Load Early to Maximize Lateral Speed

In typical programming, we want to start using light weights or bodyweight as the maximal intensity. This makes sense in certain aspects of training, especially for strength training.

We can gain great performance in lateral speed development by loading early and reducing load later in the training phase.

When placing a band around an athlete from day one, we allow the athlete to create, relatively speaking, higher forces. Keep in mind; I am not talking about maximal loading like in the weight room. I am talking about placing a load on the athlete that requires them to “push” just a little bit harder early on.

When using resistance from the start, we gain several advantages.

We increase the force output of the legs and hips.

We require the core to be utilized as a greater stabilizer of the pelvis and spine due to the higher force output of the legs and hips.

We slow-down the speeds at which the limbs move to allow for adaptations to take the place of the hip, groin, ankles, and lower leg. This is important because the chance of a muscle strain or tendon sprain reduces due to slower limbs’ speeds and the control that comes with it.

The force application angle, pushing down and away, becomes very distinct.

Over a 6-8 week training period, we can gradually reduce the resistance and increase the speed at which the limbs travel through space and the lateral gait cycle. As this occurs, the CNS adapts to these higher speeds, and the athlete can coordinate these higher speeds much more efficiently.

The trick is to know where you are in a training block or phase of the year. Early off-season or when an athlete has had a long break is a great time to get their body prepared for greater speeds.

Because athletes play sports pretty much all the time- they are getting exposed to rapid limb movement in the lateral gait, so high volume isn’t a concern. The goal is to help them gain strength, power, and stability early to gradually reduce the force and increase the speeds of limb movements later.

Give this a try, and watch your athletes’ lateral speed shine!

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