What are Different Types of Speed Training Exercises?

Tara Barnett

Speed training exercises are intended to increase a person's maximum velocity, usually while running, and to improve endurance. A variety of techniques can be used to increase this maximum speed, including repetitive sprinting workouts, high kicks, and running stairs or bleachers. Some workouts also can include speed drills such as shuttle runs and ladder drills. Incorporating a weight-lifting workout also is important to increase strength, which can have a noticeable effect on overall speed.

Jogging provides an aerobic workout.
Jogging provides an aerobic workout.

It is important to include a warm up as the first part of any speed training exercise. Simply stretching and jogging for ten or more minutes is usually a sufficient warm up. Likewise, it is important to cool down after a demanding session of speed training exercises. Light stretching and jogging can help keep the body from getting hurt.

Sprinters should engage in stretching or light jogs before they run at maximum speed.
Sprinters should engage in stretching or light jogs before they run at maximum speed.

Generally, practicing sprinting itself is one of the main speed training exercises. Usually, this is performed in repetitions. One must include acceleration in these drills as well because average speed usually is impacted by how long it takes to meet maximum velocity. In sprinting drills, one should strive to hold nothing back from running in order to force muscles to improve. Observing proper form, however, is still absolutely essential to safe sprinting.

Runners may use athletic watches to monitor their speed, distance, and heart rate.
Runners may use athletic watches to monitor their speed, distance, and heart rate.

Some basic exercises that can also improve speed include high kicks, heel kicks, hopping, and skipping. Weight training focused on the legs also can improve the body's ability to exert force on the ground, allowing for faster propulsion forward. Being strong is not the only aspect of running, though, so it is important to practice running for distance as well.

Strength training can help runners improve their speed.
Strength training can help runners improve their speed.

In some cases, the best kinds of speed training exercises for sports are incorporated into practices for the sport being played. Some sports require short bouts of spring running, whereas others require long stretches of endurance running. Training exercises may include shuttle runs, running stairs or bleachers, and a variety of timed sprint dashes. When working through these exercises, reserving no energy for later is the best way to improve speed in the long run. This kind of exertion usually is not a good idea during game play, but may be essential during practice for improving speed.

It is important to remember that speed alone is worth very little if a person is not also agile. Agility drills are an important aspect of speed training exercises because a person who is running at a high velocity must also be able to make small adjustments while running in order to play a sport effectively. Exercises such as ladder drills, grapevines, and other detailed running patterns can improve agility. A player who is agile may even have a greater advantage on the playing field than one who is merely fast, so these drills should be included in any speed training regimen.

Sprinting improves speed from a stopped position.
Sprinting improves speed from a stopped position.

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Discussion Comments


@umbra21 - I just can't really afford to get a professional trainer, and I don't really have the time to do a lot of speed and agility training.

The thing that has helped me the most is just good, old-fashioned running up stairs. Or any kind of hill. It's really hard, but nothing has ever got my speed up so quickly.


@MrsPramm - Even aside from the risk of injury, a professional will be able to increase your speed much more than you can do on your own and that works for swimming, cycling or running.

My sister does a lot of training and she used to always complain that she was never able to keep up with her friends, even though she would do more work than they seemed to.

She went to a really good personal trainer and the woman gave her what was essentially just a few really good pointers on her movement as well as talking to her about strength training. Since then my sister thinks her speed has increased by much more than she ever thought it would.


There are some kinds of speed training drills you can find online and just do on your own. Even just speeding up and slowing down alternatively on your normal run can help.

But there are other techniques that you really shouldn't attempt without the help of a personal trainer. You don't have to hire one for regular sessions. Even just go to one with what you want to do and have them write you out a program and show you what to do for it before you try.

You can really injure yourself or do a lot of work for little reward if you aren't an expert. I'd proceed with caution.

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