Every athlete who is faced with the desire to sprint faster and chooses to use conventional ways of trying to accomplish this such as lifting barbells or other strength training methods, will inevitably be faced with only two choices or strategies on how to go about it.
These two choices or strategies are:
Option 1) They are going to have to really increase the strength in their legs, thighs, hips and ankles from their present strength levels, while at the same time trying not to gain any significant body weight.
One of the things that always tend to accompany heavy exercise is the addition of extra body weight, whether it be in the form of muscle, fat or both, but this added weight is not always a benefit. If the added weight is put on in areas that are not relative to the skill, it simply becomes excess baggage.
More often than not, it won’t do you any good speed wise if you increase your lower body strength and in the process you gain 10 pounds across your whole body. This added weight must be carried with you wherever you go and if you think you are going to be able to run faster or even jump higher with what amounts to a 10 lb weighted vest strapped around your chest, you are mistaken.
Option 2) If your strength doesn’t increase significantly more in your legs to offset the additional body weight, then you will need to retain your current level of lower body strength and drop about 5 pounds.
Dropping weight may not seem like a big deal, but more often than not a loss of even 5 lbs can significantly affect ones strength. Losing strength in your legs will no doubt make you slower and reduce your vertical jumping ability and with regards to football, losing weight anywhere on your body may also not be in your best interest while playing a collision sport.
So your athletic speed right now, whether you know it or not, will always be boxed in by these two ‘walls’ if all you ever do to try and increase your speed is to consistently engage in excessive strength workouts.
Those exercises all have their place and are recommended depending on your goals, but your ability to get faster will be harder if while you are doing them, you are also not closely monitoring your strength and body weight ratio along the way.
Is there another choice?
There are other choices. One solution to your speed problem would be to increase the contraction rate of your muscles, that is to make them contract faster.
Developing faster muscles involves the use of what is known as isometric contractions. Isometric contractions or isometric training is most often associated with weight training, where athletes typically use that strategy to get past sticking points in their lifts, most notably the bench press. But isometric training with weights is not going to improve your athletic speed.
Fortunately, there are other forms of resistance besides weights which will have a much more dynamic effect on your muscle speed. What we are talking about is the resistance band.
Resistance bands have what is known as a hyper-elastic potential. This means that to the stretch the band farther, more effort is needed. When used properly with an isometric training strategy, the resistance band becomes the ideal speed training device.
Time to start thinking outside the box
In order for you to break through your current level of speed, you are going to have to start thinking outside the box with regards to your training.
You absolutely must find a way to stimulate your muscle fibers differently than the heavy training routines you've been doing. You need to start developing completely unique muscle contraction patterns within your muscles and exposing coordination issues with them as well or you are going to continue to struggle trying to improve your speed.
Using the resistance band with an isometric training strategy is exactly the type of change in your routine that you are probably lacking to help you accomplish your speed goals.
Because the resistance in the band is variable, any small changes in muscle length, that is, any slight movement or change of position in your muscle, while attempting to hold the band in a fixed position will instantly affect the amount of resistance supplied back to the muscle by the band.
This becomes especially noticeable when you put yourself in unique positions where your coordination is really being tested, while at the same time trying to hold an isometric contraction with a stretched resistance band. When doing this you will see and experience the results instantly.
The benefit of doing these exercises in many new and different positions is that your current level of coordination and strength is intentionally forced outside its control, or comfort zone, and into an unbalanced, uncoordinated and weakened state.
When your muscles enter a weakened and uncoordinated state while under variable levels of resistance, the muscle fibers become hyper-excited which produces new muscle contraction patterns that are needed to regain control. This is where you will find your athletic speed and performance starting to dramatically take off!
And because you are not forcing your muscles through the typical concentric and eccentric muscle contractions that stimulate muscle growth, you won’t gain any significant weight to offset these gains.
“Unleash a huge reservoir of untapped muscular energy just waiting to be set loose.”
Imagine if you knew how to precisely isolate all of the muscle groups within a specific athletic skill and trained them this way. What do you think would happen? You would become quicker and faster than you have ever been before.
The best part is that this doesn't take weeks and weeks of 45 minute training sessions to accomplish. Speed training, as the name implies, should be fast. All of the speed training programs offered at AthleticQuickness.com take only 15 minutes or less to perform.
So, unless you have applied isometric training with the resistance band to specific muscle groups in your body, you still have a huge reservoir of untapped muscular energy just waiting to be released.
See you at the finish line!
Dr. Larry Van Such