Assisted speed training comes in many shapes and forms, and some methods have been studied more so than others, but each technique carries with it some benefit when implemented appropriately in an athlete’s overall training program. Remember that there isn’t just one specific exercise that is going to make you or your athletes faster, but rather a “collection” of drills strategically programmed over time that creates a potent combination resulting in faster running speed. Too many are still under the false impression and mindset that just one approach, discipline, or training program is going to be the end all be all of training, and that is not true and never will be. When you can finally look at and study the best coaches in the industry, you will see that they implement techniques from a multitude of disciplines, and that is one of the often-overlooked reasons why they are so successful with their athletes.
So when it comes to Assisted Speed Training, you want to make sure to bring your a-game and already possess a solid foundation of lower body strength and reaction time, since these drills will naturally challenge these qualities. Here are four of the most common assisted speed training techniques to date:
#1-Assisted Ladder drills
There is a good chance you may be shouting obscenities at the drill above with all of the general disdain for ladder drills and speed training that is still going around, but consider that the exercise does possess some key characteristics of a successful movement. Most notably, muscle recruitment velocity, rapid reflexes, stutter-step development, improved reactivity, and several more. Are ladder drills going to be the absolute best option for getting faster? Not! But they can supply a small contribution that is better than nothing. And when you combine this little benefit with everything else you should be doing, then you will get an overall better result than if you omitted ladder training altogether.
Here is an excerpt from my book on downhill running which you can find here:
“There was a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning in 2011 that analyzed 27 female Division 1A Soccer players. The test administrators utilized both AST (Assisted Sprint Training), RST (ResistedSprint Training), and TST (Traditional Sprint Training) methods. Researchers found that AST was a handy tool for increasing acceleration levels across short distances. 123 This is an ideal scenario for a majority of athletes. Here is another one from Ebben, 2008. 24 124 It involved 13 male NCAA Division 3 collegiate athletes who competed in various sports. The researcher then had the athletes perform sprints at high efforts across multiple slope degrees. The results showed that any overspeed training on a slope at a degree of greater than 5.8 degrees did not yield faster sprinting. Past research has shown a speed improvement of about 5% once the subjects who performed in the test returned to flat ground running.” And if you are interested in learning more about my book, you can visit here: http://thespeedencyclopedia.com/
The speed in which you will need to move during downhill running is going to be markedly faster, so this should come as no surprise that it works for developing speed. Another thing that stands out about downhill running is the rapid -repositioning effect that occurs from the swing leg as you sprint. Original research from Peter Weyand supported the rate in which the leg swings during a sprint as fixed and unchangeable, but I read recently that this information has changed, and faster sprinters and athletes do in fact swing there legs faster than their slower counterparts. So, this is another reason why assisted sprinting works great in those that are ready for this style of training.
The last two on the list involved resistance bands to perform correctly. The first is an assisted sprint where you apply a specialized band that will pull the athlete forward as they attempt to sprint out of the gate. Here is a video of the exercise:
Lastly, using assistance and increased gravity to a jump can have the same effect as the rest of the aforementioned drills. Here is a video of what we call the bungee jump!
As you can see, the athlete grabs hold of a secured band around the top of a chin-up bar or squat rack and pulls themselves up to their highest point and then rapidly returns down to the ground. The value with this exercise comes when the athlete drops down to the ground. In this case, the tissues will store more elastic energy, and you will generate more of a power reflex, especially at the foot and ankle specifically. Exposure to this type of method could enable faster squat speeds with faster and high vertical takeoffs which every athlete wants! And it’s a fun way to capture your athletes, spice things up, and keep them motivated with some unique training variation.