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Practical Speed Training

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Speed is probably the most vital determinant of sports performance. The player who gets to the ball first, the athlete who gets out of the blocks first, and the tennis player whose serve is past their opponent before they can react, all demonstrate how important speed is to winning performance.

Dear Athlete

Speed is much, much more than the ability to run at maximum velocity, it is also integral to accelerating oneself – or an object – as fast as possible. In the latter case, it can refer to the ‘arm speed’ required by a racquet-holder, javelin thrower or baseball pitcher.

Not only are speed requirements varied – so too are the methods used to boost speed. The enhancement of speed relies not only on training the sportsman and sportswoman’s muscles, but also their mind – and, as recent sports scientific studies prove, their central nervous system as well.

However, some training methods are so much more effective than others in boosting speed. It’s these speed training ‘secrets’ that we’ve brought together in our brand new report, Practical Speed Training.

In this special report all these aspects are covered in a very practical way – we identify not just what works, but how YOU can make it work for you… or for the athletes you coach…

Click here to go to our special, 42% discount offer. Or read on to learn more about Practical Speed Training

Meet Our Expert Team of Sports Advisers

The report is authored by three experienced speed training practitioners:

John Shepherd is Peak Performance’s online editor. As such, he has a wealth of knowledge on training and conditioning across a wide range of sports. He is also a former international athlete who still competes at masters level. He coaches international athletes and advises coaches and athletes from numerous sports.

Simon Thadani is the football conditioning coach with the English Championship football side, Ipswich Town.

Phil Gardiner is a top level 4 track and field coach, who also coaches rugby players.

All three contributors are highly experienced professionals working with elite athletes across a range of different sports. Added together, their collective wisdom and experience in speed training methods amounts to at least several hundred dollars worth of advice and input.

But you can get it today, for a tiny fraction of its real value.

Their advice is informed, up-to-date – and highly pertinent to all athletes seeking to gain speed, harness this to winning performances – and achieve their personal best.

In Practical Speed Training‘s 82 pages you’ll find both (1) a concise, readable explanation of the science behind speed, and (2) numerous practical workouts with full exercise descriptions and suggested routines for adaptation and use by sportsmen and sportswomen and their coaches.

We’ve made sure that the report’s content and programmes cover numerous sporting speed applications – for example speed endurance, acceleration and out-and-out speed – so the training methods are applicable across a wide range of different sports.

Our chapter on the role of the central nervous system should be considered in training of sportsmen and sportswomen from all sports (see chapter 3). If it is not, then it is very likely that performance will actually become slower.

The report’s core finding: apply the appropriate training methods and workouts, and your speed can be improved to a considerable degree. Yes, EVERYONE can become quicker – you just need to know how to do it right.

Now, thanks to Practical Speed Training, you have the practical tools you need to achieve this for yourself or in those you coach.

As a subscriber to our website, you’re invited to get your copy of this brand new special report TODAY at an exclusive discount price – but for a LIMITED time only. (More details on how to get your copy below.)

What You’ll Learn From Practical Speed Training

Whether you’re an athlete or coach, you’ll find that Practical Speed Training is packed with plenty of useful, actionable information. Answers to such key performance-enhancing questions as:

  • What are the different kinds of speed – and which ones should YOU be training for your sport (pp. 12-14)
  • What can marathon runners learn from the way sprinters train for speed? (p. 13)
  • Why is it some speed training techniques can actually REDUCE an athlete’s speed – and how do you avoid this fate? (p. 17)
  • How much of an aerobic base does a sprint athlete need? (p. 18)
  • What’s the best way to maintain in-season speed? (pp. 20-21)
  • Why is intensity, not volume, the key to improving sprint performance? (p. 23)
  • Why is the Central Nervous System so crucial an element in sprint training? (p. 31)
  • What’s the best way to warm up for speed training? (p. 39-45)
  • How can you improve your running technique – and thereby your speed? (pp. 48-51)
  • Which workouts are best for developing maximum speed? (pp. 61-63)
  • How can do you develop more speed endurance – without running the risk of over-training? (p. 67)
  • What’s the key to developing maximum speed on the pitch in football players? (p. 71)
  • How do you decide which strength training exercises are best for sprinters(p. 29)
  • When strength training for speed, what is best: more sets, or more reps? (p. 79)
  • How much recovery is needed for peak performance? (p. 79)

Where else can you find such cutting-edge advice in one place – and all of it based on the very latest sports science research?

As one of our recent customers put it:

“Academically rigorous, topical, 'elite' standard sports research. Translates research findings into easy to follow, practical, training and racing guidelines and tips.”
Stephen Cardiff
CEO, Masters Swimming Australia

No ‘locker room theories’ here – I promise!

So if you’re really serious about achieving your maximum sporting potential, maybe it’s time to take advantage of the latest speed-training science – and steal a march on your opponents!

Get your copy of Practical Speed Training TODAY, at our special, 42%-discount price.

What’s more, postage & packing is free. And you’ve got 30 days in the convenience of your own home or sports club to decide whether or not you want to keep the book or return it for a full refund.

So make sure you order your copy TODAY – before copies run out.

Yours sincerely

Sylvester Stein
Chairman: Peak Performance

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Getting the Fundamentals Right: what exactly is speed, and how can it best be trained?

Speed is a more complex concept than might appear at first sight. So we kick off the report with a discussion of the various types of sports speed.

Because understanding the different speed types will help you consolidate the information, training routines and exercises we provide in the subsequent chapters.

For example, an athlete may apply speed in a straight line, over a turn or other rotational movement, through a punch, hit, kick, tackle, throw, jump, dive or reaction. Speed can involve the whole body, as in sprinting, or be unleashed ultimately through a single limb, as with the javelin throw, or tennis serve.

In all, we identify 11 different types of speed – and explain how they are most appropriately used, and in which sports.

A particularly interesting aspect of the discussion is the way in which we demonstrate how different athletes can “borrow” some of the training elements used by athletes in other sports, and apply these to their own. For example, it would not be productive for a marathon runner to train like a sprinter, as they would not develop the necessary heart and lung capacity to be successful. However, it would benefit all endurance athletes to ‘borrow’ some of the training elements that sprinters use in order to enhance their endurance speed, speed endurance, running economy and out-and-out speed.

By the end of the discussion you’ll understand not only all the different aspects of speed, but which ones are most appropriate for your sport.

And that sets you up nicely for the chapters that follow.

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Turning Sprint Training on its Head: a radical approach that brings big benefits

When coaching speed it is crucial that neither coach nor athlete loses sight of the fact that speed should never be lost, only built on.

Because all too often in track and field, most speed athletes, such as sprinters, long jumpers and hurdlers would normally begin their training for the next season with periods of slow running and strength endurance work. In doing this they would in some way nullify the gains in speed that they have spent all the previous summer season developing.

In the next chapter of Practical Speed Training we show you how to avoid this sports conditioning ‘trap’. We share with you a radical approach to sprint training that is designed to build more speed on more speed by turning on its head the traditional approach to periodising a sprinter’s training regime.

NB: this is a particularly effective approach for Masters athletes, for whom it offers the greatest potential for increased speed.

I’ll not divulge more here, save to say it offers the following concrete benefits for athletes:

  • maximises physical speed development
  • optimally stimulates the central nervous system
  • reduces injuries (athletes using the traditional method can pick up injuries when attempting to sprint after months of much slower work)
  • allows for more speed peaks
  • minimises the negative effects of de-training speed and power-producing fast twitch muscle fibre.

Along the way, the discussion answers such fundamental questions as: how much of an aerobic base does a sprint athlete need; what is the best way to maintain speed in season; and how do you combine training for sprint work and other running training?

We also explain why intensity, not volume, is the key to improved sprint performance. This approach to training allows athletes never to be too far away from absolute condition at any time in the training year.

A key feature of the chapter is an illustration of a triple periodisation programme for a sprint athlete drawing on one used by the 100m sprinter, Ben Johnson.

It’s a rare insight into how a truly great athlete trains – and one that is arguably worth the cost of the report.

We also share with you an 8-week speed endurance training programme designed to increase both the immediate and short-term anaerobic fitness. Designed by George Dintiman, one of the world’s leading speed training experts, it is valuable training material not just for runners, but for numerous other professional field sports, such as football and rugby.

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How to Gain that Crucial Advantage: training the Central Nervous System

When it comes to providing energy for sports performance, the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems would probably be at the top of most coaches’ and athletes’ lists.

However, there is another source, perhaps less well known, but potentially more important – the central nervous system (CNS).

That’s because the CNS interprets and relays signals from around the body, via the spinal cord and brain. It’s a complex system, a sort of control system for the body, and one that is inextricably linked to athletic performance. Its behaviour has traditionally been thought of as being conscious, involving a degree of interpretation through the senses – however it is likely that much of its activity functions at a more unconscious level.

If coach and athlete can understand its operation and relevance to athletic training and tap its full potential, then the result will be personal best performances, less chance of burn out and maximum training adaptation. So in Practical Speed Training we explain how the CNS works – in particular its crucial role in controlling muscular recruitment.

Because for the athlete, tweaking the CNS could be the diagnostic that unleashes their ultimate potential – perhaps for the very first time.

Along the way we examine important areas of sports conditioning: sprinting and weight training. We show you how a smarter approach to both can enhance your sports performance.

The aim when training and maintaining the energy of the CNS should be to keep it sufficiently energised and fatigue-free to maintain high power outputs and create that vital high level of muscle excitation and neural energy. It’s a bit like the fine-tuning that goes into an F1 car. It’s not good enough for the machine just to run at 199mph – every ounce of performance needs to be squeezed out, so it can achieve 200mph (or whatever its maximum speed is).

A further consideration when analysing the CNS’s ability to generate increased athletic power is what’s known as ‘potentiation’. Performing sprints before a weights workout, or plyometrics, or vice-versa, has been shown to enhance the performance of the subsequent activity. It is believed that this occurs because the CNS, the muscles, and their associated nerves boost neural excitation, recruit motor unit and muscle fibre and reduce inhibition under these circumstances.

Basically, the horse-power of your muscles is temporarily boosted. NB: the potentiating activity must not unduly fatigue the CNS, otherwise the transference effect could be cancelled out.

The explanation for this is that muscles are made up of thousands of fibres that are switched on by neural energy coming from the brain through the spinal cord and through motor units and motor neurons. A sprinter has to want to run fast to run fast – to supply the required neural (mental) energy. If he or she is ‘in the zone’ then the supply of this neural energy to the muscles (and therefore a stream of fast and powerful contractions) can be almost continuous with the result of better performance.

Potentiation seems to create a set of circumstances within the CNS that boosts the excitation of muscle fibres, allowing them to release additional power.

In Practical Speed Training we show you how to achieve all of this – not only how to train the CNS but, crucially, how much recovery to build in to achieve these results.

NB: CNS training is potent stuff – and needs to be handled with care. Executed the right way, however, it has the potential to revolutionise your sports performance. You’ll find all the details in chapter 3…

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Getting Ready to Go REALLY Fast: warming up properly for speed

Speed training and competition is very intense; it’s therefore crucial that the athlete warms up appropriately. Particularly if you have not trained regularly for speed and power then you will need to spend some time getting your body ready before you go flat out. This cautious approach will reduce injury risk and condition you to withstand the forces to which your body will be subject.

Even if you are well conditioned for your sport you should always approach a new drill or skill with appropriate caution. Just because you are fast in a straight line, your body is not necessarily adept or conditioned to withstand fast changes of direction. So always underestimate what you think you can achieve and learn the technique of each drill first before performing them at 100%.

In Practical Speed Training we provide full details of a twice-a-week warm-up session designed for club standard (or above) sportsmen and women who have been in regular sports specific training for more than six months.

The programme comprises a series of dynamic mobility drills designed to optimise sprint technique. In so doing, they take your muscles through the range of movement required for sprinting and other speed training.

We explain in some detail how to perform each exercise, providing specific technique tips where required. Everything you need to carry out the warm-up session correctly and safely.

The session also includes a series of neuromuscular enhancement drills – designed to stimulate your neuromuscular system so that you will be in your best speed shape when it’s time to sprint flat out in the main part of your workout.

It’s powerful stuff!

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Run Better, Run Faster: style techniques that give you greater speed

Whatever your sport, you will be a faster runner if you have an efficient running technique. That’s because, stride for stride, you’ll more efficiently turn energy into forward motion. You’ll in effect be able to achieve more with the same amount of effort.

That’s why athletes from numerous sports spend a great deal of their time performing sprint drills. These take a specific element or elements of the sprint action and allow the athlete to focus on them. Drills can form part of the warm up, as in chapter 4, but they can also form a session in their own right.

So in this part of Practical Speed Training, we provide eight sprint drills specifically designed to make you a faster runner, by improving your technique. In each instance, we first explain the drill’s objective, then how to perform it – so you know not just what to do but, crucially, why.

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Achieving a Quick Getaway: developing maximum acceleration from a standing start

It’s not just sprinters who need to be quick off the mark. Field and court players also benefit greatly from this kind of acceleration. What’s more, middle and long distance runners can use such training techniques as a means of increasing leg power, which will improve their top end speed and in-race acceleration.

So the special acceleration workout explained in this next chapter of Practical Speed Training is, like the ones preceding it, of considerable value across a wide variety of sports.

Again, the focus throughout is on sharing practical, proven sports drills with athletes – and their coaches. You learn not just exactly how to correctly perform each drill – but what it will do to enhance your acceleration.

In all, you’ll learn exactly how to perform 6 different acceleration drills – they could make the different between winning or losing your next competition!

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Top-End Speed: how to make sure you are the quickest on the field

Our next section of Practical Speed Training focuses on improving maximum, out and out speed. Truly top-end stuff.

The discussion centres on rules and practices that footballers can do to improve their speed. But the exercises are equally suitable for sprinters and all sportsmen and sportswomen whose sports require sustained out-and-out speed, for example hockey, football and rugby players. Other field, court and racquet sports players (whose sports rarely afford the opportunity to sprint flat out in a straight line, over a relatively long distance) can also benefit from the power that these workouts develop.

In all we describe four different maximum speed workouts: how to do them, how many sets are best, and what recovery you should build in to the exercises.

Try them and see what a difference they make to your performance on the field.

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Speed Endurance for Sprinters: how to make sure you can go the distance

Top end speed is one thing, sustaining top speed for a substantial period of time quite another. So in Practical Speed Training we devote a chapter specifically to developing so-called speed endurance.

You’ll find details of a special, 2 sessions a week, 8-week programme suitable for a 100m or 200m sprinter who is tapering for a competition period. However the very same principles can usefully be applied to a number of other sports where speed endurance is a requirement for peak performance.

This workout is particularly useful for the club standard and above 200m. A 100m specialist might drop session 1 in favour of a session similar to session 2. A 400m specialist, meanwhile, could add an extra repetition to the speed endurance elements of session 1, but would still benefit greatly from including session 2 in their training programme.

NB: these are tough, high intensity workouts and should not be performed by the unconditioned or by those who have had a long lay-off from training. Ideally they should be performed after an appropriate preceding periodisation plan.

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Sport-Specific Speed: Football Training

There is no doubt that football is getting quicker, and that speed is increasingly becoming a competitive edge.

The evidence is conclusive in the pace of a Thierry Henry or Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s not only that players are getting physically and mentally faster, but coaches are training players and teams to move the ball faster and encouraging players to counter-attack more than ever.

Also, the emphasis on scouting players with pace has become prominent.

So the next section of Practical Speed Training focuses on how to train footballers for speed. Our approach recognises two different aspects – good base strength (the foundation) and field work.

The latter involves the use of speed drills and techniques that look at components such as foot to ground contact and movement, agility and acceleration. Note: it is important to work to maximum during this phase. If this is not done then improvement will not follow, as the players’ neuromuscular systems will not be enhanced.

Football is a multi-directional, multiple pace, explosive, but aerobically-based game; therefore drills should simulate what happens in a game. Players normally only have to sprint for 2–5 seconds and the maximum length of sprint is around 70 metres. When conditioning football speed you need always to focus on these match requirements and condition accordingly.

The discussion breaks sprinting up into eight key areas for training, before going on to explain precisely how to tackle each component part.

The good news is, even if you can improve only two or three of these components, the player will get appreciably faster on the field.

Importantly, the chapter also identifies 17 ‘do’s and don’ts’ of speed training – you’ll want to make sure you read this section, just in case – then concludes with two speed tests you ca use with your players to assess how well they have been adapting to your training.

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Weight Training for Speed: do you have the strength you need to go fast?

One of the greatest conundrums for a coach is how to develop greater power in the weights room that will actually improve sports speed.

All too often, athletes across numerous sports spend their preparatory training phases getting stronger and developing a great physique only to become very dismayed when their performances are not an improvement on last season’s – or worse still – disappointing when they compete.

However, increasing the power potential of an athlete centres around enhancing the neuromuscular system in a way that enables it to exert more force, more quickly and engage as many speed and power producing fast twitch fibres as possible. The specific development of maximum strength is the key to improving speed, power and, interestingly, endurance, for the following reasons:

it increases motor unit activation, resulting in high recruitment of fast twitch fibre

  • it has a high neural (mental focus) requirement, which can translate to improved sports performance, by ‘teaching’ the body how to generate optimum force and speed
  • it is important in sports where increased power is required but without an increase in muscle mass – which could increase the athlete’s weight and negatively effect their power to weight ratio
  • improved synchronisation of muscle groups under heavy loading; will result in improved sports performance. The ‘smoother’ and more skilled an athlete is at performing a powerful activity, whilst recruiting the maximum fast twitch muscle fibre (and numbers of motor units), the better they will be at performing dynamic sports skills.

In our discussion of how best to strength train for maximum sporting speed we tackle a number of crucial issues;

  • What is the optimal rate of muscle contraction?
  • How many exercises should be includes in a workout – and which ones?
  • What’s best – more reps, or more sets?
  • How much recovery is required for optimal performance in the gym – and the acquisition of greater power?

It’s fascinating stuff – and essential information if you’re after more power, and more speed!

Details of your special, discount offer

As a registered member of our Peak Performance web site, you qualify for a copy of Practical Speed Training at a special 42% discount. Place your order today and you pay just $34.99 (£21.69) instead of the full price of $59.99 (£42.99).

You save 42%.

Practical Speed Training is one of a series of special reports from Peak Performance, the sports science newsletter. This practical work book is not available elsewhere.

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