Different Speeds for Strength Training

Speed is a factor with a lot of influence when you're doing strength training. Depending on the exercise and what you want to achieve with it, you need to use a specific speed. This speed then influences aspects of development, such as hypertrophy, endurance, and power.
Different Speeds for Strength Training

Last update: 21 November, 2018

Speed is important! It’s OK to train at a snail’s speed in the beginning, and while your muscles are becoming used to exercise. However, at some point, you’ll want to use different speeds to increase your strength, endurance, and power for during exercise as well. Time to wake up for strength training!

Different speeds for strength training exercises have been used for decades. Even so, it wasn’t until recently that they began to explode in popularity thanks to technology. Marketing gave the world different applications and devices that could vary in speed. Some of these are encoders and speedometers, among others.

Strength training exercises

Before going into detail about speed, we have to define what strength training exercises are. Strength training is any physical activity that involves contraction of muscles to increase anaerobic endurance. Through this, strength training aims to achieve hypertrophy.

Woman strength training with a military press.

As time went on, experts developed different techniques for increasing muscle development. Some important examples are pre-exhaust training, proprioception, and the 100 repetitions technique, among others. Aside from that, some strength training exercises use a variety of machines or weights intended to optimize the training process. For example, the bench press, deadlift, pull-ups, and weighted squats are used for this type of training.

Different speeds during strength training

People usually pay more attention to technique and repetitions, than speed during their training sessions or routines. Nevertheless, strength training exercises, as the name implies, seek to develop strength. If that’s your goal, then speed is a significant variable in the equation.

Studies have revealed that exercises such as the bench press, (often called a stable load exercise), your results in terms of power, hypertrophy, and endurance are different when you execute it slowly. However, you should know that there are two types of slow movements:

  • When the intensity of the exercise is such that you can’t execute the movements any faster, even if you try.
  • When you have control over the speed. That is to say, the person doing the exercise executes it at a low speed but could increase that speed.

Neither of these two speeds are harmful, but they have different objectives. Intense, but slow movements improve your endurance and power. On the other hand, slow intentional movements can help stimulate a type of hypertrophy.

What does the speed of your strength training influence?

All of this information tells you that using different speeds during training gives you different results. When you do strength training exercises, the factor that you’re most concerned about is increasing your muscle mass. Muscle tissue is made up of muscle fibers:

  • Type One Fibers: these are slow twitch muscle fibers and they’re not as strong as Type Two fibers. These are the constant supply of oxygen and energy for anaerobic activities.
  • Type Two Fibers: are moderately fast twitch fibers. They have some characteristics of Type One Fibers, but they contract more quickly and with more strength.
  • Type Three Fibers: this type of fiber is similar to the others, but it’s a very quick twitch type of fiber with a lot of strength for short periods.

The fibers with the most capacity for growth are types two and three. That’s why, if you want to gain muscle, it’s a good idea to increase the speed of your strength training exercises. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean you should completely eliminate slow twitch exercises. There should be a balance among the different muscle fibers.

Woman and man strength training with squats.

Don’t ignore the speed factor. It’s fundamental for muscle growth. Something you should be aware of is that it’s important to increase speed gradually, but only if you’re sure that your form is correct. This means that you shouldn’t vary your speed until you’re completely comfortable with an exercise and you have perfect form.

If you increase your speed for an exercise you’re not very skilled with, you run the risk of becoming injured. This is due poor form. On top of that, when you don’t perform the exercise correctly, you won’t be working the correct muscles. This adds up to wasted training.

If at all possible, change your training for exercises at different speeds and you’ll notice some differences. Every time you train, you should demand more of yourself and keep improving. Remember, maintain hydration and eat well. Strength training exercises are very demanding!

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