Planning An Effective
Speed Training Program

Speed training program

Without a properly designed speed training program you can sometimes find yourself training hard yet still not achieving the improvements you require.

To get what you want from training:

  • You must know where you are now.
  • You must know where you want to be in the future.
  • You must know the types/methods of training that will get you there.
  • You must know how and when to apply the training

Over the last few years, there have been two leading thinkers in the field of training theory. They are Tudor Bompa and Anotoli Bondachuck. I will be referring often to what I have learnt from these guys to explain how you might go about designing a speed training program for yourself or athletes you work with.

These are the same principles I use to design the training programs for the world champions and Olympic medallists I work with!

Know What To Do

In Bondachuck’s model, training is divided into 4 categories:

  1. Competitive Exercises (CE)
  2. Specialized Developmental Exercises (SDE)
  3. Specialized Preparatory Exercises (SPE)
  4. General Preparatory Exercises (GPE)

To explain further, within the category above, Preparatory exercises prepare the body for exercises performed in the higher category. Developmental exercises, serve to develop the key physiological functions and movement patterns of the main sport, and Competitive exercises bring about and integrate, the physiological improvements created by the lower categories movements.

Competitive Exercises

Competitive exercises refer to training that is identical or almost identical to competition movements. And/or training which uses the competition movements in easier or more difficult conditions.

This will include training which breaks down the competition distance into segments to allow the athlete to practice and master different phases of the race or distances which the athlete has to sprint. Training which will be suitable for your speed training program in this category might include:

  • Acceleration work both from blocks (if  you are a track and field athlete), standing or other starting positions
  • Maximum speed work
  • Speed endurance training

Specialized Developmental Exercises

Specific Development exercise is training which activates the same muscle groups or a significant (major) parts of the CE group of exercises. Training in this category will utilize the same muscle groups in rhythm and sequence. Training will repeat the competitive exercise in its separate parts, utilize the same muscle groups and systems, and will overload the athlete in a way that CE training alone could not achieve.

The types of training which would fit into your speed training program under the heading of SDE will include forms of running that overload the body’s systems in a number of ways. These will include:

  • Resisted running Assisted running
  • Intensive tempo runs
  • Extensive tempo runs and…
  • Strength endurance work using weighted exercises and drills

Specialized Preparatory Exercises

Specialized preparatory exercises do not repeat the competitive movements in whole or part. However, they do activate the same muscle groups and stimulate the same physiological systems that will ultimately be used in the CE.

SPE overload the muscles and other systems involved in sprinting but without involving the running action. This type of training would fit into your speed training program as follows:

  • Barbell and dumbbell exercises in the gym 
  • Multiple throws
  • Multiple jumps

SPE include work that covers every classification of strength from maximum strength to reactive strength.

General Preparatory Exercises

General preparatory exercises are exercises that are not specific to any sport. The movement of the exercises does not resemble any of the competitive movement in either whole or parts (mechanics) and in some cases not even the physiological system. These exercises only develop general physical qualities and coordination which serve to improve work capacity and recovery.

GPE tend to bare no resemblance to running and include all the different types of exercises for the trunk, upper and lower extremities. Exercises which can be included in your speed training program are:

  • Torso strengthening exercises such as sit ups and bridging exercise
  • Isolated lower extremity exercises such as sand pit work for the ankles and feet
  • General strength work such as circuit training, press ups, pull ups and rope climbing

The above methodology and approach to putting together a speed training program is proven time and again. If you were to now divide your training year into general preparation, specific preparation and competition preparation, you will see how each of the 4 categories fit into the training year.

Have fun!

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