As anyone with a GCSE in physics knows, speed equals distance over time. It's an asset that (in most people) has to be trained for very specifically. It's one of the most important aspects of a wide range of sports, so deserves a lot of attention. Your ability to move quickly is a vital attribute of many team sports, not to mention running and cycling.
Power is synonymous with speed, because it's the ability to move an object (your body in this case) quickly and explosively. Power is the bedrock of acceleration, which in turn helps to boost speed.
In this article we're going to look at the research around training for top speed performance, giving you evidence-based advice for improving your own speed and power.
Time to read: 5 minutes
- Speed Training Mechanics
- Training Acceleration
- Training Maximal Velocity
- Managing Deceleration
- Use of KYMIRA Sport Products in Sprint Training
Speed is an asset that usually has to be trained for very specifically and deserves a lot of attention. This article provides you with insights into improving your own speed and power...
Breaking Down Speed Training Mechanics
According to researchers, speed is essentially characterised by the following segments… __em
In further detail, each of the segments represent…
- Acceleration – the time taken to reach maximal velocity. The shorter, the better.
- Maximal velocity – absolute top speed, characterised by speed of limb turnover, stride length, power output
- Deceleration – managed slowdown having reached maximal velocity – also known as speed endurance.
We'll discuss how research dictates each of these elements should be trained to help you maximise your overall speed.
One of the known factors of improving acceleration is by ‘resisted sprinting'. This can be done in a number of ways – sprint whilst pushing a sled, dragging a weight plate or running with an attached chute. These are the most common ways of improving acceleration mechanics.
Improving acceleration can also be achieved with increasing the force applied to the ground by using a variety of resistance training methods.
Common (and successful) approaches to resistance training for acceleration include standard weight training – research shows both very heavy (1 rep maximum) and light weight, high rep (30% 1 rep max with bigger sets) are both effective. Plyometrics have also been shown to improve force output and acceleration.
A 2011 study titled ‘The Effects of Different Speed Training Protocols on Sprint Acceleration Kinematics and Muscle Strength and Power in Field Sport Athletes' proved that lots of different approaches to resistance training can be used to improve acceleration, but the commonality was they all focussed on increasing strength and power, therefore force into the floor .
Training Maximal Velocity
It's clear from the research that simply being stronger and able to generate more force isn't enough to improve sprint speed. It's fundamental to the process, but it's not the complete picture. Power absolutely must be married to technique.
In a 2019 research study on ‘Acute Effects of a Speed Training Program on Sprinting Step Kinematics and Performance', researchers concluded that sprint speed training helped to improve step technique reduction of step variability and as an effective short-term intervention program in the improvement of sprint performance .
What this means is that by improving step quality and power output, the two combine to improve sprint speed, which makes perfect sense.
If you're a sprint coach or a coach who trains athletes with a requirement to improve the technical aspects of their sprinting, detailed technique breakdown will pay dividends in sprit speed .
Overall speed is about maintaining maximal velocity and you do this by managing deceleration. Holding on to your top speed for as long as possible is the way to enhance your overall sprint speed.
When studied, there is evidence that there's a difference in the sexes when it comes to maintaining speed. Men tend to maintain speed more effectively with longer, more powerful strides at a lower frequency . Women however tend to maintain speed with faster turnover of shorter strides. This may be down to a lower power to weight ratio in women.
There are suggestions from studies that exposing athletes to frequent bouts of high velocity running will help to manage deceleration . This is logical, based on two counts – first, it improves specific ability to maintain high intensity output. Secondly, it's extra technique work, teaching the athlete to execute better, more effective sprint technique at higher intensity levels.
Use of KYMIRA Infrared Products in Sprint Training
KYMIRA infrared fabrics are perfectly suited to wear before, during and after sprint training. By its very nature, sprint training requires huge forces to be generated by the body, which has a direct relationship with injury risk. Infrared helps to stimulate blood flow which in turn improves tissue elasticity and reduces injury risk.
Additionally, infrared fabric activates a molecule called Cytochrome C-Oxidase, a transmembrane protein in our mitochondria which mediates the production of ATP, the chemical unit of energy that powers our cells. Increasing ATP production means your cells have more fuel to carry out their functions.