We all hear that we need to push ourselves—go hard or go home—and even stretch our comfort level when training. There are science-based theories that support this mentality, like the Overload Principle, which states that you need to train harder than the previous time to see improvement. But training harder doesn’t always mean lifting heavier weight.
Before you do more in the weight room, identify your goal: absolute strength, speed-strength or strength-speed. Absolute strength training focuses on increasing the maximal amount of weight an athlete can lift. Speed-strength training develops strength with speed as its main priority. Strength-speed training predominantly builds strength, with speed as the second priority.
Program focus and training speeds help you achieve different weight room results. If you want to lift heavier weights, train for absolute strength with heavy Bench Presses and Squats. Want to get faster [speed-strength]? Use lighter weight and perform quick, explosive drills like Box Jumps or Squat Jumps. If you want to build power [strength-speed], do Olympic lifts, such as Hang Cleans.
Also, it’s not just about the exercise that you do; it’s about how fast you move the resistance: the bar or yourself. The same exercise or movement can be used for both speed and strength training, the difference being the load [amount of weight used]. For example, if you did a heavy Squat [90 percent or more of a one-rep max], you would move at a slower rate and develop absolute strength. With a lighter but still challenging load [70-80 percent of a one-rep max], you work for strength-speed. Do an explosive exercise like the Weighted Vest Squat Jump and you will work for speed-strength.
If you want to get faster and more explosive, incorporate Olympic lifts and power movements like Hang Cleans, Power Cleans, Med Ball Throws and basic plyometrics into your program. During training, proper technique is priority 1, speed of the movement is priority 2, and weight load is priority 3.