Top 10 Speed Training Tools That Will Make You Faster and More Agile
The speed training equipment you have at your disposal can be the secret weapon for making you a faster athlete.
By strengthening the muscle groups specifically targeted in speed and agility training, you’re simultaneously improving your mobility, range of motion, and your power output.
This post breaks down exactly what it is that makes you fast, as well as the top tools in speed and agility training that you can add to your own gym bag.
Let’s Talk About Speed
Your ability to accelerate, maintain top speed, and perform lightning-fast changes in direction is what sets you apart from your competition. Targeting your speed, agility, and quickness is what will transform your athleticism.
Getting there all comes down to your training. And the equipment in your gear bag are the tools that help you along the way to a faster version of yourself.
First, let’s cover the basics of running speed and the mechanisms that make you faster. Then we’ll dive into the tools you can use to make it happen.
What Makes You Fast?
How fast you can run is actually a straightforward calculation. There are three parts to the running speed formula:
Running Speed = Stride Length x Stride Frequency
But for such a simple formula, there’s a complex network of muscles that come into play that increase your stride length and how quickly you can make them happen.
When you think of the muscles critical for sprinting, the glutes, quads, and calves might immediately come to mind. But your hamstrings, psoas, core, even optimizing the dorsiflexion of your ankles is just as vital to opening up your running form and maximizing your running speed.
So what you need is a comprehensive approach to training that springs all primary and supporting muscle groups into action.
In this list, we’ll cover how each speed training tool strengthens different muscle groups and optimizes your running mechanics.
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Best Agility and Speed Training Equipment:
- Weighted Sled
- Running Parachute
- Resistance Harness
- Agility Ladder
- Agility Hurdles
- Slide Board
- Weight Vest
- Resistance Bands
- Jump Rope
- Agility Poles
As a bonus, we’ll also include an advanced tool for athletes serious about taking their speed to new levels at the end of this list.
1.) Weighted Sled
There’s a reason why the speed sled is the top tool on the list. The sled push exercise incorporates the entire body for a functional movement that engages the glutes, calves, hamstrings, hip flexors (and psoas), core, chest, shoulders, and triceps.
The weighted sled starts at a standstill, which means you have to generate added power to overcome the initial friction to get it moving. That initial power is the foundation for boosting your acceleration.
What makes the weighted sled a versatile tool is the harness that transforms the device to allow for sled pulls. Sled pulls have nearly an infinite amount of variations to engage the entire chain of muscles required to make you faster. It adds to the benefits that make the weighted sled a staple for speed training.
2.) Running Parachute
The speed parachute works similarly to the weighted sled pull. The significant difference is its advantages the parachute has over longer distances.
The running parachute takes a few steps before the canopy opens to provide drag. This slight delay makes it less practical for training your initial acceleration. But it gives you the advantage of resistance over longer distances while maintaining your natural running mechanics.
It allows you to freely move your entire body to add in the training of the supporting muscles that help power your running speed when used correctly. Because of your ability to use it for longer distances, you get the added benefit of training your endurance and power output over time.
3.) Resistance Harness
If you’re working with a trainer or workout partner, the resistance harness for speed training is a very dynamic tool.
Although it requires an additional person to use, you have the flexibility to add or reduce resistance as needed. Your trainer might want to dial back resistance for some movements and then quickly maximize your explosivity for others.
Because of its versatility, you can incorporate it into a whole new set of training drills, especially the combination of lateral movements followed by boosts of acceleration.
If you don’t have a training partner, using a resistance harness can be challenging. However, if you’re looking for a more elaborate solution that maximizes your speed training without requiring a second person – the VertiMax Raptor is an incredible tool to training speed and agility for nearly every scenario.
4.) Agility Ladder
Agility ladder drills are a foundational tool for athletic development. Combining coordination with speed, agility, and quickness is a formula for success as an athlete.
When you’re doing agility ladder exercises, you’re not only training your ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change directions – you’re also creating the mind-muscle connections that allow you to react and change positions quickly.
You’re also getting massive benefits from strengthening the joints, tendons, and ligaments your body relies on to propel your body. Training your brain to know exactly where to place your feet in any movement creates the excellent addition of injury prevention to speed ladder drills.
5.) Agility Hurdles
Speed hurdles help train your running mechanics and create the brain-body muscle memory to improve your stride and make you fast.
Stride consistency is an essential part of your general athleticism. And you can use agility hurdles to repetitively train your body to maintain proper biomechanics even when you’re fatigued.
Just like agility ladders, speed hurdles are a versatile tool that you can use for improving forward propulsion and generating explosive and skilled lateral movements.
Incorporating drills that improve your consistency in stride and foot placement can create a foundation that transforms your athletic ability.
6.) Slide Board
Slide boards are a powerful tool for strengthening all the muscles required for lateral movement. It’s a device that’s been a staple in goal keeper’s secret bag of tricks for getting an edge in their athletic ability.
But they’re not just for goalies, slide boards are a tool that every athlete can use to provide more powerful lateral movement and additionally strengthen the supporting muscles that make you faster.
Slide boards specifically target hip abduction and adduction, internal and external rotation, as well as hip flexion and extension. All critical components to opening up your stride length and generating more power.
If you think back to the formula at the beginning of this post – those two factors are the equation for speed.
7.) Weight Vest
Weight vests have gotten a bad wrap (pun intended) from athletes who train with them improperly.
When used correctly, weight vests supply you with additional resistance to functional exercises that can improve your speed.
Sometimes bodyweight exercises don’t challenge your muscles enough to develop more explosive running speed. Or just barbell squats in the weight room may not be giving you the freedom you need to move your body in functional movements that include torso rotation.
Having a weight vest that allows you to add, remove, and change the center of gravity can be a simple tool with substantial results to add to your equipment bag.
8.) Resistance Bands
There are endless possibilities for how you can incorporate resistance bands into your speed training, from hip flexor development to first-step explosion and footwork.
Resistance bands also provide you with some of the same applications as resistance harnesses. Used with a training partner, you can incorporate ascending motion restriction, lateral work, and even vertical explosivity.
Keeping a set in your gym bag doesn’t just stop with sprint training. Resistance bands provide an inexpensive way to add versatility to your toolkit. You can use them for warm-ups, upper body training, and even mobility work.
9.) Jump Rope
What may seem like a simple tool, jump ropes provide excellent benefits for sustaining power output in your lower body and endurance in your shoulders and core.
Jump ropes engage nearly every muscle in the body, but most importantly, they provide a low-impact exercise that target the lower body muscles that are essential for producing more speed.
Forget the light and flimsy jump ropes from your childhood. These days you can get your hands on durable jump ropes with smooth ball bearings and built-in counters that sync with your phone.
10.) Agility Poles
Agility poles take the concept of training cones to another level. They improve your agility and quickness by forcing you to perform quick cuts around obstacles in training.
They have an advantage over cones because it combines your agility with the mind-body awareness that’s critical in your athletic positioning.
You can cheat your way around a cone – but you can’t cheat your way through a pole.
Bonus: Curved Manual Treadmill
For athletes serious about investing in their speed development and running mechanics, self-generated curved treadmills are a game-changer.
Curved treadmills allow you to take your natural running mechanics and combine them with powerful resistance that strengthens the entire movement.
Unlike traditional treadmills that feel unstable for speed work, curved treadmills with a slat design are specifically made for high-intensity training.
Take a look at our post on the complete rundown of benefits that curved treadmills provide. If you’ve been looking for a treadmill to add to your home gym but don’t consider yourself a ‘passive runner.’ A curved treadmill may be a better choice for you if you intend to use it for speed and HIIT training.
If you want to simplify creating your speed training kit, here’s a package that incorporates many of the tools discussed in this post.
It may not get you all of the different benefits that each tool uniquely provides. But it will give you an excellent starting point on your journey to get faster and produce more power.
Best of luck on your journey to a faster you! For tips and tools delivered directly to your inbox, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter.
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