Muscle strength can lead to increases in running speed. Whether you are preparing for a race, enjoy running in your spare time or simply want to increase your speed, you need to do biweekly strength training and plyometric drills to develop and improve the muscles that you use when running. Plyometric exercises utilize and strengthen fast twitch muscles--the muscle fibers that contribute to short bouts of speed and energy that are helpful during sprints. Focus on developing a strong lower body and core. A strong core transfers power to your legs during a run and helps fight fatigue, thereby preventing decreases in speed.
Lower Body Exercises
Stand against a wall and rest your head against it. Walk your feet out in front of you. Stop when your knees are stacked over your ankles. Lower your butt toward the floor, stopping when your hamstrings (the backs of your legs) are parallel to the floor. Hold for one minute. Repeat three times.
Stand in front of a bench. Step up with your right foot and place your heel on the bench. Push up through your right heel and bring your left knee up in the air toward your chest. Return your left foot to the floor without touching the bench. Alternate feet until you have done 10 repetitions on each side. Complete two to three sets.
Lie on your back. Place a stability ball under your calves. Lift your lower body and lower back off the floor. Adjust your body until you could draw a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Curl your feet and the ball toward the backs of your legs. Return to the starting position and repeat until you complete 12 repetitions. Complete two to three sets.
Core Work and Plyometrics
Lie on your back. Extend your arms over your head and rest them on the floor. Place an exercise ball between your feet. Simultaneously lift the exercise ball and your hands and bring them together directly over your midsection. Pass the ball to your hands, lower to starting position and keep passing off the ball for one minute. Keep your arms and legs straight throughout the exercise. Perform two to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees stacked over your ankles. Maintain a soft bend in your knees. Tighten your core and stick out your butt. Lower your butt toward the floor as if lowering into a chair behind you. Stop when your hamstrings are parallel to the floor. Push up through your heels and jump as high as you can. Land softly on your feet, regain your balance and repeat 10 times.
Take a large step forward with your right foot. Line your right ankle up with your right knee. Come onto the toes of your left foot. Lower your left knee toward the floor. Push up through your right heel and jump up, switching your legs' positions. Alternate jumping lunges until you have done a total of 10 repetitions.
- Start with one weekly session of plyometrics--they are very tiring and require recovery time.
- Plyometrics are high impact, and persons with joint or knee injuries should contact their doctor before incorporating plyometrics into their routines.
- "ACE Personal Trainer Manual"; American Council on Exercise; 2003
- Sports Fitness Sports Fitness Advisor: Lower Body Plyometric Exercises
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.