T Nation

Does Lifting Speed Matter?

Not sure if this is a problem or not, but watching other lifting videos I’ve noticed something that stands out.

I am super slow. My squats and deadlifts move slow. Weight doesn’t matter either, even with an empty bar I couldn’t be “explosive”.

Example - my squat with an empty bar moves just as fast (slow) as my squat with working weight. Same as deadlift.
Is this a newb worrying about dumb things or an issue?

It’s all relative I think. Some lifters lift fast or miss it others have some super grinding power and are successful that way.

Your bar speed relative to your usual bar speed on the concentric especially through the sticking point is the most useful indicator for how much you have left in the tank on a set would be.

You could work on force/power development with CAT training or jumps and see if that makes a difference to you our results.


Bar speed does matter, however some people are more explosive than others.

Like @guineapig said you can work on building your speed.

1 Like

Is this something I should work on? Or is it something I can work on?

Most every solid training program has some form of “speed” work built into it.

There’s a ton of ways to address lifting speed. what does your training program look like right now?

Kinda doing my own thing right now. I have a training journal on here and the last few weeks of posting should give a good idea.

I’m addressing some squat pain currently (which is working) through exercises given to me by my PT. Once my squat is back to good I plan to start an actual workout. Been looking at some of the 5/3/1 stuff. Nothing is decided yet.

If you take 10 minutes to finish a lift, it’s still a good lift. Just lift as explosively as you can, as it probably won’t change all that much over time (assuming you are trying to lift explosively now).

In Strongman, I know a bunch of guys who carry an empty yoke at the same speed as they carry a 750lbs one and only slow when it gets right at maximal weight. Same with kegs, sandbags, farmers, etc.

I used to have a terribly slow squat and I heard that speed work doesn’t work so all my works sets were RPE8-9 or so and slow as fuck. It didn’t improve until I started doing submaximal work with the intent to move the bar as fast as possible, now my squat is much better.

Look up CAT (Compensatory Acceleration Training), Josh Bryant has articles and videos on it and you might be able to find something from Fred Hatfield, who originally came up with the concept. In fact, Louie Simmons got the idea for DE/speed work from Hatfield, combined with some Russian training methods. You don’t necessarily need to do what they do at Westside if you lift raw, although you could make it work, but normally CAT work would be in the range of 70-85% for sets of 5 or less (less reps as you go heavier, not close to failure).


Thanks man! Looks like I’ve got some reading to do!

Here’s the thing with the anti-speed work talk, Mike Tuchscherer wrote an article a while back called “Speed work doesn’t work” or something close to that, but later he started programming low rep submaximal work (like a bunch of triples with 75% for example) and also said that he has changed his stance on speed work. You don’t need to do the majority of your work with bands and chains if you lift raw, but submaximal work with a focus on explosiveness and technique definitely does work.


I try to lift every lift as fast as possible, as long as form is maintained. On warm ups be as explosive as you can. I then get speed work in every session.

I read a study once where they looked at strength gains and had one group lift at a tempo, and one group as fast as possible. The fast group got stronger.

1 Like

If you’re having pain, problems with your hips or joints or you just aren’t moving properly, it can be harder to lift fast.

Very good point. I have been in a lot of pain/discomfort on squats. Thanks to a good PT I am correcting those issues.

Speed work is most effective if you’ve already worked out the kinks in your technique and can apply maximal force to the bar without your technique breaking down. If you still good morning squat anything above 90%, there’s a good chance you’d good morning squat submaximal weight with a focus on speed. Speed is definitely important, but maintaining technique is more important.


Solid information. I definitely need to continue working on dialing in my form.

I didn’t know he changed his stance on this. Do you have any links to when he said this? Thanks.

On line with what your saying. I seen a instagram post on the Westsides account
Where they mention doing 5 x 5 on dynamic squats now and not the known doubles . But still using a pendulum wave. Which surprised me…

1 Like

Yeah, they do 5x5 sometimes now, and for deadlifts too. Breaks are longer too, I think 2-3 minutes usually. See some of Louie’s recent articles. He said he increased volume for DE deadlifts because of Boris Sheiko’s advice.

It was a couple years ago that he said that and I don’t remember where, you can try asking him if you want.

I did a squat workshop where the coach recommended 6x2 with 60%+chains for speed work. I was just dabbling around off program so I worked them and felt good.

I might just do my off season hypertrophy sets as speed reps to get it done faster