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Speed & Power Training For The 40!

This article is going to give you some insight on speed and power training to enhance your 40-yard dash time.

My last article looked at improving the technical aspects of lowering your 40-yard dash time. This article is going to give you some insight on speed and power training to enhance you 40 time.

First let's define these two important components. Speed is the ability to move a given distance in the shortest possible time. It is the key to performance on the field of play. Power is the product of strength and speed, the ability to move maximal force in the shortest time possible. By enhancing both of these aspects of sports performance, we can increase performance and lower our 40 times.

Speed Training

Speed training can be broken up into different components. Resisted, overspeed, form running, acceleration and sport-specific speed. All these training modalities can be used in a training program to increase an athlete's speed. Depending on the athlete's limitations, we can select different types to enhance acceleration, top end speed and sport-specific speed.

Resisted Speed Training
Can include the use of a resisted device to overload the running stride of the athletes, such as the OPS Parachute, OPS Super Sprint Cords and Speed Trainers, etc. Depending on the device selected, different aspects of speed development can be targeted. An example is the OPS parachute, since the chute does not open and provide resistance until the 5-10 yard mark, it targets top end speed and not acceleration.

Where the OPS sprint cords provide resistance from the first stride forward the target acceleration. When adding resistance to the running stride it should not compromise the running technique.

Overspeed Training
Includes any type of exercise that forces the body to move itself faster than normal. The use of sprint cord pulls (right) are great to improve acceleration from the start position. Another example of overspeed training is running on a slight 1-3 degree decline. With this type of training are teaching the body to move at high speeds.

Form Running
Includes fundamental movements that mimic the running stride. They can be used as great warm-up drills before a speed workout. Running technique is critical to speed development. If technique is poor, speed will not be enhanced. Form running includes A's, B's, Butt Kicks, Skips, Arm Swings etc.

When speed training remember that the key is quality not quantity. Full recovery is essential to increase speed. Keep the distances specific to the sport or goal (40 yard).

Power Training

When training for power two main types of training are used: Plyometrics and Olympic lifting. When power training, we target fast-twitch muscle fiber recruitment. These fibers are explosive in nature and will enhance an athlete's speed potential.

Plyometrics - Learn More
Bridge the gap between strength and functional sport-specific power. Include explosive movements such as: in-place jumps, standing jumps, hops, bounds, shocks, and upper body plyos etc. The concept of Plyometrics is to turn on the fast-twitch muscle fibers in the muscle by performing explosive, dynamic exercises that include an eccentric lengthening followed by an explosive contraction to enhance power output. Some great examples are squat jumps, split squat jumps, single leg hops and hurdle hops (see right).

Olympic Lifting
Deadlifts, Cleans, Snatches, and Squats can be classified as Olympic lifts. They are explosive exercises that place the nervous system under a high degree of stress and increase the number of motor units that are excited and recruited in sync, thus improving power output. They can enhance the power needed to be generated off the start for improved acceleration.

How To Incorporate This Into Your Training Program

This type of speed and power training should be performed during the off-season. Speed and power training should be completed 3 times per week in addition to a comprehensive strength program. When training to improve the 40-yard dash time, include all aspects of speed training: first refine technical aspects of your running stride, work on acceleration, then top end speed. The power training should complement the speed work with Plyometrics and Olympic lifting. This will develop the explosiveness need for improved acceleration and a lower forty yard time.

About The Author

Mike Gough BSc, CSCS, CFC is president of Mike is currently training top NCAA football players for the NFL draft combines. He has previously held the position of Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Indians. He can be reached for consultation by e-mail at

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