If your goal is to be able to run faster, whether it is for sport or in general. Despite running constant laps, you just can’t seem to increase your sprint speed and are wondering how you can be faster. We have got you covered. The speed of your sprint is affected by a wide variety of factors apart from just constant practice. Sure, constantly sprinting can help, but there are more fundamental ways you can increase your speed drastically.
A great start-up can lead to a greater outcome as far as sprinting is concerned. Your starting position can significantly affect the speed of your sprint. Especially when it comes to competing. An explosive start is what will help you generate that speed, and a crouching start is the way to go. Your dominant foot should always be in the front as the push-off from your dominant foot is going to be stronger. The stronger your push-off, the more explosive and faster your start.
Here is an example of a crouching position.
Now, apart from the start-up what can you do to get faster? Below are the muscle groups that largely responsible for running speed and how you can train them optimally. They are:
- Quads (Quadriceps)
The quads are the most important muscle to train out of all five when it comes to explosive power. Not only that, the quads make up the bulk of your legs and can significantly increase how fast you are able to run and the stronger your quads are, the more force you can produce against the ground to run faster.
Just doing squats before a sprint can warm up your quads and allow you to give your best. However, building your quads through resistance training can increase your sprint speed overall. Without further ado, here are the ways you can train your quads.
The glutes are an extremely important muscle group, not just for the sake of running but for overall health. The glutes are responsible for good posture and stabilizing your pelvis. If you have lower back pain, one of the main causes of that is weak glutes. If your glutes are too weak, your posture will get affected and your piriformis muscle will start compensating, leading to back pain that just cant seem to go away. So not only can the glutes help you walk and run at a higher speed. They can help you get rid of that consistent lower back pain.
The hamstrings are below the glutes and, as far as sprinting is concerned, responsible for force generation by helping, both at the push-off (start-up) & to push against the ground and in conjunction with your quads. The hamstrings lengthen during a full stride and contract when you pull the leg back. Even when you are tiring, stronger hamstrings can help you go for longer and are crucial when it comes to sprinting faster and for longer.
The calves are yet another crucial muscle group to train whether you want to run faster or just constantly. The calves act as shock absorbers when running. Hence, why, if you have weak calves you might experience pain while running, jogging, even walking at a constant pace. Further, proving their importance. As far as sprinting speed goes, the calves add explosiveness to your strides along with the hamstrings. The quads and hamstrings help generate explosiveness and speed. Basically, every time you stomp the ground to produce more power and speed, the calves absorb the impact and help you maintain the generated speed.
Now that you know the importance of each muscle group that affects your sprint speed. Here are the ways you can train them and run faster.
The Squat targets your entire legs from your Quads to your glutes, to your calves all in one movement. The squats can be done without any complex equipment and at home. However, to build stronger legs with squats only. It is recommended, to use some form of free weights like dumbbells to progressively overload the squat and build more/stronger muscles. you can even do box squats once you build up more strength.
How to squat
The way to perform the squat is to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed out. Keep your chest up and straight with your abs flexed, ensuring you do not curl your upper body during the movement. Go down using your hips while keeping your chest straight. The stopping point is when your knees become parallel to your glutes. So, when your knees and glutes are in a straight line. Hold the squat in this position for a few seconds and then go back up to the starting position.
The leg press is another amazing exercises that trains your quads, glutes and hamstrings. However, you need access to a join to be able to do this exercise. The leg press comes in second compared to squats as it targets 3 out of 4 muscles groups that make up your lower body.
How to Leg press
The way you should do them is support your lower back on the machine and then slowly let the weight come down. While pushing the weight back up, do not do partials. You have to take the weight back to its starting position each rep and hold it there for a few seconds before letting it come back down slowly. Doing little jerks just for the sake of being able to put more weight on the machine will not result in more muscle or strength.
The lunges can be done both at the gym or at home. The lunges are highly versatile just like the squats. You can progressively overload lunges with just some free weights which can be anything like a pair of dumbbells or a gallon water bottle in each hand. The lunges also target your thighs, glutes as well as your calves 3 out of 4 major muscle groups in a single exercise.
How to perform lunges
The way to perform the movement is to stand with your feet shoulder width-apart, chest straight and back straight. Move one foot slightly forward while bending your knees. Stop when your back knee is about to touch the ground. Your front thigh will now be parallel to the ground and your back knee facing the ground. Now go back to the starting position and that’s one rep.
To know more about how progressive overload works ( Key factors for Building Muscle & Burning Fat)