VIDEO: Training for Speed ~ How to Set-up A Proper Workout

They say speed kills.

Usually they're talking about vehicle accidents, but it kills in sport too. The ability to blast past your opponent is a huge advantage in just about every sport.

I was in San Diego this past weekend learning from and training with Julien Pineau and the Invictus CrossFit crew (more on that in a future post). While I was down there, I took advantage of all the great tracks that so many of the high schools have. Average high schools have 8-10 lane rubberized tracks. That's not something you see in Toronto.... 


Find a track near you

By the way, if you want to find a track near you in the US, use this website.

Now I'm going to walk you through a workout that I did, and explain the rational behind it.

For this workout in San Diego, I did 8x70m with about 2.5-3min rest between sets. Let me explain why I set it up that way.

Why did I pick 70m?

I reach top speed at about 50m, and can only maintain that for another 20m or so before I start noticeably decelerating. Since the goal of that workout was to train my top end speed, I need to spend as much time there as possible.

As soon as I start slowing down, I'm no longer training pure speed. Plus, I will be accumulating a lot of fatigue. That fatigue means that I'll need more rest before my next set, and that I probably won't be able to do as many total sets with the highest speed possible - because my legs will get too tired.

My goal is to do as many high quality/high speed sets as possible. 

Why did I choose to do 8 sets?

Because by set 7, and definitely by set 8, my speed was decreasing. As soon as the quality of the set went down, I ended the workout. If I'd had more time, I could have taken a 20-30min break, and then done more sets, but for me, 8 sets will be sufficient to produce a good stimulus. 


Here are some key points when training for speed:

  • To train speed, you need to be fast. You need to push it to 100%. Sounds obvious, but each set needs to be of the highest quality. Take enough rest to allow full recovery (this is not fatigue based training), and when you feel a drop-off, it's time to rest more or end the training session.
  • High speed training can be an injury risk. If your body isn't conditioned to full out sprinting, start with hill sprints. This reduces the actual speed that you can produce (and the strain on the muscles), but allows you to produce a lot of force and work at 100% with lower risk. For relatively strong people who aren't used to sprinting, the risk of a hamstring strain is very real. 

    Do at least a few weeks of building a base through hill sprints, sled sprints and track sprints at 75-90% of your top speed to condition the body for maximum speeds. And if your body doesn't feel 100%, don't sprint that day. You're asking for trouble.
  • For more info on speed training, I suggest reading "The Charlie Francis Training System". I get no money from recommending that, but Francis was regarded as one of the best sprint coaches in the world, and he wrote extensively about his training methods.
  • Out on the play ground in high school (even without any training) Hussein Bolt would be faster than you or me. Some people are naturally faster than others, but we can all improve.