Pre Season Training Program To Be The Fastest Person On Your Team

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Pre Season Training Program to Make You Insanely Fast

pre season training

So you want to run faster huh? You want to be able to have lightning fast acceleration so you can burn past defenders and take that shot right? You want to be able to run up and down the field or court with speed and agility? Well if that’s the case then this pre season training article is for you. I will highlight a few of my favorite strength & track workouts and even give you a training plan to help get you started.

Trust me when I say that I have been in your shoes. You probably want to play college sports at a D3, D2, or D1 level and you need to stay in shape during the off season. If you’re reading this article, then that shows that you are already seriously considering getting off the couch and onto the field in preparation for your pre season training. I commend you and want to remind you that your performance on the field is determined by your performance when nobody is watching. It is critical that you stay motivated because getting faster and stronger is often a you vs. you sport.

You don’t get a trophy for setting a PR, nor do you get commended for working hard. You have to have a burning desire to get better everyday and treat each workout individually and simply bust your ass. Your friend, parents, and relatives won’t understand and might even try to tell you otherwise. They might try to persuade you to skip workouts and such but you have to remain focused. Nobody will understand except you.

I’m not trying to scare you or de-motivate you but trying to give you the reality of what it takes to perform at the highest level. You might try to convince your buddy to do one of these workouts with you but I guarantee that most of the time you will be doing these by yourself. Most people don’t really want to work hard and step out of their comfort zones. You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.


A huge part of becoming a faster and more explosive runner is becoming stronger. While there are plenty of skinny guys that can run fast and have insane agility, the second you put a body on them, you can easily knock them off the ball regardless of what sport you are playing. This includes both upper body and lower body strength. Sprinting and acceleration involves a lot of core, back, and upper body muscles. Driving out of the sprint requires a lot of quad, hamstring and glute activation. That’s why elite sprinters and football players have ridiculous size legs and huge asses lol.

To start, we recommend that you work towards a goal of being able to squat 2x your bodyweight. If you have never squatted before or rarely train legs, then this might seem unreasonable but once you get going on a routine then I bet you can reach this within a few months time. Be sure to read How to Squat Correctly.

Contrary to belief, weight lifting and running done correctly have a synergistic effect

Don’t let the coach of your sports team tell you to not lift heavy weights. As long as you have good form and listen to your body, then you SHOULD be lifting heavy. Starting this program, we recommend that you squat 2x per week. One squat workout should be a heavy day and the other squat workout should be an explosive day. For athletic purposes, we recommend that you do not use a lifting belt unless you are maxing out. We see too many people wearing belts for warm-ups and while to each their own, we don’t believe this is optimal in order to become a better athlete. Why? Well because a huge component of sprinting and agility is lower back strength and using a belt unnecessarily doesn’t develop your lower back muscles. In fact, we even recommend that you also incorporate hyper extensions into your workouts a couple times a week to help develop your lower back.


Our Pre Season Training Program Includes 2x Squat Days and 2 Hard Running Days Per Week


1st Squat Day of The Week – Heavy Squat Day

Always be sure to warm up with just the bar regardless of how much you squat. This can help you gauge how your feeling that particular day. The last thing we need is to get injured so make sure you do a thorough warm-up including bands and a foam roller as well. Your heavy squat day should work up to a 1 rep that is 90% maximum effort. We are not competitive powerlifters nor are we bodybuilders. Here is a sample of how your heavy squat day workout should go if your max is 315 lbs.

  • 12-15 reps with just the bar
  • 10-12 reps with 95 lbs
  • 8-10 reps with 135 lbs
  • 6-8 reps with 185 lbs
  • 4-6 reps with 225 lbs
  • 2-3 reps with 275 lbs
  • 1-2 reps with 315 lbs

As you can see in total we do about 6 sets which is a decent amount of volume but not excessive because remember we are squatting twice a week plus our sprinting workouts.


2nd Squat Day of The Week – Explosive Squat Day

On our explosive squat day, we are going to focus on hamstring and glute activation which will help us develop crazy fast acceleration. Some techniques we will use on our explosive squat day are box squats, pause reps, and negative reps. For box squats, we recommend using a box that is at least 1 foot high and no more than 2 feet high. Most commercial gyms have them available and if they don’t, switch gyms lol. In order to perform a box squat, you perform a regular squat except you sit at the bottom of the squat or while you are “in the hole.” After pausing for about a second, you explode back up driving through your heels to activate your glutes and hamstrings. Box squats are a great exercise to develop explosiveness because it removes all the momentum that people use during a ordinary squat and helps you go from 0 mph to top speed in the least amount of time. You might be just as fast as someone, but the one that gets to the ball quicker is the one that wins every time so acceleration is a must no matter what your sport is. Make sure that you start box squatting with lighter weight and get good technique down. My biggest advice is to make sure you keep your back tight even when you are sitting. DO NOT let your back round when you are in the hole. This will lead to injuries and setback which we want to avoid at all costs.

Pause squats are similar to regular squats however you pause while you are in the hole for about 1-2 seconds. We don’t recommend holding it for much longer than that as it puts a lot of unnecessary strain on your lower back. Negative reps do not have a pause at the bottom however you focus on exploding up by slowly squatting down into the hole using a 3 second count and the exploding up in a controlled manner (1-2 seconds).


1st Running Workout of The Week – Track Workout

Now onto the track workouts. If you have never ran at a track before then see the diagram below to get an understanding of how long a track is. Most likely you will be on a 400 meter track so if you are running a 200 meters then it’s half the total distance of the track.

Before we start make sure that you have either a stopwatch or a fitness watch so you can keep track of your pace and times. Along with squatting 2x a week, you will also be doing running workouts 2x a week. Make sure you have a good pair of running shoes and if you are on a budget be sure to check out our list of best inexpensive running shoes. Our first running workout will be a speed day where we will focus on getting faster as well as being able to maintain our speed. Keep in mind that there are 4 variables you can change in regards to running. This includes

  1. Changing Pace (e.g. running faster, slower)
  2. Changing Rest Time (e.g. decreasing rest time to increase endurance or increasing rest time to increase performance)
  3. Changing Distance (e.g. 200 meters vs 400 meters)
  4. Changing sets (e.g. how many times you perform each run)

I will highlight a few of my favorite speed workouts and you should mix and match which ones you do. I have given them all names respectively and they are

  • Repeat 2’s
    • The repeat 2’s workout consists of sprinting 200 meters for 4 sets and aiming to hit the same time each time. If you are an experienced runner, 4 sets may seem like nothing. What want to stress is that each set should be at about 90-95% of your top speed so you should be breathless after each set. If done correctly, 4 sets is optimal. What i mean by optimal is that you are pushing yourself pretty hard but not overboard so that you risk getting hurt.
    • A sample repeat 2’s workout might consist of a couple warm-up sets of cut down 2’s with the first one being 36 seconds and the next one being 34 seconds and then your 4 working sets at 30 seconds (15 seconds per 100 meters). Be sure to cool down with a couple laps afterwards.
  • Crazy 2’s
    • Crazy 2’s workout is a favorite of mine and consists of running 200 meters at about 60-70% max effort and then jogging 200 meters back to the starting line at about 2x the length it took you to run the first 200 meters.
    • A sample Crazy 2’s workout might consist of running 200 meters in about 40 seconds and then jogging back to the starting line within 90 seconds before going again. When does the workout end? When you are no longer able to run 200 meters in 40 seconds. Ideally this is after about 8-10 sets.
  • Jog Corners & Spring Straights
    • This workout helps develop our speed endurance as. You simply sprint each straight at about 90-95% and then walk the turns. After about 4-5 of these you will really start feeling them. Ideally you should be hitting the same time each time e.g. 15 seconds every sprint. Aim for about 8-10 sets total.
  • Relay 4’s
    • I have a love hate relationship with this track workout and after you try it out, you’ll know why. You run 400 meters at about 60-70% max effort and then you rest the same amount of time it took you to ran it.
    • A sample relay 4’s workout might be run 400 meters in 90 seconds and then rest for 90 seconds. Aim for 8-10 sets total. After the first couple, it won’t seem bad but by the time you hit the halfway mark you will start to feel it. While we aren’t necesarily speed training in this workout, we are focusing on our speed endurance which is key if you are an athletes. You might be able to sprint up the field or the court but if you are unable to get back to play defense, then you will leave your team vulnerable.
  • Cut down 3’s
    • Cut down 3’s is another favorite of mine that involves decreasing the time it takes to complete each set for 4 sets total, then repeating it. So you might run the first one in 54 seconds (18 seconds each 100), the second one in 51 seconds (17 seconds each 100), the third one in 48 seconds (16 seconds each 100), and the last one in 45 seconds (15 seconds each 100). If you are still feeling alright then you can either pyramid back up 45-48-51-54 or you can repeat the 4 sets the same way you did them the first time 54-51-48-45. This is definitely one of the tougher workouts.
  • Nifty 50’s

This is strictly an all out sprint with a focus on the driving phase and acceleration out of the hole. Aim for anywhere between 6-7 seconds and remember that the driving phase should consist of short powerful strides with your head down.running workouts


2nd Running Workout – YoYo Intermittent Recovery Test

The 2nd running workout of the week will be an agility day where we focus on fast turns and acceleration. We will be doing either the infamous beep test or the yoyo intermittent recovery test. I personally prefer the yoyo intermittent recovery test and you can find the audio to perform it here. I like using a bluetooth speaker to play the audio so I don’t have to run with my phone in my hands lol. Looking at the diagram below you see that you set up cones at 20 meters in front of you and 5 meters behind you. I recommend doing the yoyo test on a field with cleats (football, soccer, etc). 20 meters is equal to about 21.9 yards to mark the cones accordingly and don’t cheat yourself by putting it at the 20 yard line lol. yoyo intermittent recovery test

To perform the yoyo test you run 20 meters before you hear the first beep and then run back 20 meters before the seconds beep. You then have 10 seconds to walk around the cone setup up 5 meters behind you. This is your rest period. The yoyo test is great because it focused on change of pace and it is what a lot of Division 1 colleges use during pre-season. You perform 8 repetitions at each level and then each proceeding level gets faster. Aim to each level 16-17 on your first try and then each week try to improve by 1-2 reps.


Pre Season Training Schedule

Incorporating our strength training and speed training, a typical training week might look like this. Keep in mind that you should ideally start 10-12 weeks out but the earlier the better. You will only be stronger and faster than everyone else.

  • Monday: Heavy Squat Workout-5 sets total increasing the weight as you decrease the reps
    • 1st set: 10 reps at 125
    • 2nd set: 8 reps at 185
    • 3rd set: 6 reps at 225
    • 4th set: 4 reps at 285
    • 5th set: 2 reps at 315
  • Tuesday: Active recovery run & upper body strength training
    • I recommend either a 2-4 mile run with pace or hitting the stationary bike.
      • Upper body workout
        • 5-6 sets of pull-ups as many as you can do
        • 5-6 sets of push-ups as many as you can do
        • 5-6 bench press 80-90% max effort -> How To Bench Press Correctly
        • 5-6 sets dumbbell or barbell shoulder press 10-12 reps
        • 4-5 sets tricep extension 12-15 reps
        • 4-5 sets bicep curls 12-15 reps
        • 3-4 hyperextension
        • 6 minutes abs
          • 1 minute each of sitting ab twists with a 10-25 lb plate, lie down and kick your feet out and then up, right side crunches, left side crunches, right side planks, left side planks, and then finish with holding your feet 6 inches off the ground.
  • Wednesday: Repeat 200 meters
    • Sprint 200 meters in 30 seconds. Repeat for 4-6 sets. Take as much time in between sets to ensure you can hit the same time the following set.
  • Thursday: Explosive squat workout
    • Perform 5-6 sets of box squats with 225 lbs for 5-6 reps. Focus on exploding out of the hole. Finish the workout with either walking or stationary lunges.
  • Friday: Active recovery day and upper body strength training
    • Go for 2-4 mile run or hit some hills with pace.
      • Upper body workout
      • 5-6 sets of pull-ups as many as you can do
      • 5-6 sets of push-ups as many as you can do
      • 5-6 bench press 80-90% max effort
      • 5-6 sets dumbbell or barbell shoulder press 10-12 reps
      • 4-5 sets tricep extension 12-15 reps
      • 4-5 sets bicep curls 12-15 reps
      • 3-4 sets hyperextension
      • 6 minute abs
  • Saturday: YOYO Test
    • Perform the yoyo test on a football field. Aim to hit level 16-17 on your first go and each week try to perform 1-2 more reps. A long term goal should be to get to level 19+. This is the standard for a lot of D1 schools.
  • Sunday: Rest Day
    • Take this day to stretch and ice bath if needed. Get ready for the following week ahead.

What are some of your favorite strength workouts or track workouts to help build speed for pre season training? Let us know in the comments below. Looking to get in touch? Reach out to me via email kwalsh22@binghamton.edu


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