What is Speed Strength? – Garage Strength

What is Speed Strength?

Speed strength is an abstract term. You will hear people say speed strength is moving heavy weight fast. You will hear people say moving an absolute strength-oriented load as fast as possible is speed strength as well. You need to see the blended line between speed strength and strength speed.

Understand that .95 to 2+ meters per second is speed strength. If you are under that movement velocity, that is strength speed. You are probably thinking, “I don’t have a velocity unit.” Not a problem.

You can use percentages that can be used based on research that has been done at Garage Strength so you can improve your speed strength to move heavyweight fast. And moving heavy weight fast leads to the best transfer in the competitive world.

Speed strength is developed on impulse days, which can be found in Peak Strength, so let's take a look at what those are. 

Impulse Day

In a powerlifting program, the weights you would use for speed strength will be done on a dynamic day. 

You need to think about it as an impulse day to be more effective. You need to think about producing a large amount of force in a short period, just like in sports. 

For every movement to be discussed, you will be given percentages to use on an impulse day to best improve speed strength and dominate in the world of sports performance.

Upper Body

A great movement for you to use for your upper body when dealing with speed strength is the behind-the-neck push press. A benefit of speed strength is that you do not need to use a rack but must have a strong eccentric.

Through research, you want the speed from a behind-the-neck push press to be about 2 meters per second for speed strength. The weight used will be around 75-80% of your max. 

A second upper body exercise is the PA barbell press. Focusing on speed strength, you want to do the PA barbell press at 50-70% of your max push press. You want to have hip drive coupled with dynamic trunk control to move the weight at around 2 meters per second.

speed strength

Technical Coordination

Speed strength can be used during drop sets as well. Speed strength qualities are based on rapid rates of coordination. You will find you develop a greater sense of proprioception because you become more aware of your body control. Being more aware of your body control will lead to greater impulse. You can recruit motor units faster to produce more force in a shorter period. 

The first key exercise is a muscle snatch or power snatch. If you are a non-weightlifter, a person who doesn’t compete using the snatch, you can use a muscle snatch or power snatch to see how you are feeling on that day. Both are easier movements to wake up the nervous system.

As a field athlete, you need speed strength, absolute strength, hypertrophic muscles, execute plyometrics, run fast, and execute reflective strength movements. Weightlifting movements carry over well to all qualities of strength. Technical coordination movements transfer very well. 

In training a power snatch, you want the barbell weight to move over 2 meters per second. That means you need to be using 60-75% for doubles.

If you need more speed strength, you may be absurdly strong in a traditional sense. Think of having a massive bench press or back squat but struggle to do hurdle hops or power cleans with speed. If that is you, the goal needs to be to transfer the absolute strength numbers into more speed strength numbers.

If you have a huge deficit between your 5 rep back squat and 1 rep back squat, the numbers being close, you may have a dead nervous system. Training in the speed strength realm will help develop an overall rate of coordination.

The next technical coordination movement to train speed strength is a power clean or full clean. A speed strength clean might be hit at 1.7 meters per second. The whole goal with speed-strength athletes is to elevate the weight being hit at 1.7 meters per second. The percentage is around 80-83%. 

The goal is to develop a baseline absolute strength number to pull up the speed strength numbers for speed strength athletes. The higher you can push the weight, the more it becomes about moving heavy weight fast. Moving 140 kilos in a clean that fast teaches you how to absorb a large amount of energy in the eccentric load. That catch creates an impulse performance to transfer to the sports performance world.

Single-Leg Squats

Warm up with a lighter load on single-leg squats to feel as twitchy as possible. The speed you want to see is .9 to 1.2 meters per second.

Potentiating the body with heavier weights being moved at .7 meters per second allows you to hold .9 to 1 meter per second during drop sets. The percentage that can be used is around 80 to 85% if you feel rigid and have solid trunk control. It is key you focus on a rapid rate of coordination because the unilateral position transfers phenomenally to the competitive environment.

Nick Singleton is a great example of an athlete with crazy fast, and heavy, single leg squat!

Bench Press

Benching around .9 to 1.2 meters per second is where you will see the speed strength realm. 

Often it is good to build up to a weight that is being moved at .4 meters per second before dropping to a weight that can be moved at .9 to 1 meter per second, you will see some serious speed strength recruitment with your pressing.

With speed strength training you are trying to hack or trick the nervous system as well as you possibly can. Using a balance pad helps accomplish such a task. Putting a balance pad under your shirt will allow you to have a fast eccentric to lead to a big drive. You will have a higher motor unit recruitment. You will also have a unique stretch-shortening cycle which will help trigger your muscle spindles to recruit more high threshold motor units. You can train speed strength with a balance pad at a heavier load, around 80 to 85% of your max at around 2 meters per second. 

By the way, you can purchase a foam balance pad right here

Without the balance pad, you will be around 65 to 73% of your max. 


Speed strength carries over the best to sports performance. Speed strength also carries your absolute strength onto the field.  

When you are training speed strength without a velocity-based tool, you can use all the percentages provided above. The key is to move heavy weight fast. For a program that will help build speed strength specific to your sport or goal, sign up for the Peak Strength app and get a week of free training so you can be FAST AF! 


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