T Nation

Explsoive Strength vs Slow, Grinding Strength


How would you go about training for more of a “slow grinding” type of strength as apposed to fast and explosive? For example, in wrestling, I feel like you would need to posses both of these qualities.

I’ve also noticed that with older men, a lot of them seem to be really strong (like they could choke you out with one hand or beat you in an arm wrestle) even though they might not be that fast or explosive. This is what makes me wonder if there would be a difference in training to accomplish these two expressions of strength?


I think what you’re referring to is the ability to grind. My experience is that this is more a mental matter, even though there definitely are people who are more explosive and those who are naturally strong but not fast.

If you’re explosive, learn to grind with maximal weights. There probably isn’t a better way to do this than the Max Effort system in Westside Conjugate training, apart from maybe high rep squats with as much weight as you can handle.

If you’re naturally strong but slower, train to be explosive. There are a number of ways but I think pausing your lifts at the bottom is hard to beat.

It is never a good idea to deliberately train to move weights slowly. The aim is always to move them as fast as possible. However, learning to keep going when the weight starts to feel heavier and you slow down from fatigue is very important. That just takes balls and work capacity.

The only thing to be wary of is making sure your technique when fatigued doesn’t deteriorate to a dangerous extent. That’s why you generally never want to see someone who is still learning their technique keep working when bar speed slows down significantly. That’s a surefire sign that fatigue is kicking in and technique is about to go to hell.


I am natural fast switch and can move weight fast, which helped me move a lot of weight, but killed me in isolation exercises curls, laterals etc. Now that i am older and just train for development i have to relearn how to move , as to maximize development and reduce injury, especially pulling muscles. Example your biceps were made to carry something long distance, your back made to say drag a kill back to village, or a hot neanderthal chic, where your triceps made to push away fast , or throw a rock or spear at prey, or punch to defend self. Any way instead of throwing 13 plates on leg press and doing 12 reps in 30 seconds , ill throw on 10 plates do 12 rep in 60 seconds , lowering weigh slower , so my time under weight is acfually higher with less risk injury. I also believe that some of those grinders just got more heart , say in a deadlift i am used it coming off floor fast if it doesn’t clear my knees fast enough i abandoned, as im way out of position and quit so i dont injure, yet ive seen guys who pull 5 plates super slow and make huge effort end pulling 650. Look at WSM on say a truck pull the beginning of pull is super slow then faster , by the end of course slower because they are gassed. The beginning of and middle of pull is fast twitch but end is slow twitch. In muscle building though youre strongest most muscled athletes are mostly fast twitch. But yeah start the movement controlled then explode like my leg press lower slow them press.You look at difference between sprinter and long distance runner. Hope i cleared up a little.

  1. Yes there is a difference… you become good at what you practice. Applying strength in slow and fast movements are two different motor skills. If you want to be good at one you need to practice it.

  2. I noticed what older individuals can maintain (and gain) strength very effectively but explosiveness is the first physical quality to goes away with aging if it is not maintained (along with mobility).Which is why I believe that explosive work is one of the best “anti-aging” forms of exercise.

3 Most people are genetically predisposed for being better at one of the two types of demonstration of strength (fast or slow). If I’m working with someone needing to be a better overall athlete I emphasise the type of “strength” the person is less efficient at. If someone can rely on one or the other for his sport (e.g. powerlifting or olympic lifting) I maximize the person’s natural predisposition to make it as high as possible.

  1. Slowing down the eccentric (lowering) phase

  2. Using paused lifting (including pauses/holds during the movement, at the point in the ROM you want to increase “grinding strength” or at the beginning of the concentric/lifting phase to get rid of the stretch reflex)

  3. Using heavy partial movements

  4. Using functional isometrics and overcoming isometrics
    https://www.t-nation.com/training/rapid-fire (tip #4)
    https://www.t-nation.com/training/muscles-for-athletes-2 (part III Isometric emphasis methods)


Ideally, I practice both explosive and slow and grinding each session, keeping in mind that I go to the gym three times a week. I do the explosive exercises first, because doing a clean and press with a tired back is a bad idea in my experience. For example, this morning I did dips (since I’m over weight I need to be fresh to do dips at all), then clean and press, then grinded out lots of squats, then used push presses to do shoulder press negatives, and then trap bar carries. Saturday I’ll be doing snatch highs, pull ups, power cleans, heavy rows, then the heavy dead lifts.