4 Exercises to Build Speed Like DK Metcalf

This past spring, Seattle Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf, 23, decided to test his speed against world-class sprinters in an international track meet. But while he’s one of football’s best deep threats, his 100-meter results weren’t impressive: He finished in ninth place in his heat (10.37 seconds). Game speed doesn’t translate into sprint competition, says Metcalf’s trainer, Nic Hill. Metcalf doesn’t focus on straight-line speed at his day job. Receivers must run fast—and change direction quickly, too. So he trains for speed but must also refine his ability to slow down. “He needs to be not just fast but able to stop on a dime, change direction, and reaccelerate at a high-level speed,” says Hill.

Master these drills and you’ll do both, too.

SPEED YOUR BODY UP!

1. Trap Bar Deadlift

Stand inside a loaded trap bar. Tighten your abs, push your butt back, lower your torso, and grasp the bar’s handles. Stand explosively, squeezing your glutes. Do 3 sets of 3 reps. Don’t focus on lifting heavy, says Hill. Instead, work to lift the weight quickly every time.

2. Quick Jumps

Metcalf trains his ability to land and then explode quickly with hurdle hops, spacing four 36-inch-high hurdles about 2 feet apart. He’ll jump over each one, land, then take off over the next hurdle as quickly as possible. No hurdles? Use any 4 obstacles you have. Do 3 sets.

. . . AND THEN SLOW IT DOWN!

1. Split Drop

Start standing, feet together. Jump a few inches off the floor. Land with your left foot forward and right foot back, lowering quickly into a reverse lunge. Stop your back knee before it hits the floor. Pause, then press back to standing. Do 3 sets of 5 reps per side.

2. The Runaround

Mark off a 5-yard distance and a10-yard distance. Sprint 5 yards as hard as possible, then slowdown quickly. (It may take you a few steps when you first do this.) Backpedal back to the start, then sprint 10 yards. Slow down quickly again. Walk back to the start. Do 4 sets.

This story appears in the September 2021 edition of Men’s Health.

Anna Katherine Clemmons is an adjunct professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, and has written for numerous publications, including ESPN the Magazine and The New York Times.

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