Faster 40 – How to Optimize and Repeat Speed Efforts

Written by: Will Parker, CSCS, USAW Level 1

Aristotle once said, “You are what you repeatedly do.” You do not have to be a Greek scientist and philosopher to know that if you run, cycle, swim or lift weights regularly that your body will then adapt to these activities becoming more proficient in them. This concept is critical to practice when working to improve your 40-yard dash. The “40” is an athletic staple for any football coach. Success in this test is especially critical for certain positions like Wide Receiver, Corner Back, Safety, Running Back, Linebacker, Tight End, and Defensive End. During this season of the NFL Combine and College Football Pro Days, scouts are traveling all across the country with their stopwatches at the ready to provide objective data for their team decision makers. The athletic performances of the prospective professional football players during these “job interviews” can either earn or cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars and in some situations even millions.

So how does a Greek philosopher from antiquity have an effect on these players ability to sprint? It comes down to repeating 100% effort, with the technical proficiency of course, over and over and over again. The fallacy many athletes and coaches make is not putting enough emphasis on RECOVERY between each sprint.

At EXOS @ Raleigh Orthopaedic, we know the immense value and positive benefits proper recovery has on our clientele after a Physical Therapy session or Performance Training workout. We believe in the importance of Recovery so much that it is one of our four pillars along with Mindset, Nutrition & Movement. Recovery is a notion that most people are familiar with and agree is important but do not always put into practice. The increased pace of society and idea that more is always better has made it difficult at times to slow down and do things the right way. So we must ask ourselves, what truly is my goal and is my training leading me there? If you want to run a faster 40-yard dash, are you giving yourself ample rest to reproduce 100% effort? If we are repetitively running at 90%, then we are merely conditioning ourselves to continue to replicate our 90% efforts.

When training our youth, adult & elite athletes, we consider such variables as injury history, current fitness level, age, body weight, nutritional habits, physical activities performed earlier in the day, lifts completed the previous day and when the combine or team workouts are to be held. These components, among others, help our coaches to determine the volume of training and rest intervals for each athlete to allow for optimum performance. A general recommendation you can start with is roughly a 10:1 rest to work ratio. An example of a speed training session applying this recommendation would be as follows: have athlete(s) perform 4-6 reps of 40yd sprints. If the athlete(s) ran the first 40yd sprint in 5 seconds, then the minimum rest required after each 40yd sprint would need to be 50 seconds.  Based on the factors listed above one can adjust this ratio as needed or allow even more rest time if doing more than a handful of reps.

Remember, “You are what you repeatedly do.” If you train and practice with excellence, then you will reproduce excellent results! If you are serious about your training and want to be pushed to new levels, whether you want to set a PR in your 40, vertical jump, bench press, 5k, marathon time or you just want to slim down before the summer beach season, our Performance Specialists and Registered Dietician at EXOS @ Raleigh Orthopaedic can help you unleash your potential!


About Coach Will Parker, CSCS, USAW Level 1

Will Parker is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist at EXOS @ Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic.  He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise & Sports Science from East Carolina University in 2006.  After graduating he worked for a year at NC State University as an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach for Football, Basketball, Baseball, Soccer, Softball, Wrestling, Track & Field, Golf, Tennis, Gymnastics, and Swimming & Diving.  Coach Will then joined Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic in December of 2006 where he remains today, more than 10 years later.  He enjoys various sports, board games, movies and being an active leader in his church Kings Park Raleigh.