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Speed and Strength

This is an excerpt from Developing Speed-2nd Edition by NSCA -National Strength & Conditioning Association & Ian Jeffreys.

Speed and strength share a unique relationship. We commonly think of speed training as a way to improve running speed or speed of movement. This is obviously true, but type of training results in other benefits as well:

  • Speed-based training improves the nervous system’s ability to activate muscle tissue through improvements in recruitment and rate coding. These neural adaptations develop speed but also result in increased power and strength levels (1).
  • Speed training produces very high levels of tension in muscles, tendons, and other tissues. The level of load applied to these tissues is high, often exceeding those that are achieved (or can be achieved) in a resistance training program. Many coaches and athletes engaged in regular resistance training have experienced the soreness that results from a sprint session. This is because the levels of tension and tissue load experienced in the sprint are sometimes greater than those experienced in the resistance training program. Speed training, in this way, drives strength improvements and may even result in levels of tissue load unreachable in a traditional resistance training program.

For these reasons, speed training should be viewed not only as a way to get faster but as a critical exercise that increases the effectiveness of other areas of the training program and reaches distant corners of strength development that cannot be reached otherwise. Coaching cultures have commonly viewed strength improvements as a route to speed acquisition, but the reverse is also true. These reasons also explain why speed development training could be very helpful to athletes in many sports, even those sports that do not contain a significant sprinting component.

More Excerpts From Developing Speed 2nd Edition