January 2019 - 28

A faster
40-yard dash
Workouts to help coaches build greater speed in their athletes
By Pete Magill, contributing writer
In sports that rely heavily on speed, the difference between
a star and everyone else can be tenths of a second. Accelerate
quickly, you play. Start slow out of the blocks, you ride the
bench.
No test of acceleration is more widely utilized than the
40-yard dash. It's the centerpiece of the NFL Combine.
College scouts rely on it, and coaches at all levels use it to
separate the wheat from the chaff.
If coaches want 40-yard dash times to improve, they
need athletes to train for all three of its phases.
First steps: 1 to 5 yards
The first two to three steps of acceleration rely on
powerful muscle contractions and a big push. Think of
pushing a stalled car: Utilize a forward lean, shortened
stride and minimal time between steps. Here are two
exercises to improve first-steps acceleration:
* Weight sled push: This is the No. 1 acceleration
exercise for first steps. Athletes work the big muscles
that drive acceleration. Have athletes load the sled with
as much weight as they can handle, angle their bodies
up to 45 degrees, and do two sets of 10 to 20 yards.
* Weight room squats: If you don't have a weight sled,
heavy squats in the weight room can do the trick. Use a
weight that allows athletes to complete three to four sets
of five to 10 reps, and limit them to quarter- or halfsquats.
Full squats are not as effective.
Transition phase: 6 to 20 yards
During this phase, the stride lengthens and runners
adopt a more upright posture. The ability to produce
horizontal (forward) force is the main goal. Here are two
exercises to develop that force:
* Hill sprints: Athletes mimic acceleration's forward lean
and build horizontal force capacity as they fight gravity.
Do four to eight reps of eight to 12 seconds at 90 to 95
percent effort.
* Weight sled run: This exercise improves the nervous
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January 2019

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