Training For Speed At Any Age

Reverse Sled Pull: Author Johnny Olsen

Johnny O’s gymnasium in Boca Raton Florida is one of the premier facilities for weekend warriors and people looking to optimize their athlete performance.

Speed is a key measure of athleticism. Being able to run fast is a huge advantage in virtually any land based sport.

Photo of Johnny Olsen and Jonielle Smith Training

Jonielle Smith, one of the members at Johnny O’s gymnasium, knows a thing or two about speed. She was a gold medal winner in last year’s 4 x 100 world championship and will be competing in Japan at the next summer Olympics. 

Jonielle has run a 11.04 100m and also is the 100m NACAC silver medalist. She is quite simply one of the fastest women on the planet.

Here are some top exercises recommended by Johnny and Jonielle to increase speed:

Sled push and pull exercises – one of Joneille’s favorites. This exercise builds solid strength in the glutes, calves, hamstrings, quads, and core.

Sled Training

High-intensity runs involve running shorter distances but at a higher intensity, then you recover and do it again. An example might be to run at a brisk pace for 30 seconds, then jog/walk at a slower pace for 2 minutes. Rest and repeat.

Some other exercises in the gym that will increase speed are power cleans and hang cleans.  These are great exercises for building power in your hips and legs.

Hang Clean

The hang clean requires you to begin with the barbell at the front of your thighs. Stand and hold the barbell with your hands set to just outside the width of your shoulders. Bend your hips and knees so that the barbell rests at your mid-thigh, your arms are straight and your shoulders are over the top of the bar. Explosively extend your hips, knees and ankles to jump, using that force to propel the barbell upward. Shrug your shoulders and continue to pull the bar upward with your arms. The bar should remain close to your torso. Pull your body under the bar and rotate your elbows around the bar to catch it at your shoulders as you drop into a squat. Drop to the lowest point of your squat and then quickly stand up.

Power Clean

The power clean is very similar to the hang clean, except that the bar begins on the floor rather than at the front of your thighs. This requires greater flexion at your hips and knees at the starting position. Stand with your feet positioned under the barbell. Grip the bar with your hands just wider than your shoulders, with your arms straight and your shoulders over the top of the bar. Extend your hips and knees to pull the bar off the floor and propel it upward. When it reaches your knee, explode into a jump and shrug your shoulders. Pull your body under the bar and rotate your elbows under the bar to catch it at your shoulders. Drop into a squat and stand up.


Johnny also recommends plyometrics to increase speed. Plyometric training uses the speed and force of different movements to build muscle power. Plyometrics can include different types of exercises, like pushups, throwing, running, jumping, and kicking.

When incorporating these advanced training strategies, proper form and adequate recovery are crucial. As Johnny emphasizes, “listen to your body and rest when needed. This will make you stronger and faster the next time you attempt these exercises.”


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