Zach Homol – @ZachHomolPower
When it comes to speed training in the sport of powerlifting there are many different theory’s, viewpoints and arguments that can be made. Especially for the RAW Powerlifters. Is speed training even needed for RAW powerlifters? Is it needed for geared lifters? Is it needed for athletes? Speaking directly from my experience in all 3, as well as the thousands of individuals I train around the world, I stand behind speed training 100%. I also stand behind speed training through accommodated resistance (bands or chains) for geared lifters, RAW lifters and athletes.
However, I believe there are certain levels in each individual’s training where speed training may not be as effective. For example, if you are the explosive athlete/ lifter who has no problem moving upwards of 90% of your 1rm EXTREMELY fast yet, when you get the heavier loads you completely dud out, this ,along with many other potential causes, could be a cause of needing MORE work capacity which in return builds more MASS.
Here’s a brief understanding of speed training in the sport of Powerlifting. Let’s say we are a RAW Powerlifter and we bench on Monday and Thursday’s with Thursday being our dynamic speed training. On Monday we will program more working set’s, breaking down the muscles more on our main movement (Flat bench). On Thursday’s we will lead with Flat bench as well doing speed training through accommodated resistance (Bands/Chains). On the Thursday’s our sets and rep ranges may look as such: 10 sets of 3 reps using 70% of our 1rm- moving the weight as fast as possible each set and each rep. This is a very common percentage, set and rep range for speed training. But, within just the first day of speed training you will notice that you’re not necessarily “taxing” the chest like you typically would. Instead, you are training your body to move submaximal loads FAST, which will then carry over into moving your heaviest percentages relatively fast. It’s no surprise why the strongest lifters in the world move even their max lifts relatively FAST.
Speed training is also GREAT for the lifters and athletes who are trying to remain in the same weight class without putting on much more extra size. Seeing how speed training doesn’t necessarily break the muscles down like normal sets would, there is less time needed to recover. As a result, speed training will not build the typical mass like doing working sets of 6-10 reps with 75% of your 1 rep max would. See, we are using the same percentage yet receiving opposite results due to the way it is programmed.
So when should we NOT be utilizing speed training? In my own personal experience, there are very little times that I myself or anyone who runs my programming doesn’t do speed training-if ever in most cases. As I stated above the only reason to potentially get completely away from speed training is if you decide to use your 2nd chest day to build more MASS. BUT! Here is what I found in my research of pulling speed training. When speed training was pulled within the first 4 weeks, my direct clients, as well as myself, noticed a decrease in bar speed, not to mention the difficultly to recover and be 100% optimal for the next heavy training day.
What did I learn from this study?
Speed training is 100% needed in all performance based athletes.
If I am a performance based athlete who is trying to put on more size do I need speed training?
YES! What I found in the literature of study was even though we began to pack on more mass during the 4 week block of pulling speed training, we quickly noticed the speed on the heavy percentages decrease and, as a result, our numbers began to suffer. Though there is that special case I mentioned at the beginning, the person who needs more work capacity because he/she has truly hit their limit on strength at their body weight, THIS IS A VERY RARE CASE! Meaning if you are 100% dialed in on your nutrition and you are 100% dialed in on text book leverages and positioning leaving you MAXED OUT in a specific weight class I would THEN suggest pulling speed training out of the mix. BUT, only for 3 weeks before bringing it back into the mix for 3 weeks. I would run this interval of 3 weeks of speed training on with 3 weeks of work capacity on for 6 months to a year building both more mass and continuing to move the bar fast as you grow into the next weight class.