BE Speed

Everyone wants to be faster.  To run fast is an empowering thing.

Well, a scientific prerequisite for speed…

Believe in yourself.

Science is important. But if you don’t believe you can be fast or great then psychologically, you’re not implying all the effort you should be. You have to believe. This is true for everything in life, not just speed.

I dont know what your potential is, but I know it’s big and you are nowhere close to it.


So, how to develop speed? There are only 2 ways to do this when you break it down…

#1 – increase the length of your stride

#2 – increase the frequency of your stride

So which one counts more?

Stride frequency – In grade school the kid with the fastest legs (highest stride frequency) was the fastest… Do you remember if it was one of the shorter kids who could move his legs super fast?

And this leads me to our first training truth.

Training truth #1 – Bondarchuk stated that athletes from the age of 6-7 and 12 -14 respond to speed training the best – their systems are plastic and their muscle fibers can be influenced the most during this age. While movements that encourage slow twitch muscle fibers will hinder the ability to develop fast twitch. The nervous system adapts… So the moral of the story, keep your kids out of long distance stuff at these ages if you want them to be fast.

For example, at these ages. I was always sprinting, so my stride frequency was improved greatly. The way you train is the way your muscles and nervous system adapts.

And a 5 mile run sucks for speed.

In fact, if I had 2 12 year olds of equal speed and experience, I could train 1 in speed training and he would beat the other in a 5k if the other kid trained exclusively doing long distance. There are so many benefits to this type of training, and especially for kids.

Stride frequency is most important for training before kids or athletes hit puberty.
At this time the CNS (or central nervous system) is still developing and can be molded like clay. This is the best time to introduce kids to multiple sports – non specialized movement patterns – it is counter productive for kids to do 1 sport, as they do not develop multiple movement patterns and will possibly hinder them later in life.

Examples of things to enrol your kids in:
martial arts
baseball (sprinting)
playing tag with friends – (sprinting)

***Stride frequency cannot be trained after puberty. You are wasting your time after puberty if you are trying to increase it.***

You’ll want to shift your focus to stride length at the high school, college, olympic level or older.

You’ll find at this point too, the fastest individuals are the ones that take the fewest steps.

And practically speaking, the majority of improvement in 10 yard sprint times involves taking fewer steps…

Which are essentially improvements in acceleration, deceleration, and re-acceleration.

With most of your progress lying with acceleration..

The importance of stride length – Usain Bolt takes 3-5 steps less in the 100m that anyone else. 


***Taking less steps is faster.***

2 ways to improve stride length

1. Increase relative strength – the stronger you are in relationship to your body the faster you will be.

For example, if I can split squat 200lbs, I can apply 200lbs of force into the ground when sprinting also known as increasing the horsepower!

***One of the mistakes I see when people are trying to improve their speed is when they start doing a lot of sprinting and plyos and dont have the relative strength. They see a litttle bit of gain initially, but don’t have the joint integrity. A lot of improvement in speed happens in weight room. You are leaving a lot out if you are disregarding weight training.

2. Increase flexibility, mobility and stability
Flexbibility in the hip flexors is huge!!!  If you can’t fully extend your hip how can you apply the most force? (When your hip extends is when the glutes are maximally contracted and you are able to apply the most force to the ground. You are losing power…. You are applying 70 % etc.)

Unfortunately, I see this a lot in runners who come to Bootcamp Effect. Everyone is way too tight, over active hip flexors, glutes turned off…

Functional mobility is defined as the ability to move unrestricted by the stiffness of your joints.

Do you have functional mobility?

Do you have the joint stability to hold your joints in place under stress? Do you have the core stability to hold your hip complex in a neutral spine, so that the glutes can turn on maximally?

Do you have desk job? Are you stiff in the upper back/thoracic spine?

If you are, how do you expect to get max arm swing to aid you in your speed?

Posture is vital – your mom was right.

We need to be able to get into the positions to make us fast (neutral spine) and the strength and joint integrity to hold those positions.

Seem like not a big deal – BUT IT IS THE BIGGEST DEAL.

Training Truth #2 – If you are too weak and immobile to get into these positions, you will never achieve speed potential. If you lack the movement capability and foundational strength then you won’t be able to get faster because of an inability to get in those positions and produce force.

At Bootcamp Effect our primary focus may not be increasing speed. But it is an amazing byproduct of our training programs.

We take the above into account in our dynamic warmups…we think postural mobility vs. mobility at a certain joint.

I’m not talking tight hamstrings. im talking eccentric deadlifts, squat sits…positional mobility.

Improve relative strength + Improve mobility and stability at appropriate positions (ankle, knee, hip, and upper back).


Improve relative strength – to increase stride length, we want to improve our relative strength, so that we can take big powerful strides with the ground.

By training explosive strength and testing how fast you can fire your muscle fibers utilizing exercises such as deadlifts, lunges, squats and sled push.

Improve mobility and stability – work full range of motion in exercises, focusing more on the muscles that you can’t see in the mirror (the posterior chain).

Neglecting to train your glutes?

Why do you pull a hamstring?  Not enough core strength – landing foot in the front – hips not extending, glutes not firing, and the hamstring is working crazy amounts. By focusing on clams, 1 leg hip ext. holds, glute marches and hip extensions, we wake up our glutes so that they begin to fire more!

But at the end of the day, sprinting is a high brain activity – if you have to think too much you won’t run your fastest. Put the work in regularly in the gym with weight training and mobility work and it will transfer on the track, field, or 10k.

Committed to your results,
Josh Saunders
The Bootcamp Effect