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July 2012

Train Clients Like Olympic Pros: Three Drills to Increase Speed

Every four years, professional athletes from around the globe meet to test their strength, skills and speed at the Summer Olympic Games. Telecasts of everything from gymnastics to swimming draw the attention of millions around the globe, including clients you train one-on-one or in small groups.

Use the Olympics to inspire your clients to train like competitors instead of just watching them on TV. Whether you’re working with competitive runners, athletes who want to improve their speed or healthy clients training for their first athletic events, incorporating the following drills can help them boost their quickness.

Performance training, which encompasses Phase 4 of the Functional Movement & Resistance Training component of the ACE Integrated Fitness Training® (ACE IFT®) Model, is aimed at improving speed, agility, quickness, reactivity and power.

Set up four cones in a T-shape with three across the top and one cone for the base of the T. Begin at the base of the T in an athletic stance: right foot back, left foot forward. The left arm should be back and the right arm forward. Explode forward, running to the center cone, maintaining an athletic ready position with the body low to the ground; push off the right foot and, while keeping the feet parallel, shuffle to the left cone. At the left cone, drive the left foot into the ground and pick up the right foot to laterally shuffle back to the right, past the center cone and all the way to the right cone. Once there, drive the right foot into the ground and pick up the left foot to laterally shuffle back to the center cone. At the center cone, drop back into the athletic ready position with the hips flexed and spine straight and tall, and push the legs forward to move backward in a backpedaling motion to return to the original starting cone.

Place a series of cones 18” to 24” apart in a straight line on a non-slip surface. Stand 3” to 6” to the left of the first cone with feet hip-width apart or closer, arms by the sides. Shift the hips back and down, creating a hinge-like movement at the knees. Start in an athletic “ready” position, bending forward at the hips with the head facing forward. Explode up and over the first cone, fully extending the hips, knees and ankles. While jumping into the air, keep the feet level with each other and parallel to the floor. Land softly and quietly on the mid-foot, rolling into the heels. With only a brief pause at the bottom of the downward phase, explode up through the lower body, over the top of the second cone. Continue this sequence until all cones have been cleared.

Stand facing the ladder with the feet hip-width apart. In a running-type movement, explode off the left leg, straightening the knee and hip and driving up through the toes, while picking up the right leg to step into the next square. When coming off the left leg, the right knee is explosively driving straight up, and when the right knee is raised, the left arm should be forward and the right arm back. Plant the right foot in the next square forward, then explode off the right foot, straightening the knee and hip and driving up through the toes. Drive the left knee up toward the chest, keeping the torso tall and straight and the arms driving forward and back to help maintain forward momentum. Continue running through the ladder in this manner, placing one foot in each square and emphasizing explosive leg action to rapidly drive up through the ankles, knees and hips through every push off and move forward.

As your clients become more comfortable and familiar with these drills, increase the intensity by performing them as a circuit, with multiple repetitions and sets.

Learn more about sports conditioning and specific drills you can use to improve your client’s speed, agility and quickness at our ACE Sports Conditioning Workshop, scheduled in five cities across the U.S. on July 21, 2012, and one city on August 2, 2012. In this one-day, 8.5-hour workshop, you’ll learn about the skill-related parameters of fitness and how to tailor drills to specific population groups. For more, visit

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