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Speed (actually the lack of) might be the death of you

When weightlifting, there's going to be a million different cues, commands, and requests you get told by coaches and peers to make you better. There is, however, one request that is the Queen of the chessboard. This Queen works all ways and can usually fix more problems than hinder. That Queen is speed.

Speed is a beautiful thing and even better: lifting with speed while under control is one of the secrets that can make a lift great.

So, let's take a look into speed. Speed by definition is "rapidity in movement." It is assuming that there is constantly developing forward progress of velocity. In weightlifting, the speed developed by the athlete is both maintained and increased by how well the athlete can keep the "Object - Organism" union (aka: lifter + the bar unit) in tact through the stages of movement. Let a bar get away from you, and speed will slow down. Lack tension, and speed will decrease as you extend.

Some of the most common hacks to incorporate controlled speed in fixing a lift issue are the following:

  1. ISSUE: Athlete is not getting bar placement finalized overhead on jerks (split or power). It continues to not be driven into the right overhead position and fails to stack. FIX: Athlete most likely needs to move feet faster and keep feet closer to the earth. A lot of athletes like to jump and raise their feet into the air unnecessarily. These raised feet actually makes getting a base established take longer and causes the bar to come down before the base of the lift is even established and locked in

  2. ISSUE: Athlete is not able to finish extension violently and slows down at end of pull. FIX: Acceleration needs to be built up. So to extend and finish violently you need to HAVE speed already to make speed.

  3. ISSUE: Athlete is fatigued by the recovery in clean and that recovery is slow. FIX: Athlete needs to learn to catch timing of rebound and actively learn to engage their muscles to get out of the hole faste. This timing + speed will help legs work less as well as decrease the time under tension for a clean. Less time under tension equals more energy to spend on the jerk!

So the next time your athlete is having an issue with footwork or the end of the pull or in the recovery, simply look at the speed element. If the Speed Queen isn't her court, try using that simple concept to correct rather than blasting a bunch of technical cues their way and complicating matters.

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