Training for Acceleration

Take a moment, and picture yourself running as fast as you can. How did you get to top speed? Well, at some point you have to start moving! This is the acceleration phase of sprinting. There are two other phases, and these are max velocity and deceleration. At Total Performance, we train these phases individually. This blog post will be discussing the acceleration phase, and how we target the training required to improve acceleration ability. 

Some of you may be thinking, what is the difference between acceleration and max velocity? Why separate the two, when you are trying to be as fast as possible in each phase? Yes, they are similar in some ways, and the goal is to “be fast.” However, what your body does in order to get to max velocity is different than what it does once it has reached max velocity. Some big differences include are the magnitude, and direction of force applied while accelerating. Acceleration has a more horizontal application, while max velocity is more vertical. Also, during acceleration, you spend more time on the ground. This allows you more time to generate more force. Acceleration training should match the requirements of acceleration. 

So, if we are aiming to match the requirements of acceleration in the weight room, things like: the primary direction of the movement, the load of the movement, and the intent of the movement should be manipulated as such. Acceleration requires starting strength, you must get your mass moving forward as fast as possible. If you are weak, your ability to accomplish this is hindered. Max strength training requires heavier loads, and slower movements. Because of the horizontal force direction associated with acceleration, max strength training movements that put the body through a similar pattern should be the primary movements of the session. Roman Deadlifts (RDL), Hip Thrust, Split squat, and Single Leg (SL) Hip Flexion are a few possible exercise selections that I use to train acceleration. The RDL and Hip Thrust both target the hip hinge pattern. The primary action of hip hinge requires hip extension and flexion primarily occurring anteriorly, and posteriorly (forward and backward); here’s your horizontal force application. The Split Squat, and SL Hip Flexion are also movements that improve hip flexion and extension abilities, and they are unilateral (completed on one leg)! During all phases of sprinting, once you start, there is never a point in time in which you have two feet on the ground. So, you cannot rely on the force production of two legs at the same time, you have to rely on one. Neglecting this fact is a poor decision IMO. Finally, the intent of the movement should be to move fast concentrically. The benefits of having the intent to move weight as fast as possible are numerous, and we can discuss them later. Right now, all you need to worry about is “I gotta move this sh** fast” to train the qualities of acceleration. 

Plyometric type, and timing is also a major factors to consider. Plyometrics should check the same boxes of acceleration like direction, and force application. Broad jumps, and single leg bounds are a couple of examples. The timing refers back to the PAP post we had a few weeks ago. I will save that can of worms for another day. 

There are entire textbooks associated with sprinting, and acceleration. These are some basic facts and opinions to consider next time you want to train for speed.


-Thank you for your time! If you have any questions please let us know!

Coach Nate Garcia 


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