If you want to improve your speed, whether you’re an athlete or simply want to boost your overall conditioning, it’s crucial to integrate plyometrics into your weekly training program. Plyometric exercises involve explosive movements, like sprinting, bounding and jumping. They work several muscles at once and help to maximize force production. And they can suck, both literally and figuratively! If you’ve ever done plyometrics, you know how quickly the energy is sucked from your body, leaving you gasping for air and counting down the seconds until your training session is done. But there’s no arguing the effectiveness of plyometrics for making you a better athlete, more conditioned and faster!
3 Plyometric Exercises to Improve Your Speed:
- Banded sprints: Grab your gym buddy for this one. Loop a resistance band (make sure it’s sturdy) around the bottom of your waist near your hips and have him or her hold on to the remaining portion of the band (and don’t let go at any time or you’ll be face-down in a matter of seconds). Once he or she has a firm grip, sprint as fast as possible for a designated distance, focusing on staying tall and driving your arms. Your partner should provide enough resistance to create tension and slow you down compared with a typical sprint. (A good starting point: Do these sprints 5-8 times, sprinting 5-15 yards and resting a minute between sets.)
- Jump rope: This is one of the best plyometric exercises to improve speed. It can help you develop quicker feet and better conditioning in just a few minutes at a time. Work on making this move efficient and smooth; you shouldn’t have to jump really high unless you’re performing double- or triple-unders (two to three revolutions of the rope with each jump). (A suggested starting point: Jump rope for 30 seconds at a time for 3-4 sets, resting 1-2 minutes between sets. As you improve you can build your total jump rope time by 15-30 seconds.)
- Broad jumps: If you’ve ever wanted a total butt-kicking exercise that doesn’t require any equipment, then it’s time to start doing broad jumps. Broad jumps help improve your speed because you have to exert force horizontally against the ground. They also require stabilization and control to absorb the force of your body as you land. Start with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Drop into a quarter-squat and swing your arms back as if your body were a sling shot. Then explosively move your body forward, swinging your arms. Land “softly” on both feet with a slight bend in the knees. You can vary the distance and amount of reps completed each session. (A good starting point: Perform 8-10 broad jumps for approximately 2-3 sets, resting 1-2 minutes between each set. As you progress, work on extending the total distance traveled.)