Sebastian Giovinco, at 5′ 4″, might be the smallest player in the MLS, but he also might be the fastest. Oh, and he also scores a lot of goals. His nickname is the "Atomic Ant".
Whilst his move to Toronto back in 2015 certainly raised some eyebrows, no one can deny the huge impact Italian international Sebastian Giovinco has had on the MLS since he joined the Canadian side.
What's more, Giovinco is really in his prime, he's not an international star who's come to the MLS for a few years on a retirement tour of sorts. For Giovinco though, I'm sure it was hard to turn down nearly $7 million to come play in the MLS...and so far he's earned it.
In last season's domestic campaign alone, the ex-Juventus man impressed all-round and won the MLS MVP award at a canter.
With his quick feet and lethal finishing, the 29-year-old is certainly a handful for any North American defence but it is perhaps his devastating pace that arguably stands out as his most dangerous asset.
With the likes of speedy strikers Jozy Altidore and Giovinco able to break quickly on the counter for Toronto, it's fair to say that their chances of winning a lot of MLS games is high again this year. And, they will again make it to the MLS finals if their two top strikes can keep scoring goals like they've done in years past.
MLS players talk about what makes Sebastian Giovinco one of the best players in MLS. One big reason of course is his speed.
For those looking to up their speed game and start terrorising opposition defenders with their Giovinco-like pace this season, here's a look at our three recommended exercises below for improving sprint speed.
Build leg and core power with squats
Whether you're training for soccer or not, squats are said to be one of the most crucial exercises to perform in the gym on a weekly basis.
Whilst their execution have been scientifically proven to release more testosterone in the body and thus help muscular gains in other areas, regular squats will increase the number of fast twitch muscle fibres in your core and lower body.
This extra presence of fast twitch muscles will help increase your speed over a short distance and are the crucial building blocks for any player looking to get faster on the pitch.
5 x 8 reps of 60% of your maximum weight (twice per week)
Believe it or not, you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy resistance equipment to achieve your goals. The earth has its own free form of resistance you can use in abundance and it's called gravity. To become faster at sprinting, there's no substitute for actually partaking in the act of sprinting itself.
By running up a hill at an incline of 5-10% on a regular basis, your core and leg muscles will adapt to the extra exertion required and make sprinting on a flat pitch surface easier.
10 x 20m hill runs at an incline of 5-10% (twice per week)
Be quicker off the mark with a series of Plyometrics
The benefits of plyometric exercises are said to be two-fold. Not only do they make you more explosive off the mark, if done over a long period of time, they can dramatically improve your muscular endurance and allow you to maintain that devastating speed right until the 90th minute.
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