Do Ankle Weights & Parachutes Increase Sprinting Speed?

Improve sprinting speed with parachutes, which is considered overload or resisted acceleration training. The goal in overload training is to increase the length of your stride, which will positively impact speed. Other forms of overload training include uphill running and using elastic cords or weighted sleds. When performed properly, overload techniques do not distort sprinting form. Ankle weights are also a form of resistance. However, they can obstruct your technique. Use ankle weights only to strengthen muscles for sprinting, not while sprinting.

Speed Chute Running

Attaching a small parachute to your back has the effect of increasing wind resistance and forces you to take larger strides to accelerate. You can attain the overload effect without hampering your sprinting form. These drills can improve your stride length as well as explosive strength. The amount of resistance depends on the size of the chute. If you want to target the acceleration phase, use high resistance. Use medium resistance to build endurance. Low resistance is used to train the phase at which you’re running at top speed. If you use too much resistance, you’ll end up muscling your way forward and warp your form. The rule of thumb is to conservatively estimate the amount of resistance you need to benefit from the drill.

Example Parachute Drill

To do a speed chute run, put on the harness connected to the parachute. Loosen the chute until it’s open and the strings are not tangled. Step forward until the parachute and strings are directly behind you. Stand with staggered feet and knees slightly bent. Flex your elbows at 90 degrees, placing one hand in front of your shoulder and the other by your hip. Lean slightly forward at your waist. Sprint 30 to 100 yards, driving your arms and knees forward with as much powerful motion as you can muster.

Precautions and Tips

When you’re doing overload training for sprinting speed, allow your muscles to recover. Take two or three days off before the next speed chute running session. Stop assisted sprints if your form starts to deteriorate or fatigue sets in. Before an overload session, do a warm-up. For example, run several low-intensity sprints and then put on the parachute harness. After the session, perform maximal sprints so you can incorporate the benefits of overload training directly into your performance.

Ankle Weights for Sprinting

Running with ankle weight is not recommended. It can negatively impact your stride length and technique by distorting the mechanics of running, according to Eugene Coleman’s book “52-Week Baseball Training.” However, using ankle weights in exercises to strengthen your hips and legs can help your sprinting speed. For example, perform a marching step with high knee lifts with ankle weights. While standing in place, rapidly lift one knee to your chest and then drive it back down. As soon as your toes reach the ground, lift the other knee. Focus on the speed of the movement, not the rate of turnover. Aim for two steps per second. In addition, the ankle weights must be light enough so they don’t slow down your movement.

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