights.
Now that we have the important factors together certain questions still remain. So, I’m going to give you guys clarity on three neglected questions that I find very valuable to know.
- The best time to start to work specifically on your speed is throughout the ages of 12 – 16. Obviously, working on your speed doesn’t have a “specific” timeframe, whether you start from the age 10 or 18 is totally up to you. Nevertheless, you don’t want to start too early and starting extremely late, will only leave you with the option of you not being able to achieve the best result possible. I like to use the ages 12 between 16, simply because these are the stages where kids enter puberty. Changes starting to occur and growth are happening, so to become fast – I believe that working on speed at that time can be very beneficial.
- Unless you’re trying to become an track athlete – you shouldn’t just run straight ahead, but also include agile movements into your workout regime. Being able to change directions efficiently, as well as cutting into corners and jumping are amazing exercises for your body control and moving patterns. I tend to do a lot on the track with my athletes, sometimes just as much as we are on the field working on agility. Here’s a fact that I share with every soccer player that gets trained by me. The reason Cristiano Ronaldo would never be faster than Usain Bolt on 100 meters is due to his running form. Bolt has been training on his running form for years now. Ronaldo doesn’t necessarily need to work on his running form, hence soccer players, rarely run a straight line. The same way Ronaldo wouldn’t get beaten by Bolt running into cuts or making effective change of directions. Nevertheless, imagine Ronaldo implementing his running form (not to say that he doesn’t) into his training. Picture how much faster CR7 could actually be by adapting the body to a more specified running form? This is the way I think and as an athlete myself having a background in college football & track – I only see it right to implement this into my training and get the most out of my soccer players or any athlete.
- Train with a purpose & don’t just train without a reason. Training with a specific target in mind will have you more focused and work more efficient. Try to get to know what you’re working on and what you’re benefitting from. If you’re unable to find such information, e.g. simply being lazy lol – find yourself a coach, a personal trainer; somebody who’s knowledgeable in the field and have them help you to achieve your goal. Opinions will vary, since everybody has their own way of teaching and executing things. However, whatever you can take out of every lesson and whatever works well for you – find it, keep it and continue to do it. We only achieve results by doing something, so now that you know what requires of you to become faster…
…GO OUT AND GET BETTER.