• Why Speed Work Doesn't Work - By Mike Tuchscherer (PDF version)

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      So this article is about why speed work doesn't work -- at least not for the reasons you think it does. Iím sure this article will make some people rejoice and make other people pretty upset. And for myself, since I rarely write articles that get such a divided response, Iíve gone over this quite a few times just to double check and make sure Iím not saying anything crazy.
      My claim: It's my professional opinion that ďspeed workĒ is not the optimal method for developing maximal force, particularly for trained powerlifters. Letís stop there as this will give us plenty to talk about....

      Speed Work Defined
      For now, letís define speed work as anything under a 7 RPE. If you complete a set and you could have done 5 or more reps, it counts as speed work. If you're doing doubles or triples with less than 75%, it probably counts. If you're doing singles with less than 85%, it probably counts. If this is just a warm-up to your heavier work, then it probably doesnít count as speed work.

      Just for the sake of clarity, Iíd say those percentages are bottom-tension percentages of a 1RM in whatever lift it is that youíre doing. Usually peak force is at the bottom of a lift like the squat or bench, so this seems to be the most relevant number. Also for the record, I tend to place more value on the RPE than the percentage, but I figured Iíd put percentages up as guidelines since a lot of you donít use RPE yet. ...more
      Comments 11 Comments
      1. sparkskk's Avatar
        sparkskk -
        Attachment 568
        Careful now!
      1. Johno's Avatar
        Johno -
        Quote Originally Posted by sparkskk View Post
        Attachment 568
        Careful now!
        Haha, not sure the 'mericans will get that!
      1. ChadHydro's Avatar
        ChadHydro -
        Nope, over my head
      1. sparkskk's Avatar
        sparkskk -
        Sorry, I wasn't trying to derail the thread.

        The article is every bit as good now as when it first caused a sh!t storm on Juggernaut last year. Of course, if you read the article objectively, then there's no need for anyone to get hysterical.

        (The image was from a famous episode of an English/Irish comedy series about 3 priests living on a remote island in Ireland. Father Ted | Down with This Sort of Thing | ChannÖ: )
      1. Tony Arakkal's Avatar
        Tony Arakkal -
        Ok. I am curious. What about for deadlifts?

        http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems...ckout-(Part-2)
      1. Dan Lee's Avatar
        Dan Lee -
        Damnit guys!
        Not this again!

        >tfw
        Attachment 569

        http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems...Not-This-Again!
      1. chris_ottawa's Avatar
        chris_ottawa -
        There are different way of doing speed work, and as everyone know it's Westside Barbell that made it as popular as it is today. It's true that Louie's articles don't all add up to the same story, but, like any intelligent coach, his methods evolve over time. This is an excerpt of an article (http://syattfitness.com/athletic-per...a-users-guide/) by Jordan Syatt, a 5x IPA world record holder who happen to be "Westside Barbell Certified":

        Perform each and every repetition as fast and explosively as possible
        • Take :30 – :60 seconds (maximum) between sets
        • Perform the prescribed number of sets/reps at the appropriate percentage of your 1RM:

        Dynamic Effort Squat:
        1. Geared Lifters: 10-12 sets of 2 reps at 40-60% 1RM
        2. Raw Lifters: 10-12 sets of 2 reps at 70-85% 1RM

        Dynamic Effort Deadlift:
        1. All Lifters: 6-10 sets of 1-3 reps at 60-85% 1RM

        Dynamic Effort Bench:
        1. All Lifters: 9 x 3 repetitions at 50% 1RM

        Battling Accommodation through Accommodating Resistance

        The use of accommodating resistance such as bands, chains, weight releasers, and different specialty bars is one of the key components to Westside’s success. Using these varying tools as added resistance allows one to incorporate more variations into their training while simultaneously targeting specific weak-points. Unfortunately, explaining how to use/set up these forms of accommodating resistance is well beyond the scope of this article. Since the majority of you have insufficient means to use bands, chains, weight releasers, or specialty bars (i.e. don’t train at a powerlifting gym), in addition to the fact that this article is already atrociously long, I’ve made the executive decision to stress the importance of accommodating resistance but exclude explicit directions on how to use them. You can be sure a future article will cover this topic in detail.

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        So, assuming that there is no more than a 60 sec. break between sets, is it not possible that force production would be maximized in the final sets? Also considering that accomodating resistance would be used, are the weights really too light?

        DISCLAIMER: I do not, have not, and have no plans to train using dynamic effort training or anything related to Westside Barbell. I just don't see how a major part of their training system could be completely useless yet they still get the results thaat they do. If speed is not really necessary for powerlifting then what is it about the DE method that contributes to their success?
      1. Mike Tuchscherer's Avatar
        Mike Tuchscherer -
        A repost just in time for the holidays...

        Chris, thanks for the thoughtful reply.
        <<So, assuming that there is no more than a 60 sec. break between sets, is it not possible that force production would be maximized in the final sets? Also considering that accomodating resistance would be used, are the weights really too light?>>
        I suppose it's possible. You could manipulate the other variables so that it's a better tool. Especially if bands/chains are involved. I also can't speak to what's done "at Westside". But I can speak to the way I see many people using the method. So maybe they're misusing it, right? If I write an article (or many articles) and explain a concept, then tons of people misunderstand the concept and misapply it to their training (training with weights that are too light), then wouldn't I write some clarifying information? It doesn't seem like that was done until people started questioning the explanation in a more public way.

        <<
        I just don't see how a major part of their training system could be completely useless yet they still get the results thaat they do.>>
        I'm not saying it's completely useless. The subtext of the article is that speed work doesn't do what you think it does. But it's still technique practice (even if poorly transferred). It's still volume (even if moderate to low). But what you're asking is why they have so much success with it AT WESTSIDE. To know that, we'd need to know a lot more about what they actually do there, not just what they write in their articles. I've heard all kinds of stories, but with confounding variables such as gear, bands/chains, and "working up" at the end of the DE work (not to mention drugs), it seems to me that those variables could be arranged so that it was more useful. But I think it's telling that since 1) Raw has become more and more popular and 2) there is more open questioning of WSB methods that the percentages recommended for DE work for raw lifters has gone up. Now it's even as high as 85% in some recommendations which is much more in line with what other coaches have recommended all along.
      1. j2917's Avatar
        j2917 -
        I'm confused about semantics on this discussion. After also reading http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems...Not-This-Again, is "speed work" synonymous with what is typically called "power", e.g. if one was dividing their training into hypertrophy/power/strength? I was thinking of it as hypertrophy = muscle growth, power = explosiveness (or speed), strength = absolute strength. I get that they aren't mutually exclusive, but I'm just trying to categorize to help my brain digest it. Am I on the right track here?

        Also, am I understanding you correctly, Mike, that training "power" specifically (by emphasizing speed work) is not optimal for powerlifters, but would be more appropriate for those training for other sports? I'm thinking of football players, for instance, training the power clean, etc.

        For powerlifting specific purposes, if I was organizing my training using a DUP template similar to Mike Z.'s H/P/S concept, would replacing the "power" day with a "technique" or "weakness" day be more appropriate? In other words, on "power" day, train a leverage-disadvantaged variation of the main lift like pause/pin squats/bench to address weaknesses?

        Hopefully this was a somewhat intelligible/relevant question(s)...
      1. Mike Tuchscherer's Avatar
        Mike Tuchscherer -
        is "speed work" synonymous with what is typically called "power"
        Yes, to an extent. I described speed work very carefully in that article. It's basically very light, low RPE work that focuses on speed. So doing singles at 80% would fit my definition.

        training "power" specifically (by emphasizing speed work) is not optimal for powerlifters, but would be more appropriate for those training for other sports?
        Yes, exactly.

        would replacing the "power" day with a "technique" or "weakness" day be more appropriate?
        IMO, that would be the ideal time to include weakness correction work. I know Dr. Zourdos doesn't favor it, and that's fine. But it's also worth pointing out that he has said the purpose of the "power" day is NOT specifically to develop power. The reason it benefits powerlifters is because it 1) increases your frequency and volume and 2) gives you more practice -- i.e. technique work.
      1. j2917's Avatar
        j2917 -
        Quote Originally Posted by Mike Tuchscherer View Post
        IMO, that would be the ideal time to include weakness correction work.
        That's how I have my "power" day setup currently. After reading Mike's dissertation and watching the DUP video, it made sense for best recovery leading into "strength" day.

        Quote Originally Posted by Mike Tuchscherer View Post
        I know Dr. Zourdos doesn't favor it, and that's fine. But it's also worth pointing out that he has said the purpose of the "power" day is NOT specifically to develop power. The reason it benefits powerlifters is because it 1) increases your frequency and volume and 2) gives you more practice -- i.e. technique work.
        Ha, yes, I caught how he took a jab at you in the DUP video about frequency of the lifts not counting if you're doing variants. I propose an arm wrestling match between the two of you to settle it once for all...