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If you have spent some time working with a strength & Conditioning coach or fitness specialist. You may have heard of the terms Strength-Speed and Speed-Strength. These terms can be confusing as they do sound the same, however they both bring a different stimulus to the party and its worth having a quick read to help you understand the terms going forward.

Strength – Speed

The first term, Strength-Speed refers to moving relatively heavy loads as fast as you can, the typical speed targets to develop this should be from 0,7 to 1,0 m/s. An example of Strength-Speed would be the functionality of the front row in rugby when pushing in a scrum. There is a Strength constraint on a heavy load and there is a speed goal trying to move the resistance at very high speeds.

In very simple terms, strength speed is a type of contraction in which load, or weight is moved very quickly.

To express strength-speed effectively, repetition of pure force generation in the form of absolute strength is necessary. Developing motor control to express force effectively through a lower speed of movement, allows for the full expression of strength-speed.

Therefore, strength speed training is only applicable to those who can produce power. To produce power, a person must be able to produce force ie. moving a mass with acceleration.

A prerequisite tool which you can use to assess strength speed implementation is absolute strength. The below tests can determine whether an athlete is “able” to produce strength-speed:

  1. Back squat @ body weight for 3 reps at a 3-0-1-1 tempo (3 seconds down, no pause in the bottom, fast up, 1 second rest at the top for all reps)

  2. Deadlift @ 1.25 times body weight for 3 reps at 3-0-1-1 tempo


In Speed-Strength the priorities are switched. The term refers to moving at very high speed with the maximum load possible. You can develop speed-strength by training at lower percentages of 1RM and moving it at 1 to 1.3 m/s. A typical display of Speed-Strength is Olympic Weightlifting and throwing movements like shot put or hammer throwing. You will, however, need to consider a valid speed constraint whilst training speed-strength. An example of this would be during a snatch as it is very difficult to make it under the barbell if it moves slower than 1m/s.

​From reading this short article, you now know the difference between Strength-Speed where the goal is to move maximal loads as fast possible. Compared to Speed-Strength where the goal is to move at very high speed with the maximum load possible (+ 1m/s).

However, you now may ask yourself “how do I track my bar speed in the gym?” Well, that’s simple due to the technology that is on offer to athletes nowadays. There are 3 main types of bar velocity trackers on the market.

These are:

- Wire Attachment

- Bar embedded

- Wearable

If you have a quick search online you will be able to look at various options to track your lifting speed and determine whether you are hitting the required speeds for the desired movements.

Jordan Kerman BSc (Hons), MSc (Hons) BBCO Performance Director

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