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I'm trying to do some fairly simple training to get more in shape for a local informal football league, and from what I have read, the 40 yard dash is a good routine to practice to help improve both speed and stamina. With that background, my question is:

  • Is there a "proper" way to train for the 40? Right now I just do some simple warm-up (a few quick sprints), run the dash as many times as I can in a row with a very minimal break (btw 15 and 60 seconds) between each run, and then a cool-down routine. How could I improve this?
  • What other exercises should I work on to improve my stamina? Speed?
  • Are there any particular warm-up routines specific to this exercise?

Thanks!

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2 Answers

Besides plyometric and dragging, I would also work on reaction speed exercises. For example, lay on the ground, wait for a signal, get up and sprint shorter distances. The reason is that your goal is to use the sprint in a team sport context where reaction speed is important.

Typical reaction & sprint drills from basketball (where the distance is related to the lenght of a basketball court) would be:

  • Warm up with various slow jogging and running drills 5-10 minutes
  • 3 to 5 sets of 6-8 reps of 15-15 (run at 70-80%) for 15s, rest 15s.
  • 5 running slow, wait for signal, then max sprint 20-30m
  • 5 standing still, wait for signal, then max sprint 20-30m
  • 5 laying on the back, wait for signal, max sprint
  • 5 Somersaults, wait for signal, max sprint

There is also a chapter in the book The 4 hour body about how to sprint faster that I found interesting. For example, using a walks (walking a fixed distance a little bit faster every day), deadlift (1-2 lifts of a weight close to 1RM once a week) and running starts to develop speed. However, I have not tried it myself but the author is open with the references so it should be possible to check their validity.

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Specifically for speed, plyometric jumps onto something are good (start low and get higher), and doing your 40 yard sprints dragging something like a tire or a weighted sled; that will get your acceleration going.

For stamina, probably intervals. Get a round timer for your phone, that way you can listen to music, and get the timer signal as you run.

Going out on a limb, 40 yard dashing is probably like goldsprinting (500m roller races on fixed bikes), so a good dose of hyper ventilating before would help as you won't have time to breathe much between 0 and 40m!

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