Not everyone who hits the gym is trying to get massive. Sometimes you’ll see the phrase “functional fitness” tossed around as if it’s the antithesis of bodybuilding, or as if it’s somehow superior to training just for the sake of getting jacked.
The truth is that there are a number of different “functions” somebody can train for, none are better or worse than the others.
Whether you’re looking to run a marathon, or get really good at lifting very heavy things, or you’re an athlete who wants to improve your performance, or even if you’re just looking to fill out a t-shirt better, it’s a matter of matching your exercises to your goals.
Let’s go over some exercises you should be doing if you want to improve speed, and develop explosive strength.
The classic Olympic lifts aren’t necessarily what comes to mind when you think of speed. This might seem like something you’d work on for overall strength, rather than speed, especially if you picture some of those massive Olympic lifters.
Speed comes from power, and power comes from these lifts, so it all comes together.
If you’re newer to all of this, you should start with a simple deadlift before worrying too much about the snatch or the clean and jerk. Don’t just start trying to do complex lifts in your basement or something, seek out a facility with the proper coaching and equipment because these are advanced lifts that can easily cause a number of injuries.
You can start with squats and deadlifts, too. Many athletes use those to help with speed training.
Prowler Push & Sled Pull
You can push or pull your sled or prowler. If your gym doesn’t have one of these, most Crossfit boxes will. Toss some plates onto it, and just go for it.
When you’re using the prowler or sled for speed training, you don’t want to make it too heavy.
You want to be able to move somewhat quickly still, so use an appropriate amount of weight.
When you notice that your times are improving, add a little more weight. When you’re getting too tired and slowing down, take off some of the weight.
Whether you’ve got a friend helping you out with resistance bands, or you’re using a resistance parachute, or even just sprinting with some weights on… You’ll get used to your sprint with the extra resistance, so when you remove the resistance it’ll feel like you’re soaring.
Uphill sprints also offer the same speed benefits as the aforementioned methods of creating resistance. Sometimes, all it takes is a little good old fashioned gravity instead of anything fancy.
Lunges are what separate the weak from the strong, and they’re a very useful exercise for speed, and often used by sprinters in particular.
The movement as you lower yourself into your lunge is similar to the same form you have while you’re in the air and sprinting, except with a lot more resistance and performed more slowly and tactfully, which will help develop those muscles to quickly explode when it’s time to perform.
You don’t have to skip all the way to My Lou, but putting in some laps while springing for either height or distance with each stride will help build that explosive power than translates into speed. Just don’t skip leg day.