Speed Workouts and Recovery

Speed Workouts and Recovery

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Improve your speed with sprints, plyometrics and weight training.

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Athletes of nearly every sport will see an improvement in performance if they can increase their speed. An increase in speed means being able to get away from a defender, winning races and getting to a ball before your opponent. How fast you are is partly dependent on your muscle make-up and genetics, but you can make vast improvements with an effective training program. Your workouts are what stimulates neural and muscular developments, but you've got to give your body enough recovery time for these improvements to occur.

Speed Workout Frequency

To see significance improvements in your speed, be consistent with your workouts. Schedule two speed workouts into your weekly schedule, allowing two to three days in between each one. recommends that you give your muscles at least 48 hours of rest in between high-intensity workouts so that your muscles and central nervous system can fully recover. When you perform workouts of high volume and don't allow for adequate recovery, your central nervous system remains fatigued and is unable to send signals to your muscles as efficiently.

Workout Components

Your speed depends on your central nervous system's ability to communicate to your muscles, as well as your leg strength and power. You can improve the efficiency of your neuromuscular system by performing sprints. Leg strength is built with weight training, and power is developed with plyometrics. Plyometrics are power movements that require you to briefly stretch and then immediately explosively contract your muscles. You can either schedule each of these three components on the same day or do your weight training and plyometrics two days of the week and your sprints on separate two days.


If you are training to improve speed for a specific sport, your sprint workout should be designed with your sport in mind. If you're a basketball player, for example, you don't want to do sprints that are farther than a basketball court without changing directions. After a 10- to 15-minute dynamic warmup, perform an array of sprints at different distances. For example, begin with one to two sprints at 100 yards, then a couple each at 50, 30 and 10 yards. You should include sprints of varying distances because your sport requires you to sometimes sprint for short lengths and sometimes at longer lengths. If you're using speed workouts for general fitness purposes, you can train at a single sprint distance or add variety by mixing in sprints of varying distances. Give yourself a one-to-one rest and recovery period between sprints. If it takes you 15 seconds to sprint 100 yards, rest 15 seconds before going into the next sprint.

Weight Training and Plyometrics

Plyometrics are explosive exercises that develop power in your legs. Complete two sets each of bounds and jump squats. To perform bounds, lower into a squat and then explode up into a jump, traveling as far forward as you can. As soon as you land, take off again. Complete five to 10 reps in each set. Jump squats involve lowering into a squat and then taking off into a maximum height vertical jump. Land softly and go right into a squat to perform the next rep. Do 10 reps in each set. To build strength in your legs, include squats and lunges into your workout. Complete two to three sets of six to 10 reps each. Add a barbell on the back of your shoulders to increase their intensity.


The time in between your workouts is when your muscles heal and develop. If you don't give them enough time to recover, you'll limit your training benefits and even see decreases in performance. Avoid working out before your muscles get 48 hours of rest in between training sessions. On a day of a scheduled workout, if you feel fatigued or sore, push your workout to the next day. As soon as you're finished with a workout, consume a small meal containing carbohydrates and protein. On your rest days, facilitate recovery by fueling yourself with healthy foods, hydrating and getting enough sleep.