Three Unconventional Tips for Increasing Your Top Speed

by | May 8, 2014, 4:45am 5

Trying to get faster? Who isn’t? Developing strength and power that lead to significant increases in speed and acceleration takes several months at least. Fortunately, increasing hip range of motion and core strength– things that also lead to increases in speed– only takes a few weeks.

Incorporate these three exercises into your routine. With fifteen minutes per day, and you can expect to feel a difference in about four weeks. Just in time to get ready for club season!

1. Psoas stretch

If you sit down for many of your waking hours, your hip flexors (psoas) may become shortened. This can lead to shortened stride length, forward tilt of the hips, and hamstring trouble if left unchecked.

Take 6 minutes per day three times a week to try this deep psoas stretch.

As your hips move more freely, your stride length will automatically increase. You may also notice some relief from lower back pain or hamstring tightness.

2. Glute Activation

Stretching the psoas removes resistance to full hip extension. Activating the upper glutes enables full hip extension.

The Cook hip lift is a great glute strengthening exercise. Keeping the non-working leg tight to the chest restricts lower back extension. Because lower back extension is a compensation pattern for non-optimal hip extension, it is important to learn to feel the difference.

Add this exercise to your pre-workout warm-up 2-3 days per week for the next four weeks.

Start with five reps on each leg and add two each week. Hold the top position for five seconds. Do three sets on each leg.

To perform the hip lift, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on flat on the ground.  Bring one leg up to your chest and hold it there.  The purpose of holding your leg is to prevent you from arching your back, forcing you to use your glutes.  Now lift your hips up with the leg that remains on the ground. Focus on squeezing your butt. The first time you try this you may be surprised to find that you can only move your hips only 2-3 inches off the ground.  That’s normal until your glutes learn to fire properly.  Hold this position for five counts and return your hips to the floor.

3. Core and Hip Stability

Every time your foot hits the ground, you want the force you put into the ground to translate into forward motion. The more stability you have in your core, the more efficient the transfer of momentum. However, if your core is weak you will be leaking energy with every step.  Over the course of a two day tournament, this cummulative effect will make a large difference in how tired you are and how fast you can move late in the day on Sunday.

Watch the two videos at the end of this article from Active Spine and Sport. The videos show clear examples of what a lack of core and hip stability look like in motion. The videos also specifically show some of the core and hip muscles involved.

These three exercises will target several of the muscles important in core and hip stability while sprinting.

1. Backward lunge to SLDL.

Focus on fluidity of movement. The hip of the leg on the ground should not jut out to the side, but should stay in line with the shoulders and ankles.

2. Hip Hikes

Stand on a step. Drop and elevate the hip while keeping your torso upright.

3. Dead Bug

Focus on maintaining a neutral spine. The space between your low back and the floor should remain unchanged as you slowly move your legs.

Try this three exercise circuit twice a week over the next month to feel more solid in your sprinting form on the field.

1. Backward lunge to SLDL (start with 6-8 reps each leg, add 2 each week)

2. Hip hikes (8-10 reps each leg, add 2 each week)

3. Dead Bugs (8-10 reps each leg, add 2 each week)

Do all exercises with no rest in between. Repeat the circuit three times.

Four Week Challenge!

Just fifteen minutes a day for the next four weeks. Here is your schedule:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Psoas Stretch and Cook Hip lift

Tuesday Thursday: Core Circuit

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  • dan

    more stuff like this please and thanks

  • Great stuff Melissa!

  • Amanda

    Great exercises Melissa! I give these exercises to my ultimate patients all the time! For the hip flexor, here is a great video for mobility and something players can do at the field prior to playing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQhrAW9m2rM Cheers, Amanda

  • Jeff

    Thanks, Melissa! Great stuff.
    To avoid some of the tightness issues from sitting all day I recommend trying something a standing desk or treadmill desk and mixing up standing, walking, and sitting. These treadmill desks are used by quite a few ultimate players I know :) http://www.rebeldesk.com

  • Asymmetrical Athlete

    Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for the article! In the backward lunge to SLDL part, you say: "The hip of the leg on the ground should not jut out to the side, but should stay in line with the shoulders and ankles." Two questions: (i) what does that indicate? and (ii) how can it be fixed?

    I've noticed over the last month or so that when I do unilateral exercises on my right side (I'm a right-handed handler), this invariably happens. Even just standing on one leg, there's a big difference between my left side, which is relatively straight, and my right, which "juts out" to the side so much that it looks diagonal!

    I'm worried that this can be quite detrimental if I don't do the relevant fixes, so would appreciate any help you can offer!