How to Run a Faster 40

How to Run a Faster 40
The 40-yard dash is not a common event in track and field events, but it is a standard method of evaluation used by numerous organizations and sports. That's because the 40-yard dash is considered the best example of an individual's ability to accelerate and cover short distances quickly. Having a quick 40-yard dash won't help you when running a marathon, but it could help you when covering short distances in either sports or other outdoor activities. Football is the sport that most utilizes the 40-yard dash--the NFL makes 40-yard dash times a critical part of evaluation for prospective rookies entering the league.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Step 1
Make sure your front foot is your strongest leg. The back leg generates minimal power as you take off--it contributes a quick acceleration forward--while the front leg provides the bulk of your starting momentum. Putting your strongest leg at the front will maximize your acceleration potential and lead to faster times.
Step 2
Train the muscle groups you will use when running the 40-yard dash. This distance relies solely upon brute strength and your fast-twitch muscle fibers. The best way to improve your strength is in the weight room. Weight lifts such as the squat, leg press, shoulder press and rack clean work the appropriate muscle groups to yield an improvement in your 40. You should do repetitions at an 80 percent workload, completing 8 to 12 reps per set for 2 to 3 sets. Lifting should be done three to four days a week with a rest day in between.
Step 3
Do sprints in excess of 40 yards to build your fast-twitch muscle fibers. Practice sprinting from a standing position for 80 to 100 yards and do 8 to 10 of these each day, working at a 95 percent workload or higher. This will help you build a higher maximum speed by tuning your muscles to handle the fast-paced workload.
Step 4
Keep on the balls of your feet when running. Most sprinters never touch their heels to the ground when they are running--it works as a brake and creates unnecessary motion, since you will need to raise to the balls of your feet to continue on with your stride.
Step 5
Turn your focus from the sound of the gun to the movement of your power-side arm and leg. Runners who focus their attention on the gun then have to transfer their focus to their body and begin moving in that order. Instead, turn your focus to your arm and leg, as if they are spring-loaded and waiting for their release. Use the sound of the gun as your release instead of waiting for the gun to go off and give you permission to call your muscles to action. This simple mind trick can cut one-tenth of a second or more off your 40-yard dash time, which is significant at this short distance.

Tips & Warnings

If you are not currently using running spikes and are allowed to, these will cut down your time. They are lighter than normal shoes and provide better traction, helping you maximize your movement and eliminate slipping.

Article Written By Jonathan Croswell

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.

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