How to Improve Acceleration

how to improve acceleration

I want to gain more speed this offseason and I noticed what’s given me the most success in the past is when I’ve done sprints. Now that we are entering the winter season and weather conditions won’t play well in my favor because of snow, ice, etc., what other exercises can I do to build speed and agility that doesn’t require me to train outside?- Matt

Good question Matt! Let  me start by saying the goal should be to improve acceleration, not necessarily top speed. This is  one of the reasons why short sprints have helped your acceleration in the past. You won’t really hit top speed until 65 yards. So if your sport involves short sprints and sometimes longer ones (football, baseball, basketball) your goal should be to improve acceleration, not top speed.

1) Build a solid foundation of strength in the lower half. 

In order to produce forceful contractions, you need to have strong muscles. More specifically, in order to accelerate faster, the musculature of the lower body will need to produce forceful contractions. Strengthening the posterior chain is critical to building a solid foundation of strength in the lower body. Check out this list below of exercises that will help you build a strong and powerful lower half.

  • Squat Variations
  • Deadlift Variations
  • Glute Ham Raises
  • Back Extensions
  • Reverse Hyperextensions
  • Glute Bridge Variations
  • Lunge Variations
  • Split Squat Variations
  • Step-up Variations

2) Improve your rate of force development

Rate of force development refers to how quickly you can apply force. In regards to running, the more force you can apply to the ground, the faster you are going to accelerate.  Athletes who already have a solid foundation of strength should focus on improving rate of force development. 

The best ways to improve rate of force development are to jump, run and throw medicine balls. Aside from sprinting, these types of exercises do not require a lot of room and can be done inside of most gyms. Incorporate jumps into your workout before any type of strength training for 3-6 sets of 3-5 reps. Adhere to Prilepin’s chart to measure intensity and volume.

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  • Box jumps
  • Vertical Jumps
  • Broad Jumps
  • Kneeling Jumps
  • Depth Jumps
  • Heavy Sled Drags

3) Decrease your body fat

The fastest athletes have an extremely high relative body strength. In other words, they can control their bodyweight extremely well and are usually very lean. This doesn’t mean you have to have single digit body fat to accelerate faster, but dropping unnecessary bodyweight will help improve your speed.

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4) Strengthen your hip flexors

The hip flexors are often overlooked when it comes to speed training. Strong hip flexors are important to produce a powerful forward leg movement and a powerful knee drive. The best way to train the hip flexors are to perform hip flexion exercises with a neutral spine.

Hip Flexion with Neutral Spine Exercises:

  • Swiss Ball Jackknifes
  • Band Jackknifes
  • Hanging knee raise
  • Hanging leg raise
  • Dead bugs


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