As professional coaches study their craft, they will likely come across the Strength Continuum. The Strength Continuum provides a context for classifying different types of muscle contractions. Characteristics of contractions differ between muscle groups and types of forces. For simplicity’s sake, four distinct categories are recognized in order to help fitness professionals categorize different types of contractions:
We are going to focus on one specific set of muscle contractions, strength speed, which is very common in numerous styles of fitness, like weightlifting, powerlifting, functional fitness and other mixed modality fitness models. Mastery of strength speed contractions is critical to developing athletes capable of winning competitions.
(Coach’s Tip: Learn how to create strength speed programs for athletes with this free guide.)
Strength Speed is the ability of the neuromuscular system to produce the greatest possible impulse in the shortest possible time. Olympic lifts (snatch and clean) and their derivatives have potential for power outputs higher than “power” lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift). Olympic lifts are the most commonly used movements in strength speed work.
In very simple terms, strength speed is a type of contraction in which load or weight is moved very quickly.
In order to express strength speed effectively, repetition of pure force generation — in the form of absolute strength — is necessary. Developing motor control to express force effectively through a lower speed of movement, allows for the full expression of strength speed.
Therefore, strength speed training is only applicable to those who can actually produce power. In order to produce power, a person must be able to produce force, moving a mass with acceleration.
The prerequisite to strength speed implementation is absolute strength. We use two tests to determine if a client is “able” to produce strength speed:
If you’d like to learn how to incorporate strength speed work into your client’s fitness programs, download our free guide to Strength Speed and learn from concept rich exploration and sample programming.