Faster than lightning and still full of power! Good speed strength offers quite a few advantages and is particularly in great demand in sports such as soccer, sprinting or boxing. Here you can find out why you too can benefit from speed strength training and which exercises can help you improve them.
Regardless of whether you practice your favorite sport in a sports club or work out in the gym – strength in its various forms is involved in every movement you make. But what does power actually mean? Strength is the ability with the help of your muscles to overcome resistance, to hold it and to counteract it.
When you do strength training, your goal is to increase your strength skills as well as building muscle. Four types of strength can be distinguished: maximum strength, rapid strength, reactive strength and strength endurance. These different types of power influence each other. Some training programs combine them within a workout or train them alternately in the form of a cycle.
In order to make progress in training, it is therefore useful to train your maximum strength as well as speed strength, reactive strength and strength endurance. In this way, you set different training stimuli and ensure an increase in muscle mass, increase in strength and a better condition. But how exactly do the individual strength skills differ?
A little tip: In addition to effective strength training, the right diet is the be-all and end-all. A sufficient protein intake provides you with the building blocks you need for your cells and supports muscle growth. Make sure you meet your protein needs every day. If you’re having a hard time getting enough protein from food, whey protein shakes can help.
Under maximum strength you can imagine the highest muscle contraction that your body can create. Often the term “one repetition maximum” is used in connection with maximum strength. This means the highest load that you can handle in one repetition. For example, the largest weight you would lift once with a clean technique in a basic exercise like the deadlift. The interaction between the muscles and your central nervous system is thus stressed and improved.
With strength endurance, you train with less weight and a high number of repetitions, which is in a range between 20 and 40 repetitions. The weight that you use for your endurance training is around 30 to 50 percent of your maximum strength. For example, if you can lift a maximum of 100 kg once during the deadlift, you can train this exercise with 30 kg in the strength endurance range. You don’t take your breaks between sets for more than a minute.
Strength endurance is the ability not to tire for as long as possible in long-lasting or repetitive physical activity. If you build strength endurance into your training plan, you have an additional break for your joints in addition to a new training stimulus. This is how they can recover from heavy weights. Even if you enjoy cycling, jogging or swimming, you will benefit from regular strength endurance training.
What is speed strength?
Quick strength is the ability of your muscles to generate the greatest possible force impulse within a short period of time. For example, if you have to perform quickly and intensely like sprinting.
Speed also includes the ability to accelerate an object with the highest possible final speed, for example when throwing or shot put. Speed is closely related to maximum strength. The greater your maximum strength, the more likely it is that you also have good speed strength. Why? Both strength skills are about providing high strength performance in the short term. This uses the same muscle fibers. But more on that later.
The explosive force is to be distinguished from this. It is measured using a force-time curve. The goal here is to perform a movement with force in the shortest possible time. A boxer wants to hit his opponent quickly and with a lot of force with one blow.
Another example to illustrate the difference between quick power and explosive power is sprinting. The explosive force wants the muscles of the sprinter to perform at their best in the shortest possible time. The focus of high-speed power is that the sprinter reaches the highest possible top speed, while time plays a smaller role here.
One type of quick power is reactive power. When do you need reactive power? For example, if you are doing an exercise like squat jump. First you crouch down deeply and push yourself up from the floor with force. While you are still crouching, your tendons and fibers are shortened. Energy is stored here. If you jump up, this energy is released. Thanks to reactive power, you can use the stored energy for your jump to get as high as possible.
Why is speed strength important?
Do you enjoy doing a certain sport? Maybe you play soccer or tennis in a club? Then speed strength is an important topic for you. In soccer, you need to be able to run or brake quickly to score a goal. The same principle applies to other ball sports. In soccer, the focus is particularly on the legs. While boxing requires speed in the arms to hit the opponent quickly and hard.
In everyday life, too, you need speed from time to time. For example, if you have to sprint quickly to get your bus. Or run or play with your children or little nephews.
As a hobby athlete, you are probably less concerned with speed strength. It also offers advantages in muscle building training. A well trained speed strength stands for a good cooperation between your nerves and muscles. This means intramuscular and intermuscular coordination.
Intramuscular coordination is the interaction of the individual muscle cells within a single muscle strand. The intermuscular coordination means the interaction of all muscle strands with one another. In addition, the central nervous system is trained to activate more muscle cells at the same time.
Result: Exercises are easier for you and you may be able to move higher weights better. In addition, you set new training stimuli with speed strength training and can thus overcome a training plateau.
How to improve speed strength
The goal of speed strength training is to improve the way your muscles work together. In this way, a complex sequence of movements that is carried out in a short time, such as throwing, is optimized. The greater the impulse to buy, the better your neuromuscular system is trained.
Depending on which strength you are training, different types of muscle fibers are used more than others. All muscle fiber types are present in your muscles, only their proportion varies from muscle to muscle and is different from person to person.
The white fibers are active during fast, explosive muscle work, such as in the case of maximum strength or rapid strength. You can achieve high levels of strength in the short term, but tire quickly. For this reason, long breaks are taken between exercises in maximum and high-speed strength training. In contrast, the red muscle fibers are used during endurance training and tire quite slowly.
The speed strength training methods can also include classic maximum strength training. Because the same muscle fibers are used here. With maximum strength, however, it must be noted that excessively high weights can put a lot of strain on your tendons and joints over the long term. One possibility would be to work with periodization and train the strength skills in the form of a cycle.
Another way to train your speed strength is so-called plyometric training. This is jumping strength training. You move dynamically in all possible directions: forwards, backwards, to the side and up and down. In addition to speed strength, you also train your coordination, maximum strength, jumping ability, stability, mobility and responsiveness.
Plyometric exercises activate your central nervous system and white muscle fibers. The training is based on the stretch-shortening cycle. This will stretch your muscles first, then shorten them quickly and explosively. When stretching, energy is stored so that when it is shortened, it is released. This includes, for example, the squat jumps, when you explosively push yourself up from a crouch and jump.
Speed strength workouts
For absolute beginners, speed strength training makes little sense. You need experience to know how to do an exercise correctly and a good muscular foundation to do it. The exercises that improve speed strength are mostly complex and advanced. Therefore, always do it with a clean technique.
Depending on where your focus is, you can concentrate more on your legs or arms. So it’s a good idea to add an exercise or two to your other workout routine. Important: Warm up thoroughly for at least 10 minutes before your training session!
In jumping squats you start in a deep crouch with your knees pointing slightly outwards. Your upper body is bent slightly forward. Your arms are stretched forward. Push yourself off the floor as hard as you can and use your arms to gain momentum. Jump up! Extend your hips forward in the air and your arms backward. Your entire body remains under tension.
After the jump, land gently on the ground. Slowly bounce off your knees and ankles and move smoothly into the next squat after landing. If that’s too easy for you, you can work with a raise and, for example, jump on a box. Depending on your level of ability, you can do 10 to 15 jumping squats for three rounds. Take a minute break in between.
Clapping Push Ups
This is a very demanding exercise and is more suitable for advanced or even professionals. Here you do a classic push-up first. In the starting position you are in normal push-ups. Bend your arms and bring your chest to the floor. Push yourself up explosively at the lowest point. As soon as your arms leave the floor, clap your hands together at the top point. Quickly open it again to catch yourself.
If the exercise is difficult for you, do it on your knees. Technology always comes first to minimize the risk of injury! See how many reps you can do and relax for 1 to 2 minutes between sets. Complete a total of three rounds.
Shift your weight onto your right leg and extend your right arm backwards. The left one touches the ground. The left leg is in the air and points backwards at an angle. Similar to a skater. Your standing leg is bent and your upper body is bent slightly forward. The back stays straight. Push yourself off the ground and jump to the side. Land on your left leg. Then switch straight to the other side.
Only jump back and forth as far and as fast as you can control the movement. Make sure that the surface is level and clean and that you have sturdy shoes so that you cannot slip. Depending on your level of ability, you can do this exercise for 30 to 45 seconds for three rounds. Pause for a minute between sets.
Summary: Speed Strength
- Speed strength is the ability of your muscles to generate the greatest possible force impulse within a short period of time.
- Speed strength helps you perform better in sports such as soccer, tennis, sprinting, throwing, boxing and many more.
- Depending on the sport and your goal, you can focus on your legs, arms or your entire body.
- All strength skills are interrelated and can help improve performance. Thus, you benefit from a change between speed strength, maximum strength, reactive strength and strength endurance during strength training and set new stimuli.
- Speed strength trains your intra- and inter-muscular coordination.
- Always warm up well before starting your speed strength training exercises.