The Need for Speed
From a compilation of BFS speed articles, manulas and pamphlets
Published: Spring 1996
Speed is one of the highest valued skills for athletes in every field. The ability to reach the goal or finish before the other man most often is the difference between winning and losing. In order to increase your speed, Bigger Faster Stronger recommends the following proven methods. Note that it is very important to include every step of the program:
I. You must Squat Parallel
Every muscle in the body needs to be trained for running especially the hamstring and the glute muscles. This is true because they are the largest muscles in the body and provide the greatest amount of power and explosiveness needed for a quick take-off. Many people squat several inches above parallel instead of completely parallel. This isolates the quadriceps resulting in a muscle imbalance which can cause tension, strains, and other related muscle injuries.
II. You must Power Clean
Cleaning also prepares muscles for take-off. The explosive movement occurring off the blocks is very similar to the explosive movement of the Power Clean. When Cleaning, start with a jump stance, which is a narrow stance similar to sprinting. When the bar crosses the knees explode up with full energy. The Power Clean trains the body for that sprint explosion needed for quick powerful speed.
III. You Must Do Straight Leg Dead Lifts
The straight leg dead lift is the key to quick speed. As flexibility and strength are increased so will your speed increase. The straight leg dead lift strengthens and stretches the glutes and hamstrings at the same time, increasing overall speed. Preliminary studies indicate that doing proper straight leg dead lifts can cut as much as two tenths off your forty time. The important thing to remember is not to load up the bar and go for maxes. In fact, this lift isn’t even recorded. Do not use any more than 40% of your squat max (most athletes only need 80 to 100 pounds). Do two to three sets of ten. Lift the bar as in the Dead Lift. Keeping the knees locked and in a controlled manner, lower the bar as far as possible, even as far as to tough the bar on the athlete must stand on a box as shown in the SLDL photo. Consider this a stretching exercise rather than on for strength.
IV. You Must Stretch Correctly and Hard Everyday
The further the muscle can stretch, the further the leg or any muscle can travel. When muscles are free and loose it makes the motion of that muscle more fluid and functional. This smooth motion takes the power from the muscle and transfers it smoothly and quickly to the ground greatly increasing the speed.
V. You Must Do Jumping and Bounding Plyometrics Twice per Week
Plyometrics bridge the gap between the work in the weight room and any arena or competition. This makes the power developed in the weight room functional. An excellent example of the occurred recently at a BFS clinic in Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana. An athlete, Abraham Moody, did three consecutive long jumps for a total of 30 feet on his first attempt and 29-6 on his second. Then he spent tem minutes going through a BFS Box Jumping Plyometric routine immediately followed by another triple jump for an amazing 31 feet. He bridged the gap and jumped an extra foot!
The BFS 8 Point Sprint Technique
Now that the basic off-field exercise techniques have been covered, the BFS 8-point Sprint Technique System will effectively assist athletes in increasing on-field speed. In order to utilize the BFS 8-point Sprint Technique System, one must become familiar with the system. This is accomplished through consistent weekly repetition at ½ to ¾ speed. Also note that learning can only effectively take place when the body and mind are fresh. The following is a list of guidelines for following the 8-point Sprint System:
1. The Sprint System should be done directly after the warm-up and flexibility period.
2. The maximum number of sprints should be nine which could be divided into three sprints per body area. If one of the areas proves more difficult for the athlete to learn, sprints can be increased concentrating on that particular area. However, nine learning sprints is the most even if the body areas are divided.
3. The distance for each sprint should be 30-50 yards with recovery time being 15-20 seconds or walk-back.
4. The speed of each sprint should be ½ or ¾ speed….never full speed for learning purposes
5. The sprint system should never be considered a part of the athletic conditioning, only a part of the learning process.
6. The sprint system should be done 2-4 times weekly in-season and off-season, in groups or individually. Feedback, from a coach, parent, or teammate is important.
The Actual Sprint
You must start low, explode out, extend completely with back leg and big vigorous arm action. Videotaping the sprint is highly recommended for analyzing the athlete’s performance. If you want to become a faster athlete follow the BFS 8-point Sprint Technique System.
1. Head – head should be upright.
2. Eyes- - eyes should be fixed looking straight ahead.
3. Back – back should be upright and slightly arched.
4. Shoulders – shoulders should rotate vigorously with elbows fixed in a 90-degree angle.
5. Wrist – wrist should simulate a whip action as the shoulder rotates back.
6. Legs – initial leg action is to lift forward then up. The lower leg should hang before planting.
7. Feet - feet should make the initial plant directly under the hips and not out in front of the body.
8. Knees – on the follow-through or end of the leg drive, the knee should fully extend.
Remember practice this sprint system, concentrate on one area of the body for each sprint (upper, torso, or lower). On the last sprint of each set combine the eight points to achieve a full speed sprint. Time and record the last sprint of each set in your logbook. Try to break the record each week. Practice this system tow to three times a week when the body is FRESH.
Following these guidelines and principles EVERY athlete can improve speed dramatically!