Stride Frequency Exercises To Run Faster
In this section, I want to show you some very powerful stride frequency exercises to run faster, but first, let’s define what is a “stride frequency”.
Stride frequency is basically the rate at which you can move your legs during a run.
Stride frequency is measured by taking the number of strides you can take with your legs in a “designated amount of time”.
It can be measured as strides per minute, strides per hour, etc.
Strides per minute is the more common number that is used.
An alternative way to measure stride frequency is to measure the quantity of strides you make with your legs in a “designated amount of distance”.
In other words, it can be measured as 98 strides per 100 meters or 35 strides per 40 yards, etc.
In this speed training blog, I will use both types of stride frequency measurements (in “time” and in “distance”) to help you understand the importance of increasing your stride frequency exercises to run faster.
Measuring stride frequency over a distance is not a common way of looking at stride frequency but I still like to use it because some people understand that format better.
You may often hear the “concept” or the term “stride frequency” being referred to as:
- Turnover or Turnover Rate
- Rollover or Rollover Rate
- Stride Rate
- Spin or Spin Rate
All these terms are sometimes mistakenly used to describe the concept of stride frequency but are not the correct terms.
I like to keep it simple and use the term that all Division IA, Pros, and scientists use, which is the term “stride frequency“.
If you happen to use another term other then what I have listed above to refer to the concept of “stride frequency” that is fine with me as long as you understand that we are talking about the same concept.
What To Do To Run Faster:
Focus On Stride Length 0r Stride Frequency?
When you are looking for what to do to run faster, you will often times run into folks that believe that increasing your stride length is more important than increasing your stride frequency or vice versa.
I do not favor one type of training over the other.
When you are looking for what to do to run faster, you are looking for anything that will give you an “edge” on the field and on the track.
Therefore, I do not recommend you become bias towards any type of speed training exercises to run faster. If it works, try it, and if it doesn’t work, then put it aside and find something else that works to help you run faster.
If you look at the concept of stride frequency from a biomechanical perspective, you will notice that someone who has longer legs will naturally take more time to complete each stride than someone who has shorter legs.
Therefore, it is easier for someone with shorter legs to complete more strides in one minute then someone with longer legs simply because the distance their legs have to move is much shorter.
In your search for speed, you may run into the terms, “short swing stride” or even “long swing stride“. Those terms simply refer to a short stride and a long stride respectively.
Regardless if you have long or short legs, everyone is capable of improving their stride frequency. I say this because I don’t want you to think that the length of your legs is going to hinder the development of your stride frequency.
Also, it doesn’t matter if you are looking for ways to run faster in short bursts (such as in football) or ways to run a faster mile, any improvement in your stride frequency will help you run faster.
There are many effective and proven stride frequency exercises to run faster, but in this section, I just want to focus on the ways to run faster that you can:
- Perform without having to buy any special equipment. (Parachutes, flexbands, sleds, etc.)
- Perform without the aid of a spotter or training partner.
- Perform without having to buy a gym membership or enroll in a specialized training facility.
Let’s take a closer detailed look at what to do to run faster by increasing your stride frequency and why it works.
How Do You Increase Your Speed
By Doing Stride Frequency Exercises To Run Faster
First, let’s take a look at the math and science of “WHY” doing stride frequency exercises to run faster work.
I believe that if you understand how stride frequency exercises work to help you run faster, then there will be a much better chance that you will do them correctly and effectively in your speed training.
Let’s revisit the scenario that I used to explain about how to improve your stride length…
Imagine that you are in the same 100 meter race and let’s take a look at the simple math of how you can run faster by improving your stride frequency.
Again, I will assume that you are capable of completing 100 steps or 100 strides in 10 seconds. In this case, your stride frequency would be “100 strides/10 seconds”
This means that each “step” or “stride” you take will cover 1 meter, so in order for you to win the race, you must take 100 steps or 100 strides to complete the race.
When you run 100 strides/10 seconds that means it takes .10 seconds to complete each stride. (10 seconds ÷ 100 strides = .10 seconds/stride).
Imagine if you were to increase your stride frequency to 102 strides/10 seconds? How would this make you faster?
Well, let’s take a look at the math at what the difference in 2 strides will make…
If you can run 102 strides in 10 seconds, that means it takes you only .098 seconds to complete each stride. (10 seconds ÷ 102 strides = .098 seconds/stride).
If it takes you 100 strides to complete the 100m race, then this means that you can finish the race in 9.80 seconds!
Again, this is a huge difference in speed!
It’s very simple, if you can run “102 strides/10 seconds” instead of “100 strides/1o seconds” then that means you can finish running the distance of 100 meters in less than 10 seconds!
This is why it is so important to work on stride frequency exercises to run faster.
Now that you understand scientifically and mathematically “why” increasing your stride frequency can help you run faster…
Let’s now take a look at exactly “how” your stride frequency improves as you are doing the stride frequency exercises to run faster.
How Can I Run Faster
By Doing Stride Frequency Exercises?
Now that you clearly understand “why” increasing your stride frequency will make you run faster, let’s take a closer look at “how” doing stride frequency exercises actually helps you to run faster.
Everyone naturally runs with a specific stride frequency and in order for you to increase your stride frequency and overcome your natural stride tendencies, you have to do some type of “overload” or “overspeed” training where your body is “forced” to increase it’s normal stride frequency.
This “overload” training principle is similar to what is used to build muscle or increase the flexibility of your joints.
When you hear trainers talk about overloading your stride frequency, all it means is that you are moving your legs much faster than you normal running stride so that your feet are moving more frequently than they normally do.
In the beginning, when you first train to increase your stride frequency, it will feel very weird, uncomfortable and very off balanced.
There is a high probability that you will trip and fall on your ass or even pull a hamstring because you are not accustomed to moving your legs so fast.
This is normal so do NOT freak out!
This is also why I highly recommend you run at a slow pace to get used to moving your feet so fast before you try to run at full speed and risk an injury.
However, after continual practice of overloading your stride frequency and how fast your legs move, your body will slowly adapt and you will begin to “naturally” start moving your legs faster than normal.
There are basically 2 ways to increase your stride frequency:
- Run downwards on some type of a declined surface, or
- Run with the assistance of a push or a pull. (i.e., vehicle, training partner, flexbands, etc)
Running downwards on some type of “declined surface” is the most common type of speed training methodology which forces you to move your legs at a faster pace than normal, thereby forcing you to practice moving your legs at a faster rate.
I prefer to show you this type of stride frequency exercise when showing you how to run a faster 40 yard dash or run a faster mile because it does not require any special speed training equipment and you can do it almost anywhere.
The second way of getting you to move your feet faster and increase your stride frequency is to do some type of assisted speed training on a level surface with the addition of some type of “pushing” or “pulling” device or person.
An example of an assisted pulling exercise would be to have a car or bicycle pull you with a flexband or rope to force you to move your feet faster.
An example of an assisted pushing exercise would be to run in the direction of a heavy wind that will push you to move your feet faster.
The addition of the extra pushing or pulling force will force your legs to naturally move at a faster pace.
It does not matter which method you choose to use, they are both very effective means of artificially forcing your body to move your feet faster thereby increasing your stride frequency.
Now let’s take a close look at some of the ways to run faster on a declined surface so that it can help you move your feet faster and increase the rate of your stride frequency.
What Are The Best Stride Frequency Exercises To Run Faster?
As I mentioned earlier, running on some type of “declined” surface to increase your stride frequency is one of the best exercises to run faster.
In this section, I will focus mainly on the first type of training in which you use various types of “declined” surfaces to increase your stride frequency because:
- It is easier and inexpensive to find a declined surface.
- You don’t need to buy or setup any specialized equipment.
- It is safer.
- Lastly, you can safely learn and practice on your own without the aid of a badass personal trainer or speed coach like myself.
Once you have applied the “declined” surface training drills then you can move to more advanced level stride frequency exercises using specialized speed training equipment and training partners.
Now that I have explained how you run faster by improving your stride frequency in “theory”, let’s now take a look at the “application” of the various ways to run faster by training your legs to move faster in order to increase your stride frequency.
Ways To Run Faster Using A Declined Surface
To Increase Your Stride Frequency
I will go over each stride frequency workout and ways to run faster on an declined surface in detail.
Although there are many different speed training techniques and strategies to help increase the frequency of your running stride, I purposely chose the following exercises because you can go out and practice them immediately and get results.
I don’t want you to have to hire a trainer or buy specialized speed training equipment.
The biggest challenge you will face when training to increase your stride frequency is to find a quality declined running surface.
Here are the characteristics of a quality inclined running surface:
- It needs to have a smooth and even running surface with no pot holes, jagged surfaces, or loose stones.
- It needs to have a smooth and steady rate of decline.
- It needs to have a lot of open field, length and distance to allow you to run at least 50-100 meters (yards) without any physical obstructions.
- It needs to be free of distraction.
- It needs to have good traction.
After extensive research into declined running surfaces, I have found the following declines to be of high quality and very safe for speed training drills to increase the frequency of your stride.
The declined surfaces are listed in random order and neither one is better or more important than the other. Choose the one that best fits your situation.
1. Parking Garage Ramps – In my opinion, these are one of the BEST declined surfaces to run on because they have a very even running surface that provides lots of traction. The angle of decline is also very steady, consistent and reliable which allows you do a lot of blind folded speed drills without fear of tripping over yourself or twisting your ankle or knee.
If you live near a metropolitan area, you should be able to find a very good parking garage that is not busy on the weekends to use for your speed training drills.
Even on a busy day, you can still find some empty parking spaces on the very top floors. During the hot summers, the parking garage ramps also provide plenty of shade for your training so you can remain cool and not easily become exhausted.
I also like the fact that most parking garages in the U.S. have standardized 8 1/2 feet wide parking spaces (7 1/2 feet wide for compact parking spaces) which allows you to easily “mark off” the distances you have to run for your speed training drills. You can easily mark off your running distances by placing small orange cones on the paint lines or you can simply use several towels, t-shirts, or gym bags to mark off your running distances.
Some disadvantages of parking garages are that they may be private and there may be security guards that will not allow you to use their ramps for speed training. You can easily overcome this by befriending the security guard by bringing him some coffee, snacks, sodas, etc. You will be surprised how easily you can win someone over with a cup of coffee and a candy bar.
Another disadvantage of using a parking garage is that some parking garages are too short and there may not be enough distance for you to do certain long distance speed drills.
Despite the minor disadvantages of parking garages, I still think they are one of the best declined training grounds to increase your stride frequency.
2. Freeway Entrance/Exit Ramps – A freeway ramp is another excellent declined surface that you can use for your stride frequency training. It provides a very even running surface that provides lots of traction and plenty of running room to do your longer distance speed drills.
The angle of decline is also very steady, consistent and reliable which allows you do a lot of blind folded speed drills without fear of tripping over yourself or twisting your ankle or knee.
The biggest disadvantage of using a freeway entrance or exit ramp is the safety issue with moving cars and busy traffic, however, if you find a freeway ramp that has little traffic and use it on a Saturday or Sunday, you will find that it is relatively safe and has very little traffic.
3. Hills – Hills are awesome declined surfaces to run on for your stride frequency exercises. The disadvantages of running on a hill is that the slope of the hill is NOT always consistent and DOES NOT have a gradual incline.
Often times the hill is either too steep or too shallow for training. Even if you find a decent hill with a good slope, the surface may not always be smooth and even for your speed drills.
The grass on the hills can also cause traction problems so make sure you use the proper running shoes (possibly with kleats) to ensure good traction and avoid slippage.
The risk of twisting an ankle or knee is higher on a hill because of the uneven and unpredictable surface. Plus, the dirt in the hill may not always have the same texture and hardness depending upon the weather and humidity conditions.
Nevertheless, a hill is still a good decline training surface if you do not live near a parking garage or freeway entrance ramp.
How To Run A Faster 40 Yards Or Run A Faster Mile
Increasing your stride frequency is important whether you are looking for how to run a faster 40 yard dash or run a faster mile.
Some folks think that training to increase your stride frequency is for short distance runners only.
This is NOT true.
No matter what distance you need to run or what type of sport you play, you can always benefit from being able to move your legs at a faster rate.
If you think that stride frequency workouts are not necessary, just imagine how sooner you can cover the distance of a 5k or 10k marathon if you were able to complete more strides per minute?
Now that you understand the importance of increasing your stride frequency, let’s take a look at other ways to run faster.
The next component of speed training that I want to share with you deals with how to launch your body from the starting line correctly using a proper takeoff.
- Go back to the previous section on “Stride Length Workout To Run Faster“
- Go to the next section and learn the “How Can You Run Faster Using A Proper Takeoff?“