MAXIMUM STRENGTH, MAXIMUM SPEED
SINGLE JOINT EXERCISES
TIPS AND TRICKS
MAXIMUM STRENGTH MAXIMUM SPEED
The words spoken by that gruff male voice (or female
one if thats what I happen to fancy) have been
ringing in my ears since playing Crysis. The voice of
course comes from the nano-suit the protagonist wears.
Ive wondered in the future once the technology
becomes available will we all be wearing something similar.
What could people achieve with such devices with their
Well we are 30 or 40 years from such technology from
becoming available! So we humans have to make do with
our own bodies and our capacities for maximum strength
and maximum speed. Well the worlds strongest man
is Phil Pfister and the worlds fastest is Asafa Powell,
I'd be willing to bet Asafa isnt gym shy and Pfister
isn't that slow, but ultimately we want the best of
In all sports it's well recognised that being strong
and fast reaps huge benefits. Traceurs and free-runners
are being increasing seen as some of the worlds
most supreme athletes with the right training focus
they could be even faster, stronger and injury free
(being strong helps prevent injury). Strength and speed
make movement seem effortless. Simply put who does not
want to maximise their strength and speed? Or you could
wait for a nanosuit.
strength may not be the determining factor in parkour
performance but it does have real value. It provides
the foundation for power and speed development and this
is very important.
It is this power that can present the athlete with the
option of making an explosive break, to move at high
speeds in order to generate moment for longer and higher
jumps. Max strength also plays a huge role in deceleration
As defined by strength expert Yuri Verkhoshansky, explosive
strength consists of three important components:
Maximum strength can be increased by lifting heavy
loads for multiple, low-repetition sets. The strength
recorded 30 ms after the start of a muscle action.
Acceleration (speed) strength is the ability
to generate maximum force very quickly. By getting stronger,
we are able to work longer and harder in developing
our skills in practice. It can help us to create more
power (speed X's time) in each of our sprint / running
strokes and therefore increase our speed output. And
we can actually improve our flexibility and mobility,
which is so critical to mastery of technique. In addition,
flexibility is an insurance package against sustaining
a possible injury. Ill be writing a flexibility
and mobility guide very very soon!
Physics tells us that for every action there is an equal
and opposite reaction. Transferring this concept to
sprinting simply means that the more force we apply
to the ground as we put our foot down in a running motion
or jumping motion, the more force will be returned to
us in the form of energy to propel us down the track
or playing field, street, rooftop. However, if we lose
sight of the fact that we need to develop our sprinting
technique and overall flexibility, then the strength
we gain in the weight room will be for naught.
It is therefore important to include these latter aspects
into your entire strength training programs. As an athlete,
you are always in the weight room as a means to an end.
Weight training as an athlete is NOT an end all in itself.
The reasoning here is if you only train for increased
strength, without ever paying attention to how fast
youre moving the weight, you may get very strong,
but not necessarily faster or more explosive. You have
great maximum strength but you cant express it
fast enough. This is why, in general, powerlifters cant
jump as high as Olympic weightlifters. Too many powerlifters
train using heavy weights, which move slowly, all year
Instead of always trying to lift more than their friends
do, powerlifters should spend some time trying to lift
faster than their peers. The bottom line is if no speed
work is done, you will end up with a strong, slow athlete.
On the other hand, if you only train for speed and never
increase your maximal strength, you will not have enough
of a strength base to develop explosive power. Maximum
strength determines your potential for explosive strength
because there is a greater pool of muscles fibers that
can be adapted to the job.
So you if want to be fast and strong the answer is pretty
Train for both maximal strength and speed simultaneously
in your training cycle!
The following program is designed so that on Day One and
Day Three your main exercise is designed to increase your
max strength. On Day One Heavy weights will be used and
the weights will move slowly. On Day Three, your main
lift will be dynamic/hypertrophic (speed/muscular) growth
Two other days of the week will be devoted to speed training,
one straight line (linear) speed day. Straight line speed
is all well and good but an old adage tells us never
ask a sprinter for tips on being faster. Why? Because
they dont have to change direction so we need to
add one change of direction speed day.
is the increase of the size of an organ or in a select
area of the tissue. It should be distinguished from hyperplasia
which occurs due to cell division increasing the number
of cells while their size stays the same; hypertrophy
occurs due to an increase in the size of cells, while
the number stays the same.
Line (Linear) Speed Day
of direction Speed Day
Choose six exercises per session, four of the six must
be compound exercises*.
*Compound exercises move the
body through more than one joint movement, while isolation
exercises only move the body through a single-joint
movement. Probably the best exercise to demonstrate
the difference is the barbell squat. This "king"
of all compound exercises moves your body using a majority
of your muscle groups and bends you at your ankles,
knees, waist, hips, and to some degree, even your shoulders.
Compare this to an isolation exercise such as leg entensions,
which only moves your body by bending one joint...the
lifting you should be aiming for 3 sets of 5 reps. There
will be two lifting days heavy and hypertrophy/speed
On heavy day the weight should be heavy enough for 5
RM is enough illicit great strength gains, but not so
heavy each set becomes a fight for survival.
On light day focus on 6-10 reps 3-4 sets lifting/moving
as fast as possible, be honest with yourself and always
ask could I be doing this faster?
(Body weight exercises are noted in blue)
flat, decline barbell or dumbbell bench presses.
dips. Power pushups (push up as fast as possible).
over rows, lat pull downs.
or pulldowns with pronated (palms down grip),
semi-supinated (palms facing each other),
and supinated grips (palms facing you grip).
Fat man rows.
or seated military presses with a barbell or dumbbells
utilizing pronated, semi-supinated or supinated
full barbell squats, hack squats or front squats.
Body weight lunges.
and/or sumo-style deadlifts or Good Mornings. Power
cleans or snatches.
Ham raises, Glute raises.
(Body weight exercises are noted in blue)
curls, hammer curls or preacher curls.
grip pull ups (biceps focus).
barbell or dumbbell triceps extensions, and pronated
or supinated grip pressdowns.
side or rear dumbbell raises.
raises or leg curls.
seated or donkey calf raises.
Linear Speed day, the focus here is on straight
line speed and power.
HOPS OR HIGH BOX JUMPS
3 sets of 3 jumps. Rest one minute between sets.
OR UNLOADED 20 METER SPRINTS
either a weighted vest or sled. Perform 6 weighted
or unweighted 20 meter sprints. Rest 30 seconds
added weight. Perform four 20 meter sprints, rest
30 seconds between sprints. After the last sprint,
rest one minute then perform three 30 yard sprints.
Rest the amount of time it takes you to walk back
to the start line. After the last 30 yard sprint,
rest one minute then perform two 40 meter sprints.
Rest two minutes between the 40 meter sprints.
seated or donkey calf raises.
Change of direction Speed day, the focus here is
changing direction quickly.
place a marker at 10m, 20m and 30m. Run to the 10m
mark first, touching the floor and running back
to the start line. Then run to the 20m line and
back. Finally run to the 30m line and back. Start
the routine again and repeat four times. You can
time yourself to measure improvement.
this drill you need 8 markers to form the shape
below. As you can see you sprint to first marker
back down slalom through he middle up and back and
sprint up to the last marker and then to the finish.
3-5 sets as fast as possible trying to get under
25 seconds in one set. Under 25 seconds would be
average, under 20 good and under 17 would be excellent.
wraps up the training program, with this program I recommend
following it for 4-8 weeks then switching to something
else, sprint training really taxes the nervous system
The workout is pretty straight forwards and the weight
training is flexible enough for you to adapt to any needs
you may have in terms of strength and injury prevention.
Tips and tricks for improving speed and strength.
There are things we can do to get a little more out of
ourselves in terms of strength and speed, many of these
things are utilised by elite athletes to get that extra
few percent out of themselves. I selected varieties that
are easiest to do and use without any specialist equipment
and not too much effort.
In the gym...
Co-contraction (the simultaneous activation of antagonist
muscles around a joint) provides the nervous system with
a way to adapt the mechanical properties of the limb to
changing task requirements both in statics and during
Basically this means that by contracting both the flexing
and extending muscles during a moment we can improve control
Examples would be keeping the muscles around the shoulder
blades tense when doing push ups or bench pressing. Or
contracting both quads and hamstrings when landing. This
allows us to add stabilisation and control to heavy lifting
and bodyweight movements.
Benefits : Improved stability and control
Negatives : Uses a lot of energy
Post Activation Potentiation
Post-activation potentiation is one of the most effective
maximal strength building methods I've ever come across.
Not only will it cause immediate increases in maximal
strength, but it can also be a great tool for building
more muscle since you'll be able to recruit more motor
It works by lifting very, very heavy, this fires up the
nervous system and allows to it call on more strength
for the next movement.
Research has shown that 5-10 seconds of maximal effort
invokes the greatest level of potentiation while minimizing
fatigue. So for this you might try adding weight for a
pull up that you can only move for 1 rep, get some assistance
to get to the top and hold for 5-10 seconds, rest 90 seconds
between reps for 4 sets, then do your regular pull-ups
Benefits: Visible increases in strength
Negatives: Working with such heavy weight always
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that plays
a role in maintaining and restoring energy levels during
sprint type activities. In humans, approximately half
of stored creatine originates from food (mainly from
fresh meat and fish). We can supplement it with monohydrate
powder. What youll see if improved recovery from
short intense activities like sprinting and lifting
Benefits: Improved power, recovery from sprint
type work Negatives: May gain a little water
weight (disappear when you stop taking)
Foot wear and tighter clothes
This one is a no brainer, footwear with good grip will
give you more traction which will in turn help you run
faster and break quicker. Wearing to baggy clothes will
act like a sail when moving quickly it will create more
air resistance and slow you down.
Its no wonder sprinters wear such tight fitting
running gear (although i dont recommend you go
that far). Nike pro/under armour and other compression
shirts are a great example of clothing that would be
useful for reducing drag.
The contrast shower is a simple and convenient way to
stimulate vitality and promote detoxification, as well
as treat generalized areas of pain and soreness.
The idea is simple: alternating between hot and cold
water while you are showering to stimulate your body
to heat itself up and cool itself down, in order to
compensate. This temperature contrast helps strengthen
and normalize the nervous, circulatory, endocrine (hormonal),
musculoskeletal and immune systems and is excellent
for helping the body cope with physiological and psychological
After your normal hot shower, gradually turn down the
hot water until the shower is pleasantly cool and rinse
your whole body under the cooler water for about 30
seconds. If you have localized areas of pain or soreness
you can focus the shower stream on those areas.
Next, switch the shower back to hot to rewarm your body
for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat the cycle 3-5 times
and end with cool.
It is important that the hot phase is longer than the
cold, and that you finish with cool water.
Now its time to utilize this program and these
methods and be the strongest and fastest youve
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