Speed Improvement in Weightlifting

Improvement of different training qualities is the most intriguing part behind coaching (in my opinion).  I enjoy studying psychology behind training and motivation and technique and learning new movements but I truly enjoy analyzing the best way to improve various qualities at one time.  Such qualities might be: speed, strength, conditioning and skill.  It is important to analyze each quality, place a value upon each quality and the importance each modality has on the athlete’s success in their given sport.  


Everyone LOVES singling out qualities.  “Speed kills.” “Strength rules.” “Technique Rules Supremely Over Nearly Everyone (TRS-ONE).  Ok I made up the TRS-ONE.  Here is the ironic part.  These qualities all feed off one another.  Strength can improve speed, speed can improve strength, conditioning can improve technique, etc.  I specifically want to discuss speed.  Speed on the platform for an Olympic weightlifter, is considerably different when compared to speed development for an American football running back.  So, how would I improve speed in a weightlifter?


I like to improve speed by starting with the simplest movements and transitioning to the more difficult movements as each athlete ages in training.  This is mainly done because of the prior defense mechanisms made during adaptation to the simpler movements earlier in their career.  Below, I will provide three sections of speed movements that can improve a weightlifter and their ability to move heavy weights “fast.”


Beginner:

Box Jumps, Bar Squat and Jumps, Bounds


Intermediate:

Hurdle Hops, Speed Squats, Power snatches, Back Squats moderate intensity (no grinding the lift)


Advanced:

Depth Jumps into hurdle hops, Weighted Squat and Jumps, Power Snatches without foot movement, banded squats, rapid rep snatches/snatch triples done at 70% (catch, pause in hole, drive up fast), close grip snatch


Notes:

As the athlete ages with training, it becomes a little more difficult to train speed UNLESS it is addressed properly.  By using these tools and placing them in their training plan properly, you can continue to develop speed past their advanced level.  Speed certainly improves technique as it can ensure that the athlete can enter a position faster than they previously could achieve.  It is also important that the coach educates them on “fast” movements and where they need to be fast.  By cueing the individual properly, it makes it much easier to make “speed” gains on the platform!

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