Q: Alex, Iʼm 13 years old and donʼt have access to a gym or trainer. Is there anything I can do at home to improve my speed, power, and arm strength?
Andrew, my answer is YES, you can definitely improve your strength, speed, and power with NO special equipment. In your case being a younger athlete, building a solid foundation will pay HUGE dividends in improving your strength, speed, and power. Hereʼs some foundational exercises you can start doing immediately at your home.
1. Sprint Start Variations (Push-Up Start, Falling Start, Mountain Climber Start) – Go to your back yard or a nearby park, measure off 10 to 15 yards and perform these sprint variations. These sprint starts are great for improving sprint mechanics, stride length, and will yield tremendous improvements in your speed and lower body strength.
Beginner: All Variations
Advanced: All Variations
As an added note: When training for speed it becomes crucial that rest periods are adequate. As a general guideline take 45 sec break for sprint distances of 10 yards. For every 5 yards added (15, 20, 30 etc.) add an additional 45 sec recovery. Ex: If you ran a 20 Yard sprint you should take at least 2 plus minutes to recover.
Push – Up Acceleration Sprint Start
2. Plank Variations – Planks are an easy and effective exercise to perform just about anywhere to improve core strength. Start with holding a plank for 5 deep diaphragmatic breaths. If you want a more challenging way to perform planks without any special equipment perform RKC Plankʼs. These are planks where you create maximum tension in your abdominal region by pulling your elbows into your chest and contracting your glutes as hard as possible.
Beginner: Regular Plank 3-4 sets x 5 breaths
Advanced: RKC Plank 3 sets x 3-5 reps – 1 rep = 5-10 seconds of max tension, followed by 5-10 seconds “relaxed” while remaining in the plank position
3. Push-Ups – Push-ups are a great exercise to pack on muscle and strength in your upper body, specifically your shoulders, triceps, and pecs. If you find doing push- ups are too difficult, just focus on the eccentric(lowering) portion of the exercise. This simply means lower yourself in the push-up position for a 6 – 10 second count and donʼt push-up to the top. Each time you lower yourself for 6-10 seconds equals one rep. If you want a more advanced way to perform push-ups, use a 3 to 6 second eccentric (lowering), but instead of falling to the ground to complete the rep, push yourself up to the top.
Beginner: 3 sets x 6 reps just focusing on a 6-10 second eccentric (lowering)
Advanced: 4 sets x 6 reps 3-6 second eccentric while also pushing yourself up
4. Prone Y,T,W Isometric Hold – Prone Y,T,W holds are a great exercise to improve upper back and shoulder strength. These are done by laying on your stomach in the prone position and holding each letter(Y,T,W) for 15-20 seconds. Coaching cues here are to squeeze your shoulder blades together while holding your arms up in each position.
Beginner: 3-4 sets x 15 second hold each letter (45 seconds of total tension)
Advanced: 3-4 sets x 20 second hold each letter (1 minute of total tension)
5. Rear – Foot Elevated Bulgarian Split Squats – This exercise is great for improving lower body strength and range of motion, specifically mobility in the hip flexors and groin. To perform this exercise at home all you need to do is to elevate your back leg on either a chair, couch, or a bench.
Beginner: 3-4 sets x 10 reps each leg
Advanced: 3-4 sets x 6 each leg with a 6 second eccentric (lowering)
BONUS: If you’re an advanced athlete I put together an entire SPEED and POWER Workout at the Hills on my YouTube channel!
Andrew, you donʼt need specialty equipment to get the job done. Start incorporating these exercises and keep things simple. The most effective exercises are the simplest ones. Having said that, you can start your in home training today!