Get faster by getting stronger. Strength training will make you stronger so that you will be able to apply more force into the ground, which is the key to running fast. Power and running mechanics are also necessary to be fast, but research shows being strong may be more important.
A new study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology provides new evidence into what is already known about how to get fast—you have to be strong and you have to be able to apply that strength with the most efficiency. The study analyzed movement patterns and various makers of force, power, and speed in sprinters in the 100 meters. The study used both recreational sprinters and elite sprinters from France, and included the French National Champion in the 100 and 200 meters.
The ability to apply maximal force into the ground appeared to be the most important factor in sprint speed and ability to accelerate quickly. A high step frequency also correlated with optimal speed and acceleration. It makes sense—the faster you can apply force to the ground to propel you forward, the faster you’ll be.
If you want to get faster, you need to be able to apply a lot of force into the ground when running, and you have to do it quickly. Both strength and movement mechanics are important, but if you’re not strong, you won’t be able to generate the necessary force. At the same time, if you can’t move properly, you won’t be able to apply the force you’ve got. Wondering how you can improve both?
Performing heavy ground-based lifts for the lower body is essential, as are single-leg exercises to correct structural imbalances that will alter movement patterns. Squats, deadlifts, split squats, and various types of step-ups will help to balance the right and left sides of the body as well as the agonist and antagonist muscles.
You also need to train the body to use that strength, which can be maximized with power training. Plyometrics and Olympic Lifts have been shown to increase running speed, and the snatch is a faster lift than the clean, making it a better measure of speed. Of course, the power clean can help you get strong and fast, making it a great option as well.
For proof that heavy lifts make you faster, read the tip Perform Heavy Full-Range Squats To Get Faster and Quicker
Morin, J., Bourdin, M., et al. Mechanical Determinants of 100 Meter Sprint Running Performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.