5 offseason workouts to increase speed and strength

Every player looks to improve speed and quickness, and the offseason is a great time to do so.

“I hear from coaches about speed on almost a daily basis – training requests like ‘I want my kids to shoot down the field and catch guys from behind,’ ‘My kids need to be way faster for this league,’ and ‘Our team needs to learn how to sprint with better form,’ ” Ben Boudro, of at Xceleration Sports in Auburn Hills, Mich., told Stack.com

Many athletes spend hours running sprint after sprint to get faster, but there are more creative ways to increase speed in the weight room and keep workouts fresh and challenging.

Boudro shared five weight room exercises that high school athletes can do to increase speed and overall strength, including a combination of exercises to improve on-field speed.

  • Band knee pulls. Tie an exercise band to any stable point. In the weight room, try a stationary pole. Make sure to pick an exercise band that has the appropriate amount of resistance to create a challenge. Get into a push-up position, put the exercise band around your foot and create some tension on the band. Drive your knee as fast as you can toward your chest – the band will create resistance – then return your leg to the starting position. This exercise will create a full body workout, especially in the hip flexor and core. It also will condition muscles to drive with explosion, increasing power output during sprints.
  • Forward power lunges. With two dumbbells in hand, try a weighted vest to put a spin on the exercise and focus entirely on legs. Start the exercise by slowly completing a back lunge. The same leg that performs the back lunge will quickly drive forward into a forward lunge. If using dumbbells, as the leg drives forward at the same time drive hands up and clean the dumbbells to the shoulders. This exercise will increase strength in the glutes and quads, which will improve explosion off of the line of scrimmage.
  • Heavy sled pushes into a sprint. This exercise can be completed on the field or in the weight room, depending on available equipment. Place an appropriate amount of weight on the sled, and push the sled for 10 yards. Once the 10 yard sled push is complete, shuffle to the side and sprint as fast as possible for 10 more yards. Heavy sled pushes into a sprint increases explosiveness and leg strength. “By driving a heavy sled for a short distance, you send signals from your brain to your muscles that, ‘We need all the muscle we’ve got to push this sled.’ When you go right to a sprint without the weight, your brain still has that signal, and you are ‘tricking’ your muscles to overload.” Boudro told Stack.com.
  • Band overhead pull-downs with a knee drive. Pick an exercise band that has the appropriate amount of resistance to create a challenge, then tie the band to something stationary and overhead. Hold onto the band with one hand, drive your elbow back as fast as possible while simultaneously driving the opposite knee up, just like running form. Repeat the exercise for 10 to 20 seconds then switch hands and knees. This will improve running form by conditioning the correct arm and leg to move simultaneously, increasing the elbow and knee drive, this exercise also increases acceleration.
  • Weighted rear-foot-elevated split squat jumps. Use dumbbells or a weighted vest to focus on increasing leg strength. Find an open bench and place one foot on the bench with the top of the foot flat on the bench. Get into proper lunge position, making sure that the knee is in a straight line over your foot. Drive down into a lunge position then explode straight up, jumping as high as you can while landing softly by controlling the negative. Work the same leg for a pre-determined amount of reps, then switch legs and repeat. This exercise will strengthen the lower body and increase force production in the legs. This teaches the legs to drive a huge force in a small amount of time, increasing speed.

Read the original article from USA Football by Sara Perez