Carl Lewis ran 9.92 seconds at the Seoul Olympics for a new American record in the 100 meters. Lewis won the gold medal after Ben Johnson tested positive for steroids. Lewis stated that he had run as fast as he could, but this wasn’t true. Lewis made four critical errors and probably could have run as fast as 9.87 seconds that day. First, he turned his head three times to look at Johnson—that’s three errors. Because he turned his head, Lewis was unable to be as fluid as he could have been. His fourth error was letting up 2 or 3 yards (2-3 meters) before the finish line.
The point of this story is that paying attention to the details is essential to improving your speed, even with elite athletes such as Carl Lewis. With that lesson, here are 10 guaranteed ways to improve your speed:
1. Sprint train twice per week, minimum.
2. Run 10 sprints, varying from 10 to 50 yards (9-46 meters).
3. Time your sprints twice per month (record and chart all times).
4. Sprint all year round. In bad weather, run the 20-yard (18-meter) dash for time indoors.
5. Use video analysis. It can be extremely valuable!
6. Perform flexibility training six times per week (see chapter 14). To improve speed, you must stretch correctly.
7. Perform plyometrics twice per week, minimum.
8. Parallel squat. If you squat but don’t go parallel, you will not improve speed maximally. You must squat to parallel, no exceptions!
9. Perform the straight-leg deadlift to strengthen and stretch the glutes and hamstrings at the same time.
10. Practice power cleans to develop an explosive start.
This is an excerpt from Bigger Faster Stronger, Second Edition.