Speed rules. No one can argue this. It doesn’t matter whether your sport is football, baseball or lacrosse, you can’t deny the advantage speed can provide over the competition.
Traditionally, speed training has consisted of sprints and plyometrics to not only increase speed but power and agility. While that type of training can help you get faster, it’s not the only way. In fact, relying strictly on repeated bouts of jumping and running can be counterproductive over the long term as increases the chances of overtraining and injuries the more you train.
Another option to consider to complement your training is isometric exercises. Isometric exercise is a type of training where the joint angle and muscle length doesn’t change during the contraction. This often overlooked form of training was proven as effective as plyometrics in increasing muscle output.
To understand why isometrics exercises should be added to a regimen, it helps to understand a little bit about muscle fibers. Your muscles are composed of three main fiber types:
1. Slow Twitch – responsible for muscular strength and endurance
2. Intermediate Twitch – possesses qualities of both slow and fast twitch
3. Fast Twitch – responsible for the speed of muscular contraction
The reason why isometric training works; it effectively trains fast twitch muscle fibers, which in turn increases your speed. During an isometric contraction, which can last 8-10 seconds, the body learns to recruit more of the motor units that control those fast twitch fibers inside that muscle. Not only does your body learn to recruit more motor units but also more efficiently over time.
To take isometric training to an even higher level, integrate resistance bands into each drill, because resistance bands have a unique physical property known as variable elastic potential. This means that the more you stretch the band, the more resistance that is applied. A stretched band creates much more stored acceleration energy than gravity produces. That energy is transferred into the muscles you are training. Another advantage, resistance band, provide an endless number of positions you can place your body in to expose a weakness in your muscles so they can be exercised.