Top 8 Running Drills to Increase Running Speed

Best running drills

Becoming a faster runner requires dedication and the best running drills to ramp up your performance. In general, heavy cardio is strongly recommended to improve stamina. On the other hand, endurance and strength training is important for improving your overall muscle health and core. 

Only sprinters can understand the joy of shaving a second off their set time. Even though it may only be a second or two, it takes weeks or months of dedicated work.

For sprinters, runners, and those who run marathons, improving your overall speed can seem impossible, especially if you feel you feel like you’ve plateaued. But, not to worry. In this article, we’ll go over some of the top drills for improving your running speed, as well as, exercise routines for endurance.

The 8 Best Running Drills to Improve Your Speed

  1. High Knees
  2. Explosive hill sprints
  3. Straight-Leg Bounds
  4. A-Skip
  5. Side-Shuffle
  6. B-Skip
  7. Carioca
  8. Butt Kicks

The 8 Top Running Drills — How to Do Them

1. High Knees

An all-time classic, high knees are an effective exercise for building your lower body strength. This popular exercise helps build your calves, hamstrings, and glutes for more powerful strides.

Although a simple exercise to add to your routine, high knees can be intense and help activate your lower body muscles and overall core. The exercise itself makes for a great warm-up workout, as it’s easy to start with and helps get the pace going.

This exercise helps you work on your hip flexors, quadriceps, glutes, calves, and hamstrings. Besides this, it helps improve your muscle endurance as well.

How to do High Knees

High Knees
High Knees
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your head looking straight ahead.
  2. Lift your right or left knee towards your chest, parallel to your hip, and raise your arm on the opposite side in a running motion while doing this.
  3. Lower your leg and arm and repeat the process with your alternate leg and arm.
  4. Repeat the process as required.

2. Explosive Hill Sprints

Created to help you make an all-out effort, explosive hill sprints are an efficient way to ensure that you develop power in your lower body. This strenuous exercise helps individuals work on their alactic energy system. 

Although difficult at first, this exercise requires a bit more grit but can help increase your speed tremendously during regular training and runs. So, if you’re looking for an exercise to help improve your motion, explosive uphill sprints are a great exercise to make use of.

How to do Explosive Hill Sprints

explosive hill sprints
Explosive Hill Sprints
  1. To make use of this exercise, all you need to do is sprint up a hill, inclined, or on your treadmill for 20-30 seconds straight. 
  2. For beginners starting out, the process can be challenging; however, over time you can gradually increase your speed and the number of reps you do. 

3. Straight-Leg Bounds

When it comes to strengthening your hip flexor muscles, straight leg bounds are an excellent exercise to use. This exercise also improves your neuro-muscular effectiveness and your running technique.

While not strenuous, if you’re looking for a great exercise to use for warming up or starting your practice, straight-leg bounds should be one of the milder ones on your list.

How to do Straight-Leg Bounds

Straight leg bounds
Straight Leg Bounds

Run with your heel attacking the ground and your leg almost not bending at all. Make sure your leg hits your center of mass and that you emphasize contact with the ground using the balls of your feet.

4. A-Skip

When it comes to the best running drills for improving your speed, the A-skip is probably the most effective workout to try. Great for improving the strength of your leg muscles this exercise is well known for enhancing your running technique.

While not an exhausting exercise per se, the A-step helps with stamina and also in strengthening your hip flexors.

How to do A-Skip

Image source: Matt Holton/ Youtube
  1. Keep your feet hip distance apart and your head facing straight ahead.
  2. Step then raise your left foot to the height of your hip while standing on your left leg. 
  3. Lower your left foot to the center of your mass and alternate with your other foot. When doing this, keep in mind the exercise should resemble skipping.
  4. Repeat the repetitions as required.

5. Side-Shuffle

Side-shuffle, or lateral shuffle, helps users work on their hips, glutes, thighs, and calves. A great exercise for beginners, this drill can help out significantly by strengthening your lower body strength and improving your speed. 

Besides this, it also helps with coordination and balance, so it even helps you be more sure-footed on uneven terrain. Regardless of whether you want to make use of this exercise in your drills or daily workout routine, you’re sure to find that this is one of the best running drills to try out.

How to do Side-Shuffle

side shuffle
Side shuffle
  1. Keep your feet shoulder distance apart and halfway bent at the knees. 
  2. With your hands placed on either side, raised, or to your chest, take quick, small, and controlled steps in one direction.
  3. Repeat this movement, in the opposite direction.
  4. Gradually increase speed and the number of repetitions as required.

6. B-Skip

Improving your running technique and speed requires consistency and the B-step is yet another exercise you should consistently implement in your exercises. This easy exercise helps with coordination and maintaining proper form. It also helps in developing your hamstrings and lower body strength.

How to do B-Skip

Image source: Matt Holton/ Youtube
  1. Keep your feet hip distance apart then, skip and raise your left leg to the height of your hip
  2. After doing this, explosively grab the left leg in a motion that feels circular rather than like a kick.
  3. Repeat this movement on the other leg, and then alternate legs. 
  4. Gradually increase speed and the number of repetitions as required. The exercise in general should resemble skipping.

7. Carioca

It may sound similar to karaoke, but this is a speed drill, not a fun post-race entertainment activity! It requires some footwork but can improve your speed, hip flexibility, and range of motion.

How to do Carioca

Image source: King Sports/ Youtube 
  1. Cross your left leg in front of your right leg as you begin to move laterally to the right.
  2. After that, cross your left leg behind your right. 
  3. Swivel your hips and raise your arms as you go for balance.
  4. Increase your speed as you become more comfortable. You want to be able to move as quickly as possible while maintaining proper form.
  5.  Complete the carioca on one side for 20 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side. Finish three to four sets.

8. Butt Kicks

Butt kicks target your hamstrings specifically, allowing them to contract more quickly. Butt kicks are almost the polar opposite of high knees. They are high-intensity agility drill that raises your heart rate, increases speed, and improves running efficiency by warming up your quads and strengthens glutes and encouraging quick turnover. 

How to do Butt Kicks

Butt kicks
Image source: King Sports/ Youtube
  1. Begin with a short running stride, almost like you’re running in place. 
  2. Lift your knees just enough to get the heel of your running shoe directly under your buttocks. 
  3. To promote turnover and improve speed, switch legs quickly and keep your foot speed quick. 
  4. Perform three to four 30-second sets.


While there are various exercises out there to help you improve your running speed. Making use of running drills helps you focus on the muscles and the techniques required for your running. As most sprinters know, improving your speed can take months, so it’s important that you stay consistent.

While it may not seem extremely effective in the short-run, when it comes to any sport, for the most part, it boils down to preparation and long-term focus, and dedication to the process. We did our best to fill this article with the Best Running Drills out there. Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comments!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best running drill overall?

High knees, explosive hill sprints, and A-skip are the best running drills overall when it comes to improving both your technique and speed.

Do running drills help with endurance training?

Yes! Running drills can help you strengthen your lower body and improve your stamina, which helps to strengthen your overall endurance.

How often should you do running drills?

As with most exercises, it’s recommended that you practice a minimum of 4 to 5 times a week for effective results.

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