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FITNESS Training for speed 5

Speed during training

Stronger, faster, better– strength training for speed development

Personal Trainer
Paul O'Brien

Strength and speed are like two peas in a pod when it comes to team sports. An old coach of mine used to constantly remind us that ultimate speed in sports is impossible without the complimentary muscular strength to achieve it. Imagine a sports car, say a Ferrari, with a 1.0 litre Ford fiesta engine. It may look the part on the outside (speed) but without the necessary engine (muscle), it won’t live up to its promise!
When training strength for speed development, it’s important to keep the principles of your speed training in mind. Specifically, speed is trained in multi-directional planes of motion (forwards, backwards, sideways etc). So any strength training done to further develop and enhance speed should also be multi-directional focused. Stationary weight training, such as that done on fixed range-of-motion (ROM) machines in gyms, will improve strength. However, it will not train your body to apply this strength for multi-directional speed. Simply put, train as you move on the pitch.
The following short routine provides a good example. The exercises should be performed in a circuit format, with minimal rest between exercises. The only equipment needed is a set of dumbbells with inter-changeable weight plates. Perform six repetitions of each exercise in the circuit (three each side for single limb exercises). Rest for two to four minutes between circuits. Begin by performing 3 full circuits, working up to 6.  The weight chosen should be roughly 70-75 per cent of your maximum capacity. A good way to gauge this is to experiment until you find a weight that leaves you struggling to complete the last 2 reps of each exercise.

Turkish Get-up

  • Stand holding a dumbbell above your head with your right hand.
  • Lower yourself to the floor until you can touch your left shoulder on the floor.
  • Return to standing, keeping the dumbbell above your head with a straight arm at all times.

Lateral lunges

  • Hold a dumbbell against your chest in standing, with both feet facing forward.
  • Step out with your left leg about twice shoulder width apart, keeping the left foot facing forwards.
  • Lower your bum towards the floor, by bending the left knee over your left toes keeping your back upright and your left foot flat on the floor.
  • Push off your left leg to return to the start and repeat on the other side.

Half moons
  • Hold a dumbbell with both hands in standing.
  • Reach down with the dumbbell until it touches the floor outside of your right foot.
  • Lift it up with straight arms over your head and touch the floor outside your left foot.
  • Take care to bend your legs as you reach towards the floor.

Reaching lunge

  • Hold a dumbbell with both hands in standing
  • Step forwards into a lunge position with your right leg and lower the dumbbell until it touches the floor in front of your right foot.
  • Keep both legs bent as you lunge, taking care to keep the front knee in line with your big toe.
  • Return to standing and repeat on the other side.

To increase the intensity of the routine, skip for two to thee minutes between circuits before continuing. Always warm-up and cool down with five minutes of light jogging and body-weight exercises – push-ups, lunges etc. After cool-down, stretch all muscle groups used in the circuit, doing each stretch twice and holding for 20 seconds each time.

Paul O’Brien
is a Personal Trainer and Life Coach and runs his own fitness and coaching business in Westport. He is the founder of Bootcamp West, an innovative and exciting fitness programme running in Westport, Castlebar and Louisburgh. For information about fitness training, coaching, bootcamp programs and new TRX classes, email Paul at or call 086 1674515.