Run, Forrest, Run – the Keys to Getting Faster!

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Question: I am trying to get faster but I don’t know what to do in the gym to achieve that. Should I do leg extensions? Squats? Leg press? What is the best way to go at this?
Answer: There are two ways to increase speed. You can increase your turnover rate, how fast your feet hit the ground and you can increase your stride. Increasing turnover rate is done most effectively by practicing explosive running techniques and practice. It’s like practicing a golf swing. Do it over and over with the correct form until it is part of your wiring, nervous system. Your stride is easier to increase. What you have to do in the gym is exchange your 100 pound rocket pack for a 1000 pound version. Warn-up with a walk on the treadmill or stationary bike ride for 3 to 5 minutes prior to beginning your routine. Hamstring strength is essential to speed and stronger, more flexible hamstrings help prevent injury. Keep your hamstrings strong by beginning your workout with them and alternate sets of leg curls with calf raises. For hams do 4 sets increasing weight with each set reducing the reps from 10 on the first set down to 8 on the third. For the fourth set use enough weight that you can complete only 6 reps with decent form and decrease the weight by 25% to 30% and perform another 6 reps. For calf raises, which strengthen the calves and stretch the Achilles tendon, do a set of 20 reps on the first and third sets and heavier sets of 10 on the second and fourth sets.
After those, move on to lunges. These are good for a couple of reasons. They warm up the knees further and stretch the hip flexors. They are very similar to squats except they are done on one leg at a time. Do 3 sets of 8 to ten reps per leg. Squats are your primary exercise. They need to be done deeply so that the center of your thigh is parallel to the ground. This insures that the glutes and hip flexors are fully engaged in the exercise. Super heavy is not a necessity here. You should warm-up with a set of 10 reps and progress through another 4 sets increasing the weight and decreasing the reps to as low a 5 or 6 reps by the last set. A good method on the last set is to do a drop set. Do 5 to 6 reps of a heavy weight and decrease the weight by 25% to 30% and do another 5 to 6 reps. Your final exercise sequence is to combine leg extensions, dummy drives and stiff-leg deads for 2 sets of each. Dummy drives are done by pushing a 285 pound kickboxing bag across the floor after doing a set of leg extensions for 8 reps. The final exercise in the sequence is stiff-leg deads for 8 reps. Now you have to stretch. Stretch your quads and your hams intensely. They are warm and this is the time to increase your flexibility and range-of-motion.
As you grow stronger you have to continue to do plyometrics and work on explosive starts maintaining your turnover rate as you run. With greater strength and flexibility, you will get faster.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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