How to Get Faster With Resisted Sprint Variations

Resistance sprinting can force your body to recruit more muscle fibers to improve sports performance.

Resisted sprints are used pretty extensively by strength and conditioning coaches to improve the first-step explosiveness, acceleration and maximum velocity of their athletes. The idea is to make sprinting more difficult to force your body to recruit more muscle fibers quickly. All this can carry over to sports performance.

When doing resisted sprinting, it is very important to make sure you maintain good technique. It's easy to think that more is better, use too much weight, and have your technique so disrupted that you learn bad habits. So, there are a few important guidelines for resisted sprinting:

  • Keep the distance to less than 40 meters.
  • Keep the volume low, no more than five of these sprints in a workout.
  • Make sure you recover completely between each resisted sprint.
  • Practice sprinting without resistance after, helps you apply what you've learned.

You can purchase a lot of expensive equipment to do resisted sprinting, but it does not take a lot of equipment to get the benefits from it. This can be done with almost no equipment! What follows are three drills that you can use in your speed program to help you learn to run faster.

Uphill Sprinting

A hill makes sprinting more difficult. This is an inexpensive and effective way to overload the sprinting motion. The challenge is finding the right kind of hill. With uphill sprinting you want to find a hill that has an incline of about 3 degrees. A hill that is too steep will disrupt sprinting mechanics and possibly lead to bad habits, which could actually slow you down.

With uphill sprinting, the distance of the sprint is a 5- to 10-meter run up plus the hill. This is usually repeated 3-5 times provided that your form is sound. If your form is breaking down, it's time to stop the exercise!

Partner Resistance

Sometimes the most effective resistance you can use is another person, especially when working on first-step explosiveness or short sprints (around 5 meters). To perform this drill, line up behind the starting line facing the course. Have a partner line up in front of you, facing you. Your partner should place their hands on your shoulders, straighten their arms and lean forward slightly. As you attempt to run forward, they are going to walk backwards, trying to slow you down.

With partner resistance, the distance of the sprint is no more than 5 meters. This is not an effective drill for longer distances because as you build up greater velocities your partner is not going to be able to do an effective job. Having said that, this is a great drill for shorter distances. This drill should be repeated three to five times.

Towel Sprinting

This is another partner drill, but this one allows you to run for longer distances. With this drill, you need a beach towel. Have your partner stand behind you. Place the towel around your midsection so that your partner can grab both ends of the towel. Sprint for the desired distance. As you sprint, your partner will be walking behind you.

This drill can be done for distances of up to 40 meters. With this drill, it is important to avoid leaning forward. There must be an intentional effort to stay tall during partner sprinting. This drill is also normally done for three to five times.

Now that we've gone over some of the benefits of resisted sprinting, some programming guidelines, and sample drills, what follows is a sample program showing you how to use everything.

Day one: First step explosiveness and acceleration focus

  • Warm-Up: 10-15 minutes of mobility and technique work
  • Bounds: 3-5x10 meters
  • Partner Resistance: 3-5x5 meters
  • Standing Sprints: 3-5x10 meters

Day two: Maximum velocity focus

  • Warm-Up: 10-15 minutes of mobility and technique work
  • Bounds: 3-5x40 meters
  • Towel Sprinting: 3-5x40 meters
  • Standing Sprints: 3-5x60 meters

Day three: Speed-endurance focus

  • Warm-Up: 10-15 minutes of mobility and technique work
  • Lunge/Inchworm Superset: 3x100 meters
  • Uphill Sprinting: 3-5x 10 meter run-up + hill
  • Standing Sprints: 2x300 meters, full recovery between