The inner hip muscles—or iliopsoas—are often neglected but are important to your speed in sprinting. They are the most powerful of the hip flexor group, and their function, in simple terms, is to bring the knee to the chest. Because they are short muscles, the contraction is very fast.
Since their job is to lift the knee, it makes sense that increasing the power in these muscles will make you faster. There a few ways to do this. Hill running is good. Leg Raises with elastic bands are also good. We also have an exercise that involves resistance bands and isometric holds.
One of my favorites, though, are Speed Demons. This is a weighted wide leg crunch with the legs elevated.
When performing Speed Demons, it's important to keep the legs straight, knees locked and the legs nice and wide. If you don't have weight discs, any weight will do, including a bag of sand or a weighted rucksack. Do 3 sets of 10 with 2 minutes recovery. The weight should be heavy enough and positioned so that you feel the strain in your hip muscles, not just your core.
Speed Demon Workout
I coach a team of sprinters, including national and international athletes. They do this routine three times weekly as follows:
- Warm up for 10 minutes skipping rope. I love skipping rope for speed training. The skipping doesn't have to be particularly fast. The aim isn't to increase speed this way. The aim is to improve the stretch shortening cycle and reactive functional strength of the gastrocnemius and tibialis (calf and shin) muscles.
- Speed Demons: 3x10 with 2 minutes recovery
- Glute Ham Raise: 3x10 with 2 minutes recovery (see my article on plyometrics for runners, which covers the Glute Ham Raise.)
- Core workout of your choice. We use the Trey Hardee 2-minute abs.
The whole workout takes about 20-25 minutes and can be squeezed into a busy schedule without affecting other training.
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