Football and soccer players focus a lot on acceleration and improving their first step. Olympic lifts, block starts and three-point starts are common exercises for developing starting speed. But what about the top end speed? The maximal speed reached in a run is difficult to train in a gym with weights, or any kind of resistance for that matter. Other than running downhill or with a strong back wind, the best bet is to simply run as fast as possible for a set distance.
The brutal force used in the acceleration phase has to switch to a more dynamic force that translates to a relaxed sprint. Carrying over the motoric muscle memory from the weight room will help us produce a pumping motion with our legs. This serves a purpose in the initial steps and also explains why olympic lifters are excellent 20 meter runners. But actually rotating the legs rapidly and utilizing the hamstrings to claw the ground is what will produce the max top speed. This has to be trained on the track without a distracting block start. In the following video I show how I perform top speed training in preparation for the indoor season. Very low volume. Maximum effort.
In the above video, I've placed yellow cones to mark a distance of 20m. I emphasized the use of the hamstrings and tried to lift the knees more than usual. I'm trying to get rid of my tendency to pump my knees unnecessarily upwards. It's almost as if all the squat movements in the gym has altered my pattern. Just another reason to go to the track tomorrow again, I guess...
Learn more about speed and strength training by downloading the Outdoor Edition Training Guide.