Getting to be a top-class athlete involves perfecting techniques one at a time
Many a time I have had parents walk into my gym and demand a four-week programme to make their children faster athletes.
What about work ethic, consistency and years of nutritional habits and discipline? And does a child understand that working out entails healthy lifestyle habits and hard work? Once these two goals are understood then increasing performance, becoming a stronger athlete, or getting faster can all be achieved.
Here are some simple exercises for an athlete to implement into his/her programme to help increase speed and strength. Work on perfecting your technique in the gym, and progress to the next step only after you’ve mastered each specific movement first.
A warm-up will prevent injuries, increase mobility and flexibility, increase blood flow, prepare the body for the workout, and activate specific muscle structures. Examples: Knee raise pulls, leg swings, lunging, running high knees, running butt kicks, power skips, lateral shuffles, and some light strides.
When your legs are stronger, you will run faster. Improve your lower body strength and you will see an increase in speed.
Examples: Split squats, front squats, lunging variations, single leg squats, and controlled step-ups.
Increase trunk strength
When you transfer power from your trunk to your legs and arms, you will be able to run faster.
Examples: Plank variations, side plank variations, chop/lift series
Increase upper body strength
When you strengthen the upper body, you can maintain a steady body position when you run. Also, with more powerful arms and shoulders, you will be able to drive your arms at a more powerful rate. Arm drive is crucial to running faster.
Examples: Chin-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, alternating dumbbell press, any rowing or pressing variations.
Increase your power
Start with a basic plyometric programme. Get your athletes to jump and land soft with perfect mechanics.
Also, implement medicine ball training into your programme. Medicine ball exercises are a great way to increase your power and explosiveness. Introduce weight-lifting exercises with proper guidance.
(The author is CSCS (NSCA), C.H.E.K. and an expert trainer)