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Opinions on Speed Work


Does anyone here think speed work is as important as Louie says? Looking at all the raw world record holders I don’t see one that used speed work. It would seem that if speed work was as great as it sounds it would be great for olympic lifting but the greatest results in olympic lifting have come from the Bulgarian method which consists of zero speed work.

I bought the science and practice of strength training by Zatsiorsky and it talks about a dynamic day but it sounds more geared for an actual athlete not a power athlete. For example, it mentions how if an athletes squat improved to 3 times body weight but his jump did not increase, his rate of force development was the limiting factor.

It doesn’t say anywhere that if his jump and rate of force development increase his squat will increase too. The book also gives a recommendation for an athlete training for maximal strength and doesn’t include a dynamic effort day.

IMO, not as useful as many Westsiders seem to think. It can be useful, but it is not necessary. Like anything, you have to find what works for you.

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[quote]Mahoney wrote:
Does anyone here think speed work is as important as Louie says? Looking at all the raw world record holders I don’t see one that used speed work. It would seem that if speed work was as great as it sounds it would be great for olympic lifting but the greatest results in olympic lifting have come from the Bulgarian method which consists of zero speed work.

I bought the science and practice of strength training by Zatsiorsky and it talks about a dynamic day but it sounds more geared for an actual athlete not a power athlete. For example, it mentions how if an athletes squat improved to 3 times body weight but his jump did not increase, his rate of force development was the limiting factor.

It doesn’t say anywhere that if his jump and rate of force development increase his squat will increase too. The book also gives a recommendation for an athlete training for maximal strength and doesn’t include a dynamic effort day. [/quote]

I think its important for powerlifting, I mean developing explosiveness is basically what allows you to lift more weight. Regarding OLY lifting(just my opinion, probably BS) speed work might not as be crucial since the lifts themselves are a little more speed related than squat bench dead ( I understand speed is very crucial to the PL lifts), so maybe just training the lifts themselves is effectively speed work? Just my thoughts, probably BS

[quote]chobbs wrote:
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Personally I think it’s silly.

My .02…

Most lifters on this form (more than 98%, StormTheBeach and Chicksan do it right too my knowledge…) do speed work all wrong. I am not saying I know how to program speed work or westside perfectly otherwise I would be at WESTSIDE training with Louie Simmons who pioneered the idea essentially into powerlifting (aside from people like HATFIELD).

Speed work is simply not just for developing maxiumum force and explosive power. It also develops technique. The problem I run into with a lot of lifters is that the individual programs the bar weight for speed work either way too heavy, or way too light.

When the bar is too heavy, the lifters recovery is sabotaged, and the form begins to break down. When the weight is too light, the stimulus is not high enough to create an adequate resistance to force explosive power, or have the lifter essentially “fight” to keep in form.

The idea from speed work as mentioned has been done by MANY MANY lifters over the course of time. However, remember there is a million ways to skin a cat. Brandon Lilly likes to use things like pause squats, Sam Byrd likes to use CAT (originally created by Fred Hatfield). Those are just two off the top of my head. Chad Wesley Smith likes to utilize jumps, and medicine ball throws to develop his speed.

You don’t need bands, and chains, and accommodating resistance for developing speed and power. They are all just TOOLS… I would say progress as long as you can without them (which should be a long ass time) and then start slowly adding things like that in.

Personally, I used speed work for only a limited time, and I’m not convinced I did everything right. I’m a young lifter, I tried to read everything I could of Louie’s and did the best I could. For bench, it did nothing but give me sore elbows, and I never loved it for squats either.

However, I feel it made a HUGE differrence with my deadlift. Before speedwork, my dead was one of my worst lifts at 285. Then I started doing speed pulls and ONLY speed pulls to train my deadlift, and I started hitting a 20-30 lb pr every time I maxed out - that has been consistent for well over a year now, my most recent max being 455 with a near miss at 475. Something about increasing the speed of my pulls, the precision of my setup, and the soundness of my technique really helped my deadlift. Other lifts, not so much. But maybe one day I will return to the conjugate method, do a better job of it, and change my mind.

One thing I will say, I’m not sure how valid bringing oly lifters into this is… First of all, their movements are hugely dependent on speed, so just because they don’t do “speed work” a-la louie simmons doesn’t mean they aren’t constantly training to be faster - faster pull off the ground, faster pull under the bar, etc. Secondly, most olympic lifters make sure that they can squat FAR more than they can clean, so they don;t have to worry as much about the speed of a max squat, because they will never max squat in competition.

And thirdly, bulgarian style “max every day” programs don’t include speed work… But most people who advocate these programs don’t tell you to squat to a TRUE max every day. Rather, you are squatting to a heavy single - generally around 90%, but heavier if you feel good that day. And most of the time, you are supposed to stop before your bar speed slows significantly. Basically, you are squatting to the heaviest single you can with near perfect form and good bar speed. So olympic lifters squat heavy without speed work, but very rarely are they getting into territory where they are really grinding through reps that are like 5 seconds or more.

[quote]Rudy2401 wrote:
My .02…

Most lifters on this form (more than 98%, StormTheBeach and Chicksan do it right too my knowledge…) do speed work all wrong. I am not saying I know how to program speed work or westside perfectly otherwise I would be at WESTSIDE training with Louie Simmons who pioneered the idea essentially into powerlifting (aside from people like HATFIELD).

Speed work is simply not just for developing maxiumum force and explosive power. It also develops technique. The problem I run into with a lot of lifters is that the individual programs the bar weight for speed work either way too heavy, or way too light.

When the bar is too heavy, the lifters recovery is sabotaged, and the form begins to break down. When the weight is too light, the stimulus is not high enough to create an adequate resistance to force explosive power, or have the lifter essentially “fight” to keep in form.

The idea from speed work as mentioned has been done by MANY MANY lifters over the course of time. However, remember there is a million ways to skin a cat. Brandon Lilly likes to use things like pause squats, Sam Byrd likes to use CAT (originally created by Fred Hatfield). Those are just two off the top of my head. Chad Wesley Smith likes to utilize jumps, and medicine ball throws to develop his speed.

You don’t need bands, and chains, and accommodating resistance for developing speed and power. They are all just TOOLS… I would say progress as long as you can without them (which should be a long ass time) and then start slowly adding things like that in. [/quote]
So what is the proper percentage to program speed work at? I think the thing a lot of people run into is that there isn’t a happy middle. Anything above around 75% starts to interfere with recovery if you do enough reps and anything below around 85% doesn’t seem to affect max strength. So there isn’t a middle ground that improves max strength without affecting recovery.

Honestly, you seem to be inconsistent in what you are saying. First you say that speed work is about developing and maintaining proper form and then you say speed work could be box jumps. So box jumps help deadlift form?

The problem seems to be that although some very strong people do speedwork, there isn’t a really consistent explanation as to why it works, how it should be done, or even what it is. Moreover, there are lots of strong people that don’t do speedwork.

I always like DE days. It allows for lots of set-up practice and form work. Im a relatively slow lifter, especially in the squat. My 315 looks exactly like my 500 so the DE day, especially during the accumulation block, really kicked my ass and I think I benefitted from it. These are just my personal thoughts and opinions though. I dont know a thing about jumps or throws so I cant really comment on how those contribute.

I go back and forth on it. Whenever I take out speed pulls, my deadlift goes to shit. I’ve been doing other stuff on my “DE” bench day recently and made gains. I don’t think it’s a magic bullet. I don’t think you should blindly write it off either.

Didn’t Ed Coan do some kind of “speed work” – although different than what Louie prescribes? I follow Jeremy Hoornsta’s training, he does some kind of “speed work” after his heavy sets. Most of Josh Bryant’s trainees typically do some kind of speed training after heavy lifting too. Does that lend some credibility to the speed work argument?

[quote]frankjl wrote:
I go back and forth on it. Whenever I take out speed pulls, my deadlift goes to shit. I’ve been doing other stuff on my “DE” bench day recently and made gains. I don’t think it’s a magic bullet. I don’t think you should blindly write it off either.

Didn’t Ed Coan do some kind of “speed work” – although different than what Louie prescribes? I follow Jeremy Hoornsta’s training, he does some kind of “speed work” after his heavy sets. Most of Josh Bryant’s trainees typically do some kind of speed training after heavy lifting too. Does that lend some credibility to the speed work argument?[/quote]

If I remember correctly, Chad Wesley Smith also recommends doing speed work as well, KK has a dedicated Speed Deadlift day, Brandon Lilly’s Cube also has a DE day

I used to think DE days were really important even though I never really saw much in the way of speed improvement but, Louie said speed work so I " Yes Sir". Now for the past 2 months I have squat and deadlifted every Sunday with Sam Byrd and I can tell you in 2 months my squat has went from 400lbs to 445llbs. I’m not the best squatter but the point is we do “Speed Work” or CAT Speed Work once every 3 to 4 weeks using it mainly as a deload week.

Other than that there is no speed work days per say. Every rep of every set starting with a empty bar to the top sets is moved as fast as possible. But my self and Sam also train and compete RAW so, maybe there is something to it for geared lifters but, that’s a whole different thread.

[quote]frankjl wrote:
Didn’t Ed Coan do some kind of “speed work” – although different than what Louie prescribes?[/quote]
He treated every weight like it was a max weight, so all his sub-maximal sets were very explosive, because he was applying maximum force (and perfect form as though he were maxing out) to the bar every time. That was his “speed work” per se as far as I’m aware.

Personally I can’t do speed work, because I just don’t really believe in it. And if you don’t believe in something, whether it works or not, you’re probably not going to get shit out of it.

The main idea behind speed work seems to be that it improves power production, as in force x velocity, so should increase strength. This is completely flawed. Lifting is a test of maximal force production regardless of speed, and does not benefit from an increase in total power unless that comes from force production as opposed to velocity.

I don’t claim to know everything about training by any means, but from looking at what top lifters do and also trying different methods on myself, I believe that speed work is only beneficial at all because it is practice of the main lifts. However, surely more specific training (such as performing sub-maximal normal speed singles/doubles/triples instead of speed work) would have much better carry-over to maximal lifts, would it not?

This is what I have found to be the case, and I’ve heard other people talk about getting injured or reinforcing poor form with speed work - yet another reason to avoid it. Of course, this training can work, and for many of the elite lifters at Westside who carry long-term injuries and pains, the different stimulus and lighter weight could be ideal (the same goes for the other aspects of the conjugate method, particularly variation of main lifts; worthless for most lifters, but possibly beneficial to some with specific requirements), but in general I believe it is less optimal than many other training methods.

Also, to those saying that speed work can help with technique, I would like to add that, in powerlifting, technique is technique with a heavy weight. It cannot be learnt with 50-60% 1RM as used for conventional speed work.

Eric Spoto does speed work

I know that it is relevant as practice, a form of deloading, and active recovery. For actual strength obviously it doesn’t help.For an intermediate lifter as myself just getting in any reps with speed will benefit. More form practice the better. IMO. Then again if size is your goal don’t fing bother .

[quote]halcj wrote:
Also, to those saying that speed work can help with technique, I would like to add that, in powerlifting, technique is technique with a heavy weight. It cannot be learnt with 50-60% 1RM as used for conventional speed work.[/quote]

I am going to politely disagree with this statement. You may not be able to, which is understandable as many agree with you, but there are people who can fix technical problems with lighter weight while moving it as quickly as possible

Contradictory I think not…

Just because I provided one example of how another lifter uses speed work? Chad Smith still utilizes lighter loads in regards to his speed work. But he also points out in recent times that things like box jumps and med ball throws are great too. You might not be working on that EXACT form of exercise. However, it is teaching you the two of the three things I mentioned in my earlier post… Maximum force, and explosive power.

Form work is just a superb added benefit of doing it the way simmons and hatfield had mentioned.

As for speed work not working for form? You have proof in this thread that it works… How about guys like Matt Wenning? Go watch his 1000lbs squat. Looks like he is doing speed work… Shit does not just automatically break down because it gets heavy if your body has been trained with thousands of hours how to do that movement perfectly. Ever heard, perfect practice makes perfect?

There is a sweet spot for everyone, try speed work for a year… I bet you learn something new… Everyone wants to be the big dog on the block and bash all the theories, but how long have you tried it for steadily? 12 weeks? 9 weeks?

Don’t be a guru…

[quote]Brian14 wrote:
IMO, not as useful as many Westsiders seem to think. It can be useful, but it is not necessary. Like anything, you have to find what works for you.[/quote]

Bingo . I don’t use it anymore for a few reasons . One being is that I do not believe it is always necessary .