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Attacking Limiting Factors: Speed Training

As the Power Athlete Speed Program became an Instagram sensation, I found myself trolling the overused and often misapplied hashtag #speed. After sifting through countless badass car pics and heartbreaking plantar flexion bae pics (Paige, call me. We have to talk…), I stumbled upon a gem from @poliquingroup connecting five movements to speed development. While these movements can develop speed, their transfer into sprinting depends on so much more than simply checking the boxes!

What about limiting factors? Read on.


Pop Quiz, Hotshot!

Before we even train, let’s define speed so we can impose the appropriate adaptation.

Speed is a neural quality, a non-structural adaptation of the nervous system’s effectiveness with activating and deactivating tissue.

As discussed in Novice Athlete, training aims to expand top-end speed through an increase in Neuromuscular Efficiency. Athletes just starting sprint training improve performance largely as a consequence of strength increase, while their ability to relax muscle remains the same (1). Inexperienced coaches will then fall into the trap of more strength = more speed. Remember, their initial improvement is a form of the novice effect, so “more” will not always translate to “better”.

Once an athlete establishes a Base Level of Strength, they must shift focus on speed development. At this stage, the athlete must train to increase their capacity for efficient muscle relaxation to expand speed. Strength training alone will no longer drive speed improvement, so we must balance it with an intelligent speed program that attacks the following limiting factors from two arenas: the weight room, and the field.

The Weight Room: Ain't Nothin' But a peanut

Speed development comes down to the nervous system, not the muscular system. We target the nervous system on three fronts:

1. Posture and Position: Detect and Correct

Speed is a product of posture, posture is a product of hours addressing iso-stability in the form of Dead Bug Home Position, Captain Morgans, and cervical loading. This is not typical “core” work. We are stressing the trunk as the athlete maintains long posture and precisely moves their limbs. This not only challenges and develops neuromuscular efficiency; we’ll also see where they’ll fail during the high forces of an all-out sprint.

Position refers to the athlete’s ability to maintain posture and the limb position as they move through space. Do they move well or are they flailing? Training the athlete to detect and correct movement errors in the weight room will increase their capacity for efficient muscle excitation and relaxation, a quality which separates those who test well from those who Game well!

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Tex McQuilkin

Director of Training at Power Athlete
Book a consult with me regarding coaching, training, life, education... anything your heart desires. Click below:

Former collegiate lacrosse defensive midfielder, 4-year letter winner and 3-year team captain. Coached strength and conditioning collegiately with Georgetown University football, Men's and Women's lacrosse and Women's Crew, as well with the University of Texas at Austin's football program. Apprenticed under Raphael Ruiz of 1-FortyFour-1 studying proper implementation of science based, performance driven training systems. Head coached CrossFit Dupont's program for two years in Washington D.C. Received a Master's in Health Promotion Management from Marymount University in 2010, and has been a coach for Power Athlete since October, 2012.
Tex McQuilkin
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One Response to Attacking Limiting Factors: Speed Training

  1. JZ

    On point article! I wish the world would understand the difference between Sprinting and Conditioning! Two separate modalities in the WAYTF world

    Keep it up Tex!

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