Gym Strength versus Game Speed

The best thing you can do for your sport is improve speed. Whether you run marathons or play rugby, getting faster will result in a better performance and more victories! But a common mistake in training programs is the lack of focus on game speed.


To turn yourself into a FREAK athlete you need to be strong AND fast. It doesn’t matter how much you bench when you’re the slowest guy on the field. So we need to focus on building game speed. This is done through lifting HEAVY weights in the BIG exercises (squat, deadlift, power clean, bench, pull-ups etc.).


This is where a lot of athletes/coaches go wrong; after they’ve trained heavy in a few solid exercises they either stop and go home or continue with extra worthless exercises. The following points must be satisfied in any program:


  • Total recovery must occur between workouts
  • Strength must increase every workout
  • After strength, the next important component of fitness must be trained too (e.g. strength + speed, strength + aerobic endurance, strength + power)


Which means that:


  • Don’t waste recovery ability with useless exercises/workouts
  • Train for strength every workout
  • Improve another quality needed for your sport in each workout


With that said, when training for game speed we must satisfy all of the above points. So lift heavy in a big exercise for multiple sets of 1-5 reps for a total of 10 quality heavy reps excluding warm-ups. Then move on to speed work. This is not as difficult as it may appear; to get better at running fast, practise running fast!


Yep, all you have to do is run multiple short sprints following your strength work and you’ll get super quick! I prefer training the 10m sprint with my athletes as the transfer of speed will carryover 100% to any longer distances, but it’s such a short distance that full recovery between workouts is achievable.


It requires great self control to do less work in the gym, but the results will often speak for themselves. 2 sets of 5 reps in the deadlift plus 5 x 10m sprints for 5 days a week is a good example of a ‘less is more’ type training plan. Two days a week of the same exercises but using 3 sets of 3 reps plus 8 x 10m sprints is an even more abbreviated plan that will get great results.


Training is not complicated. It’s our inner desires for bigger arms and world record breaking bench presses that’s the problem. So this week I want you to evaluate your program with the following question; Is this exercise necessary to either get stronger or faster for my sport? If it’s a no then drop the exercise, go home and recover.

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