Break Through a Workout Plateau with Speed Change Training

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One of the most heated debates in the world of weightlifting is centered around the speed at which you lift. Some say you should lift slow, some say you should lift fast. Some even say you should lift fast on the concentric and slow on the eccentric portions of the lift.

I’ve been on both sides of the fence over the years, but lately I’ve been using the following method to combine the benefits of slow and fast reps for results that surpassed anything I experienced with using just fast or slow methods.

The first thing to do is to select a weight that’s going to be challenging for both slow and fast rep sets. If you’re working with something like a rack of dumbbells, you can easily switch between two different weights, but for the most part you’re going to want to keep the weight the same. I’ve found that somewhere around a 12-15 max rep weight is ideal for this sort of training.

Next, we want to select the rep range for each speed. Since five slow reps will take more time than five fast reps, if you use the same rep range for both speeds, you’re going to find yourself spending more time on the slow speeds rather than the fast and things might feel a little off balance. I’ve found that five reps for slow reps and eight reps for fast is ideal for many people.

The last thing to select is the rest period between the sets. I like to keep things fast paced so I usually rest for about 20-30 seconds at most. Ultimately though, it’s not so much about how long the rest is as long as it’s consistent from one set to another. Since your speeds and tempo are going to be all over the place, it’s going to be hard to build some momentum, so it’s a good idea to keep your rest periods nice and consistent through the workout.

The workout itself is pretty simple. Your first set is done at one end of the spectrum, very slowly or as fast as you can go while still staying smooth and in control. After your planned rest, you then tackle a set on the other speed setting. The goal is to make each set feel like it’s the complete opposite of the one before it. There is no middle ground, either super slow and full of burn or super fast with lots of power. This is a great way to really throw your muscles some new stimulation and to make things a little more interesting as opposed to doing each set as a carbon copy of the one before it.

I often tell folks they should aim for however many sets their energy level allows for the day. You’ll probably find yourself doing 4-6 sets, but don’t feel the need to stay within those parameters. There really is no clear right or wrong way to set up this workout. As long as your speeds are going between the two extremes, you’ll definitely head into some new territory.

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About Author

Matt Schifferle

My name is Matt Schifferle and I'm an A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, CrossFit Level 1 coach, underground strength coach and I'm a 5th degree black belt in Taekwon-Do. I specialize in outdoor and playground based underground and CrossFit style bootcamps. See my profile page for more information!

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