Do I have an exciting article for you or what!?
I am actually going to revile 3 exercises from a leg day protocol that I use with my clients to make them freaking fast! This workout is based on a relentless reading effort and years of experience in the field of athlete development.
Let’s dive on in!
Remember to warm up adequately following a RAMP protocol. R stands for raising the heart rate and blood flow, A stands for activating the muscles, M stands for mobilizing the joints and P stands for potentiate which simply means specificity to the activity that you participate in.
Even if we are not on the track, I like my athletes to focus on high knees, A skips, ankle bounds and deep walking lunges. This may seem very running specific as oppose to lifting specific but I have the end goal in mind. A faster run!
The first thing I like to do with athletes is a standard stage 1 squat jump. This not only activates the athlete’s glutes ready for deadlifting but plyometrics are a great supplement to weight training as they can improve the velocity at which a force can be produced long term.
Squat jumps are ideal because the athlete is focused on maintaining a good posture and not on mounting a box. The rate at which the squat jump is performed is crucial for speed development. Therefore, the depth of the jump is not important. How quickly the athlete can move up and down is.
To ensure that the athlete generates great speed and doesn’t fatigue, I like 3 sets of 5 repetitions with a 2-minute recover in between. It is not necessary to exceed this.
It’s then time to lift big! Ryan Flanherty, the Senior Director of Performance at Nike mentions his fondness for the Hex Bar Deadlift. The Hex Bar Deadlift allows the athlete to position the load directly to the side of his or her own body. This is a far more specific position than the standard deadlift as a runner should aim to land within his or her centre of mass (aka beneath the hip).
Furthermore, the higher handles of the Hex bar should be used by anyone over 5.10ft tall as this depth is specific to sporting activities. You may use the lower handles if you are under 5.10ft tall but you may wish to elevate the bar just 1 inch off the ground using additional weight plates as a platform. Yes, we are avoiding going too deep. We are practicing at a position of biomechanical advantage so that we can apply some heavy freaking load!
For anyone unfamiliar with the technique, I would heavily advise 2 sets of 5 repetitions at 50% of your 1 rep max. Take a 60 second rest between these warm up sets.
Pavel Tsatsuline mentions the power of 10. If we exceed 10 repetitions, our technique will go downhill so injury risk will increase. I like the 5, 3, 2 method. 5 repetitions at 75% of the athletes 1 rep max, 3 repetitions of 80% of the athletes 1 rep max and finally, 2 reps at 90% of the athletes 1 rep max. Take at least 2 minutes between each set.
Tempo? Don’t stress about it. In fact, Lift the bar as fast as you can with control and great technique and then drop it. The lowering part of the lift is known as an eccentric movement but it is not necessary for speed development. In fact, the muscle mass that comes from an eccentric lift can hinder speed.
Don’t get me wrong, mass can be a great thing! However, not if it upsets a very important balance. Ryan Flanherty mentions that an athlete should be capable of lifting at least 2.2 times his or her body weight. Mass adds body weight and body weight can upset this balance. You want this balance as our speed correlates with how much we can lift in relation to how much we weight.
With the Deadlifts done and dusted, it is time to get unilateral. Adding another hinge exercise will be overkill so a Bulgarian Split Squat fits into the mix nicely. Not only will the athlete develop his squatting power but the single leg variation will add further support to lateral movers such as the Vastus Lateralis, a muscle that is important in the prevention of knee pain, deceleration and lateral movement.
Because of the nature of this exercise, I use a higher repetition range. Unilateral exercises can be tough to perform with excessive resistance. 3 sets of 8 is next to perfect for a Bulgarian Split Squat. This is especially true if the athletes couple this with a 2-minute rest. Explode on the way up but lower under control and feel the stretch in the hip flexor. I know I mentioned earlier that eccentric muscle contractions can instigate mass but the load an athlete can place on him or herself during a Bulgarian Split Squat is limited plus, safety is a factor.
These 3 exercises done once per week will aid you in becoming a faster athlete. The other element is great technical practice and efficient recovery.
Speak soon and remember, 90% of my best work goes to my exclusive list! Check out the tool kit by clocking into the form at the top right hand corner of this screen.