Speed Training for Athletes

Athletes need to train for speed by running fast, with long recovery periods and a gradual increase in training volume. Training on the track for sports that require an explosive, quick burst of speed.

The off-season is a perfect time to develop speed in athletes. Athletes can deemphasize event specific skills and focus on speed training that will benefit all sports that require speed and quickness. Speed training can benefit both non-endurance based sports and endurance based sports. 

Here are some great workouts to develop speed that world-class sprinters use to get faster. We cannot guarantee Olympic level speed but we think these methods will help you get faster during the off-season of your sport.

If you are not a sprinter, these workouts mixed in with lower intensity specific skills for your sport can help you be faster and develop your athletic skills.

Warm Up

Every training session begins with a proper warm up ranging from 10- 20 minutes. The focus of the warm up is to raise the body temperature, improve flexibility, and prepare the athlete for the training session.

Speed Training Types

  • Acceleration Training
  • Speed Training
  • Resistance Runs
  • Speed Endurance

Acceleration Training Guidelines

  • 10-30 meters
  • 10-15 repetitions
  • 3-8 minute recovery
  • 250-300 meters total volume

Resistance Run Guidelines

  • 40-60 meters
  • 8-10 repetitions
  • 4-5 minute recovery
  • 300-350 meters total volume

Speed Training Guidelines

  • 40-60 meters
  • 5-10 repetitions
  • 3-8 minute recovery
  • 250-400 meters total volume

Speed Endurance Guidelines

  • 80-150 meters
  • 3-6 repetitions
  • 3-8 minute recovery
  • 250-600 meters total volume

Off Season Speed Planning

A proper training plan should include weight training, plyometric jumps, medicine ball throws and running. 

Acceleration training, speed training, and resistance runs should be trained in conjunction with explosive movements such as weight training, plyometric jumps and medicine ball throws.

The day after high intensity speed training should be a recovery day without explosive movements. After speed endurance training, athletes should have a recovery day with limited activity.

Athletes also need to develop strength, flexibility, coordination and other bio-motor abilities as well as event specific training. High intensity efforts in these activities should be paired with the speed training days. Lower intensity with various volumes can be part of the recovery days, depending on the athlete’s needs and fitness level.

Common methods to develop the other skills needed include weight training, plyometric jumps and medicine ball throws.

Weekly Training Outline and Guidelines

  • Monday: acceleration training (high intensity)
  • Tuesday: recovery/easy day (low intensity)
  • Wednesday: speed training (high intensity)
  • Thursday: endurance/general strength day (low intensity)
  • Friday: resistance running (high intensity)
  • Saturday: speed endurance (medium intensity)
  • Sunday recovery

Speed Training Program

Week 1

Day 1: Acceleration Training

8 x 30 meters – 3-minute recovery

Day 2: Recovery Day

10x100m (70%) 17-20 seconds with walk back recovery

Day 3: Speed Training

5 x 50 meters – 3-minute recovery

Day 4: Endurance Day

Fartlek (45 seconds easy – 15 seconds at 70% intensity) for 15 minutes

Or General Circuit Training (younger athletes and throwers)

Day 5: Resistance Runs

Hills: 10 x 30 meters- 3-minute recovery

Day 6: Speed Endurance Training

6 x 100 meter –50% speed, build up 10% per 20 meters- walk back recovery

Day 7: Recovery Day or Bodyweight Circuits

Week 2

Day 1: Acceleration Training

6 x 20 meters – 4 minute recovery

6 x 30 meters – 3 minute recovery

Day 2: Recovery Day

10x100m (70%) 17-20 seconds with walk back recovery

Day 3: Speed Training

4 x 60 meters – 3-minute recovery

Day 4: Endurance Day

Fartlek (45 seconds easy – 15 seconds at 70% intensity) for 17 minutes

Or General Circuit Training (younger athletes and throwers)

Day 5: Resistance Runs

Hills: 8 x 40 meters – 4-minute recovery

Day 6: Speed Endurance Training

5 x 100 meter 50% speed, build up 10% per 20 meters- walk back recovery

Day 7: Recovery Day or Bodyweight Circuits

Week 3

Day 1: Acceleration Training

10 x 30 meters- 5 minute recovery

Day 2: Recovery Day

8x150m (70%) 30-40 seconds – 3 minute recovery

Or Bodyweight Circuits

Day 3: Speed Training

5 x 50 meters – 3-minute recovery

Day 4: Endurance Day

Fartlek (30 seconds easy – 30 seconds at 75% intensity) for 20 minutes

Or General Circuit Training (younger athletes and throwers)

Day 5: Resistance Runs

Sled Pulls: 10 x 20 meters – 3-minute recovery

Day 6: Speed Endurance Training

12 x 80 meters — 50% speed, build up 10% per 10 meters- walk back recovery

Day 7: Recovery Day or Bodyweight Circuits

Week 4

Day 1: Acceleration Training

4 x 30 meters – 5 minute recovery

4 x 20m – 4 minute recovery

6 x 10m – 3 minute recovery

Day 2: Recovery Day

10x100m (70%) 17-20 seconds – 3 minute recovery

Day 3: Speed Training

6 x 60 meters – 4-minute recovery

Day 4: Endurance Day

Fartlek (30 seconds easy – 30 seconds at 75% intensity) for 20 minutes

Day 5: Resistance Runs

Sled Pulls: 15 x 15 meters – 4-minute recovery

Day 6: Speed Endurance Training

6 x 100 meters — 50% speed, build up 10% per 10 meters- walk back recovery

Day 7: Recovery Day or Bodyweight Circuits

Week 5

Day 1: Acceleration Training

4 x 20 meters – 3 minute recovery

20 x 10 meters – 3-minute recovery

Day 2: Recovery Day

10x150m (70%) 30-35 seconds – 4 minute recovery

Or Bodyweight Circuits

Day 3: Speed Training

Acceleration-sprint-float-sprint (100 meters)

50 meter acceleration to 10 meters sprint at 100%- 30 meter float at 80%-10 meter sprint at 100%

3 x 100 meter – 6 minute recovery

Day 4: Endurance Day

Fartlek (30 seconds easy – 30 seconds at 75% intensity)

Or General Circuit Training (younger athletes and throwers)

Day 5: Resistance Runs

Hills: 5 x 50 meters – 3-minute recovery

Day 6: Speed Endurance Training

8 x 100 meters –50% speed, build up 10% per 10 meters- walk back recovery

Day 7: Recovery Day or Bodyweight Circuits

Week 6

Day 1: Acceleration Training

4 x 30 meters – 3 minute recovery

10x 20 meters- 3 minute recovery

Day 2: Recovery Day

10x200m (70-75%) 35-45 seconds – 5 minute recovery

Or Bodyweight Circuits

Day 3: Speed Training

Acceleration-sprint-float-sprint (100 meters)

50 meter acceleration to 10 meters sprint at 100%- 30 meter float at 80%-10 meter sprint at 100%

4 x 100 meters- 8-minute recovery

Day 4: Endurance Day

Fartlek (30 seconds easy – 15 seconds at 85% intensity)

Or General Circuit Training (younger athletes and throwers)

Day 5: Resistance Runs

Hills: 5 x 50 meters – 3-minute recovery

Day 6: Speed Endurance Training

8 x 100 meters — 50% speed, build up 10% per 10 meters- walk back recovery

Day 7: Recovery Day or Games


Rest and Recovery

Speed workouts with explosive movements need proper recovery if an athlete is overbooked with other activities; the workload should be adjusted.

Along with the other training elements (flexibility, weight training, plyometric jumps and medicine ball throws), the running portion of the off season program can help develop the explosive speed that will carry over to several sports that require anaerobic fitness, such as football, basketball, and volleyball as well as the speed and power events in track and field.