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Olympic lifts for speed training

Posted by: PFB

Q: I train a what is basically a "fit and tone gym." I train in the mornings when the personal trainers in the gym are out in full force. They criticize and ridicule me because I do front squats (they don't have proper rack so I have to clean the squat weight), squat cleans, power cleans, clean and press, free weight hack squats, the snatch (with light weight, though, I use this for a speed workout). Basically, they don't like that I do full squats and the fast lifts. They are telling all of the people at my gym I'm an idiot. Am I?

A: Here's what you do. Buy "Skippy B. Trainer" a plane ticket to Columbus, OH. Send him to the Westside Barbell club where some of the strongest lifters in the world train and perform light/speed work twice every week. Tell Skippy to call these guys idiots and you won't have to worry about seeing his ugly mug ever again! Lifters must often train explosively with free weights to build the type of strength necessary for developing a muscular system that functions outside of the "seated abductor chrome and fern" crowd. You must build explosive strength to train the muscles to more readily activate the higher threshold motor units which is important for activities such as max squatting and jumping the fence in your girlfriend's backyard when he father comes home a little too early one night! Yes you are doing the right thing, just make sure your fast squats are only explosive during the concentric (lifting) phase, otherwise, joint damage could easily occur if you are fast on the eccentric phase and try to reverse the motion too quickly. A good tempo for speed squats is 30X0, which translates to a 3s lowering phase, no pause, lifting as quickly as possible, no pause at the top. Your training load for fast squats and Olympic lifts should be around 60% of your "raw" 1RM.

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