Core Exercises to Increase Running Speed
It’s a common belief that most of the muscles required for speed are located in the legs. But this is not entirely true, and endless exercises of the calves and hamstrings will only increase running speed within certain limits. The truth is, most of the important muscle groups that are activated during intense agility drills and bursts of explosive speed are located in the core and hip flexor region. The muscles of the core tend to have a powerful impact on motion, agility and control in every area of the body, even the hands, feet and head. And when it comes to full body control, explosivity, and agility, athletes should never underestimate the power of a serious and effective core training program.
How Core Training Can Increase Running Speed
The core is composed of four crucial muscle groups that anchor the limbs, align the spine, and gather the energy of the body around the center of gravity located just above the hips. These muscle groups include the abs and obliques, the multifidis muscles of the lower back, the diaphragm, the pevic sling, and the hip flexors. Together, these muscle groups form a cylinder around the internal organs of the lower torso, and in the case of the hip flexors, they draw the legs up and out and bring the knees toward the chest.
When these muscles are conditioned and coordinated, agility drills become faster and more effective, and athletes increase running speed, turnaround time, and controlled explosivity. Over time, as these muscles become toned and trained, they begin to involuntarily contract each time the body engages a muscle in any other area. Even during sleep, a single motion will cause the trained core to contract and tighten, aligning the spine and focusing the energy of the body around the center.
While awake, the athlete with a trained core and conditioned hip flexors can increase both running speed and agility, meaning the time shortens between standing still and running at top speed. In the video below, Kbands trainers Trevor and Justin demonstrate how to build core strength and increase running speed using the Kbands and the KB Duo suspension training system.
Using the KB Duo to Increase Running Speed and Agility Drills: Resisted Runners
For the first of these agility drills, the Kbands should be attached to the straps around the upper legs with the long band in the front and the sort band in the back. Once the Kbands are in place, the KB Duo should be attached to an overhead anchor point and adjusted so the straps are hanging just above the floor. The athlete should drop into bridge position, meaning the body is face down and the weight is centered on the knees and the palms of the hands. The feet should then be attached to the loops of the KB Duo so the straps support the weight of the lower body. The spine should be kept straight during this exercise, like a plank.
When in position, the athlete should begin drawing the knees up to the chest as if running in place. This should be done at top speed, and it will be difficult, since the body will need to maintain balance, control and alignment as well as speed and explosivity in the hip flexors. The added resistance of the Kbands will increase the difficulty of the move and the pressure placed on the hamstrings, hip flexors and lower torso.
This running motion should be completed at maximum speed for ten full seconds. Each ten second burst should be followed by a rest period of about 30 seconds.
Agility Drills to Increase Running Speed: Plyometric Push Ups
For the next set of agility drills, the feet should stay in place in the loops of the KB Duo straps, and the body should be extended fully into push up position. The back should stay straight as a board and the weight should be centered between the palms and feet.
The athlete should drop down into a push up and then rise back up with burst of speed strong enough to raise the body off the ground. The athlete should clap once at the height of the push up before dropping back down. This move can be very challenging and will place significant demands on upper body as well as the core, hamstrings and hip flexors. Ordinary plyometric pushups can be difficult, but completing the move with the KB Duo requires additional balance and control as well as strength.
At all times during this exercise, the body should stay straight, the feet should stay together, and the athlete should remain centered and in control. While each push up should be explosive, if control starts to waver, the speed of the set should be slowed down. Athletes should complete a total of six to eight plyometric push-ups per set, and a total of three to four sets per session.
Agility Drills to Increase Running Speed: Final Notes
Agility drills like these don’t require much time, but they’ll be more beneficial and bring faster results if athletes invest every ounce of energy into each move. Completing the resisted runners at top speed and keeping the rest breaks minimal will increase running speed and generate explosive power in the core and hip flexors. Likewise, putting as much energy as possible into each plyometric push up will lift the body further from the ground and demand more from the abs, hip flexors, and back muscles. All of these demands will add up to a measurable increase in running speed and agility.
For more information about the benefits of resistance and suspension training, and for more videos demonstrating optimal use of the Kbands, KB Powerbands, and KB Duo, visit the website at Kbands Training.com. Explore the sections of the site for more information on how to gain strength in targeted areas, increase running speed and agility, and improve performance across a wide range of sports.
Plyometrics Training Equipment