Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Speed Work or Rep Work?

We (myself and the other Q&A people on Elite Fitness) get lots of questions asked about speed work and rep work. It seems speed work became very popular about 8-10 years ago and now, you hear alot of people say they don't do it anymore. Why? What are they doing instead? And how do you know if you should be doing it or not?

Let me first say that alot of it is dependant on your level of experience and strength. Most beginners, whether you are a powerlifter or an athlete, will benefit from rep work. Rep work is great for building muscle and working on the technical aspect of the lifts. And rep work doesn't necessarily mean you are doing sets of 10 or 20. Repetition work can be sets of 5 at a certain weight.

Speed work will be more beneficial for the intermediate to advanced lifter (powerlifters and athletes alike). Speed work is typically done in sets of singles for deadlift, doubles for squats and triple or even fives for speed bench. Sets can be anywhere between 5-12 sets. Chains and bands can be added as well to accomodate resistance.

So, what does this mean for you? Maybe you are an intermediate powerlifter but you're still not sure if speed work is right for you. In my opinion, speed work is great leading up to a competition. Personally, I didn't do speed work for a few months (due to being at the end of my pregnancy, then post-baby). During that time frame, I did rep work. I replaced my speed bench with overhead pressing. At the time, I had no need to do speed work.

Now that I am back in competitive mode, I have noticed that my speed strength is slow. I've put on a bench shirt a few times and have noticed that I just don't have the speed I used to. Even with my raw work. So, it's back to speed work for awhile. If you're not competitive, you can switch between speed work and repetition work, doing 3 weeks of each.

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