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Speed Training Workouts

There is no substitute for speed. You can be tough, smart, and fundamentally sound, but without speed it'll be pretty hard for you to cover great receivers.

On top of that, many college and professional teams will give more consideration or even sign a player based on his speed (even if his football skill is sub par). 40-yard dash times can make a difference of millions of dollars in pro football.

So your speed training workouts should take a high priority, right next to your cornerback-specific training.

Speed Training Program

Adaptation of Speed & Agility Training

You're speed and agility training program should be periodized and be in sync with your cornerback and weight training so that your whole football training program progresses safely.

If you're training for adaptation in the weight room, with lighter loads, and at the same performing explosive speed and agility drills in your speed training workouts, you're setting yourself up for potential injury.

Speed Workout Progression

Your speed training workouts should safely progress in intensity (how hard you go) and volume (how much you do) over the course of your program.

Below, I've created a chart of a sample football speed training program you can use guide your training.


The Beginning (1-4 weeks)

At the start of your program, your speed training workouts should be geared toward improving your sprinting technique and mechanics along with developing a solid base of strength, flexibility, and anaerobic endurance:

These will ensure you give your body time to adapt before you begin more intensive speed training workouts.

The 20yd bursts are short and mostly work your quads and glutes, and so they don't work you hamstrings as much. This is important because your hammies do much of the work when you sprint at top speed and are more prone to injury.

The bursts, stadiums and stairs, and lower intensity sprints give you time to strengthen your hamstrings while still building speed and speed endurance.

Always end your speed training workouts with a light 1-2 lap jog and static stretching.

Beginning to Middle (4-6 weeks)

After the first 3-4 weeks you can phase out the longer, low intensity sprints and begin to increase your reps of bursts and stadiums.

Because it takes at least 3 months to start developing your form, your technique drills should always be a part of your speed training workouts.

Much of this beginning-to-middle phase coincides with your muscle building phase, which involves a high volume of work, so the volume of your speed training workouts and cornerback-specific workouts should be increasing slowly.

You do not want to overwork yourself. Your training program is a marathon, not a race.

Speed Program Chart

Speed Training Program Speed Endurance
(wk 1-3)
Mon Th Th Sat
Wk Broad Jumps 20yd Bursts 20yd Sled 40yd Burst 40yd Para-chute Stairs/ Stadiums Stairs +Vest Sand Hills Sand Hills +Vest

200m Sprints

1   12       7       (6x100m)@80%
2   14       8       (7x100m)@85%
3   16       9       (8x100m)@90%
4 12 14       8   8    
5 14 16       9   9    
6 16 18       10   10    
7 18 16   4   9   9    
8 20 14   6   10   10    
9 22 12   8   12   12    
10 24 6 4 6   8 2 8 2  
11 24 4 6 8   6 4 6 4  
12 24 2 8 10   4 6 4 6  
13 24   6 8 4 6 4 6 4 3x 100m, 2x150m
14 24   8 6 6 4 6 4 6 3x (150m,100m)
15 24   10 4 8 2 8 2 8 3x 150m, 2x 200
16 22 8 6 6 4 6 4 6 2x 150m, 3x200
17 20   6 8 4 6 4 6 4 6x 150m
18 18   4 10 2 8 2 8 2 6x 100m

Get a Faster 40 and Become a Shutdown Cornerback in 18 Weeks!

If you want to drastically improve your speed, strength and power, perfect your cornerback technique and footwork, lock up more receivers and get more interceptions, sign up for the Shutdown Cornerback Training Program and start making more plays now!

The Middle (6-12 weeks)

This is where you take the training wheels off and add the longer 40-yard bursts to your speed training workouts. You also lower your reps of 20-yard bursts.

Three weeks into this phase, you also start to add a little resistance to your 20-yard bursts, to help you develop an explosive start and acceleration.


Speed Training Tools That Make The Difference

Speed training with resistance adds a new dimension to your training that is very hard, if not impossible, to achieve otherwise.

Building specific strength in the weight-room is good, but with the power sled, weighted vest and shorts, and the speed parachute, you can build that strength at high speeds and through the range of motion in which you actually play.

You cannot get more specific than that.

The Power Sled

The power sled is a great football speed training tool. After building a solid foundation of strength and sprinting mechanics, using the power sled can drastically improve your speed.

The resistance of the sled requires you to push hard out of your starting stance and your first couple of steps in order to get to top speed.

It does this through a sprint-specifc range of motion and helps you developing an explosive start and acceleration.

It can also be used with lateral movement training and as resistance when coming out of your breaks in cornerback drills.

My Experence With the Sled

After months of training, I started to see less progress in my 20-yard burst speed. I had been training with my own body-weight for a while and my body had begun to adapt.

So I decided to get a power sled and add a little resistance to my bursts to see what would happen.

Using the power sled for just three weeks helped me to blast past my plateau and see a drastic improvement in my speed....

...Just in time for a tryout in which I was clocked at 4.35 seconds in the forty. Three weeks earlier, my personal best had been 4.41 seconds (down from 4.47).

The new challenge the sled added to my workouts helped to drop my forty time into the 4.3s.

With an investment of just a bit more than a pair of Jordans, I had skyrocketed my game from good to Great!

You can do the same.

Get your power sled now and start training.

Weighted Vests and Shorts

Weighted speed training in your stairs and stadiums is different method than the sled, but the same basic principles apply: you gain speed by developing strength through a sprinting range of motion.

Along with a proper base of strength and technique, weighted training adds a new challenge that your body has to overcome.

Your body adapts by getting stronger, and therefore faster.

Add resistance to your speed training workouts.

Adding Weight Safely!

When it comes to wearing weighted vests and pants, though, you shouldn't use more than 10% of your own body weight. Just like with power training, you don't want the resistance to cause bad technique or slow execution of the exercise.

On the chart's Stairs/Beach "Vest" columns you can see progressively dark shades of gray. Each shade of gray represents a 2.5% increase in weighted resistance.

So if you weigh 180lbs, with each darker shade of grey (or every two weeks), you add 4.5lbs.

You should initially add the weight to the shorts, because adding all the weight to your upper body can be stressful on your knees. I only prescribe adding weighted vests/shorts to inclined sprints on hills, stairs, and stadiums because there is less impact than flat sprinting and therefore safer on your knees.

I would also suggest that you add resistance to your speed training workouts only after you have peaked out or hit a plateau with your regular training.

This gives you chance to develop speed, strength, and proper sprinting technique. The equipement is then used to blast you past any plateaus that may be holding up your progress.

Using resistance before this may be detrimental to your progress.

Speed Training Parachute

While the power sled helps to increase your start and acceleration, the speed parachute helps to increase your flat top-end speed, without your knees taking punishment from the added weight of the vest and shorts.

After your start phase, your body begins to tilt back to an upright position, in what is called your "drive" phase. During this phase is where your body reaches top speed, and your hamstrings and glutes begin to pull your body through each stride.

If you're wearing a speed parachute, it adds resistance to this pull, which causes your body to adapt by becoming stronger through the range of motion of your drive phase.

It is very hard to duplicate this type of strengthening in the weight room, especially at sprinting speed.

So increase your top speed by adding Speed Resistance Training Parachute to your speed training workouts.

Middle to End (12-15 weeks)

During this phase of your speed training program you begin adding weight and increasing the reps of your weight-resisted exercises.

You'll also hit the track one day a week to increase your speed endurance, running 100m-200m sprints.

The End (15-18 weeks)

During the end of your program, you should start decreasing your speed training volume to make room for an increase in your more cornerback-specific training volume.

Your reps of bursts and stairs should start to taper off.

Stand-Alone Speed Training Program

Remember, this is a guide, meant to fit in with your cornerback and weight training programs, and be specific to the position. Most of these drills are 40 yards or less. You can taylor this guide your to fit your own personal goals and needs.

If you do, however, want a more comprehensive cornerback training program that includes speed training as well as footwork and agility, and strength and power training, here is a great training program to help you reach your speed goals.

Speed Endurance Training

Being able to maintain your speed over longer distances and longer periods of time is also important, especially for returning picks, punts and kicks to the house. That's where speed endurance comes in.

There are two types of speed endurance:

There's speed endurance of short duration, which is keeping a high velocity over a longer distance. An example would be returning a pick back to the house and having to shake a few people along the way.

Then there's speed endurance of long duration, which involves performing at a high speed in each play of the game, throughout the whole game.

For short duration, 5-10 reps of 100-200-m sprints with 3-5min resting periods will do the trick.

For long duration, high speed interval training, like 10-15 reps on hills or stairs, with 45-75s rest is optimal. The distance should be at least 30yards.

These shorter drills with shorter resting periods help you to recover faster after a play and maintain a high velocity throughout the game.

Things to Remember When Training For Speed...

The Improvement Is in the Adaptation

This means that when you start to feel stronger, more control, and less fatigued by drills in your speed training workouts (when your body adapts), you are getting FASTER!

It also means that its time to increase the difficulty of the drills, so that you can adapt even more and become even faster.

Without struggle there is no progress.

Always Focus on Great Technique

Perfect practice makes perfect. When you focus on your sprinting technique, you are cutting wasted movement and increasing your ability to move fast.

So keep these things in mind during your speed training workouts and in about 12-18 weeks you'll be faster than you thought you could be.


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