What Are Strength Speed Contractions?

What Are Strength Speed Contractions?

In your studies as a professional fitness coach, you’ve 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:

  • Absolute strength
  • Strength speed
  • Speed strength
  • Absolute speed

We are going to focus on one specific set of muscle contractions, strength speed, which are very common in numerous styles of fitness, like weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit and other mixed modality fitness models. Mastery of strength speed contractions is critical to developing athletes capable of winning competitions like the CrossFit Games.

The Definition of Strength Speed Contractions

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. Two of the barriers to entry for clients being “able” to produce strength speed we use are:

  1. Back squat @ body weight for 3 reps at a 30X1 tempo (3 seconds down, no pause in the bottom, fast up, 1 second rest at the top for al reps)
  2. Deadlift @ body weight for 3 reps (female) and @ 1.25 times body weight for 3 reps (male) at 30X1 tempo

If you’d like to learn how to incorporate strength speed work into your clients fitness programs, feel free to check out this free comprehensive download on strength speed contractions.


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