• Fill out the form below and I'll send you my online DVD, The Quickness Chronicles, absolutely free.

5 Keys When Lifting For Speed

By Alex On August 28, 2009 Under Speed Agility Training Drills

I know I said I’ll be back on Thursday, but I just made a short move and was without Internet for a while…

…well, I’m back now (and with a vengenance!).

On Monday, we talked about the giant myth that lifting weights will slow you down. We very simply and sufficiently went over why lifting weights will actually make you faster.

Today, I want to go over 5 key things you need to keep in mind and focus on as you begin your new weight-training program (or as you continue your current one). Read these closely and as you do, try and pinpoint exactly how you can apply these key points in your training:

1. Relative Strength Is Key

Relative strength is basically how strong you are “relative” to your bodyweight. And if the amount of force you can voluntarily put out (aka your strength) increases while your body weight doesn’t or only goes up a little, then your relative strength has just improved, and so long as your feet and plantar flexors are up to par, you just got faster.

A lot of “experts” will tell you the only way to improve relative strength is to lift maximal weights in the 1-5 rep range, but don’t delve too far into minutia like that. Just get stronger and don’t get fat!

2. Progression

In your training, you have got to be focusing on making progress in your lifts. Whether it’s by lifting more weight, doing more reps with the same weight, doing more total sets or decreasing rest periods, you need to be sure you’re constantly challening yourself and your body, forcing it to adapt a little bit more each time.

3. Compount, Multi-Joint Movements Are King

When you’re picking the exercises you’re going to be using, focus on picking a few big, main lifts to progress on. Some examples of my favorite compound movements are:

* Deadlifts (Normal, Romanian, Trap-Bar)

* Bench Press

* Bulgarian Split Squats

* Chin-Ups

* Rows

* DB Overhead Press

* Tons of other great ones

4. Stick With The Same Movements (at least for a while)

When you pick your exercises, don’t just pick them for one workout and then the next time around, do completely different ones. Pick a few solid exercises, and use them exclusively for the next 4 weeks. Get stronger and progress on just those exercises.

There’s something really boring called “intermuscular coordination”, that basically just means that the more you do a certain lift or exercise, you’re muscles become more coordinated at it and because you actually get “better” at the lift, you’re able to lift more weight with it (that means you’re stronger at it!). So, again, pick a few solid movements and stick with those.

5. Have Fun With It

Don’t let this whole training thing consume your life. Besides all of the physiological pitfalls of always thinking, worrying and stressing about training, it’s just not smart to be concerned about training 24/7.

When I was a competing athlete, I spent every waking (and sleeping) hour thinking about my sport, my training and everything in between. It was draining, and it eventually lead to me quitting my sport altogether (while I was still competing in it collegiately).

Be balanced and have a life outside of sport, it’ll make your time IN your sport that much more fun.

Those are just 5 of the most important principles to keep in mind as you get stronger (and in turn, a heck of a lot quicker and faster).

NOW, I want you to head down to the comments section really quickly and tell me which of these principles you’re slacking on right now and exactly how YOU are going to fix it. At least ten comments and I’ll be back on Monday with some really special content for the blog (you’re gonna love what I have in store).

Also, one of my good friends and an awesome strength coach in his own right, Zach Even-Esh is having a massive 50% off blowout sale on his entire Underground Strength System (just for his daughter, it’s her 3rd birthday!). I’ve been through it, used a lot of the crazy stuff in it with great success and think you might enjoy it too. Check it out:

Not-Your-Normal-Strength-Training-Routine ==> Zach Even-Esh’s Ultimate Birthday Sale

Talk to you in the comments section,


15 comments - add yours
Neil Wilson

August 28, 2009

I think you’ve nailed it with regard to getting some good ‘basics’ information out there. I find that too often people want to be dazzled and the trainers are forced to provide that dazzle to maintain business. I am loving #4. Basics, Basics, Basics!!! Get that done right and you will see results.

Your friend in SAQ from Canada


August 28, 2009

I think my biggest issue is number 4. I can never stay consistent with certain moves. I’m always trying something new or short on time so I’ll do a superset instead of my normal routine etc. etc.

I’m thinking I need to come up with a basic routine and include in it one exercise that I can change out. That way I can experiment but still hit all the big muscle groups.

andrew darqui

August 28, 2009

im slacking on #5 ;]

though I have fun with training, I am totally obsessed with it.


Mohammed Akif

August 28, 2009

I’m with Adarqui. You gotta realize for some people training, thinking about it, doing it, getting better, all that stuff is in a way, damn exciting 🙂 I just can’t seem to go out with friends when I can go out with my basketball cause I’d feel guilty if I was at the theaters cause of that saying, “somebody else out there is bustin their ass when you’re not.” If anything, my balance might be relaxing by playing NBA 2K9 (and soon, 2K10) 😀 I felt burnt out at one point, but it was more physical than mental.

Btw, Alex, do you have a core workout you recommend for basketball players that I can do at home following my weight training @ the gym? I’ve found one made by Alan Stein that I’ll forward to you so you can let me know what you think about it. 😀


August 28, 2009

First I just want to say good article Alex.I look up to you and love what you are doing.

I only have one question. Why is it that you included Bulgarian split squats in the “compound” lifts section, but left out squats? Bulgarian split squats are not a compound movement, but more of a advanced exercise for advanced-elite athletes.

In my opinion the single most effective exercise for measuring and increasing relative strength would be the standard back squat. It builds all the mucles needed for running and jumping. I would encourage anyone who wants to run faster/ jump higher to invest the time to reach a 350 + pound squat. If anyone is interested in learning how to properly squat I would highly suggest anything from Mark Rippetoe.

just my 2 cents…

Love the site Aex, keep up the great work!


August 28, 2009

* Adarqui is one crazy dude for anyone who knows who he is…I guess #4 was for the rest of us in the “normal” population!

*Thanks Neil. Yours in SAQ…mind if I steal that? :-p

*I know exactly what you’re talking about Mo. Just be careful man, it can be a VERY slippery slope between “damn exciting” and a chore…



August 28, 2009


The back squat is obviously a massive compound movement, no doubt about it. But to say BSS isn’t a compound movement isn’t totally true. It involves several muscle groups, spans several joint actions and is hard as hell (a common theme amongst compound movements).

I think the back squat has a lot of value, but in terms of weighing the pros vs. the cons, I’ve gone away from having anyone back squatting. It’s too easy for people to screw it up especially when I can’t be there to coach it 1 oon 1, plus I’ve always found it to be especially draining for a lot of the athletes I find myself working with.

If most of the athletes I’m working with are the ones who want to be unbelievably fast and quick, it makes sense that most of them are natural ectomorphs (or endomorphs). Both of those groups have poor work capacities to start with, and balancing lifting with everything else can be tough. You gotta be careful not too cross that line of “too much”…

…and more than not, back squatting has sent many an athlete over that line.

Thanks for the comments dude, and I’m a big fan of Rippetoes for sure. His “keep it simple” approach is something I’m a huge fan of and try to base my own views and coaching off of.



August 28, 2009

Hey Alex, I also dedicate every free moment to training. I have been repeatedly told by coaches, family, and friends that I will burn myself out, but I just can’t take a break without feeling bad. I didn’t know you have had a similar experience with burnouts. Perhaps you could write an article focusing on this subject and tell us your burnout story, because I know this is something that really dedicated athletes struggle with.


August 29, 2009

i have been slacking on progressing with my lifts. maybe im not eating enough to get stronger or something. but i am a huge fan of compound movements like squats and pullups.


August 29, 2009

Great article. I have done a month long program and feel more satisfied that when I used to “mix it up”.

I am still looking for substitutes for deadlift and weighted squats for my son who has been told that with his extra vertebrae these exercises should not be performed. Any ideas?


August 30, 2009

Great piece the only thing i would have to say about the 1st principal is that i have been lifting weights for ages then i went on a bball tour for 3 weeks and when i came back and started working out again i put on 15kgs in 3 weeks with out gaining any size at all so how does some one like me improve their relative strength when i didnt get fat or got bigger i just got heavier.


August 30, 2009


What exactly are you asking? You say you gained weight without getting bigger? Let me know.


Neil Wilson

August 31, 2009

Signing off as: Yours in SAQ …is yours to use.



September 2, 2009

Hey Alex, I also noticed that with all the exercises you mentioned, they all require some amount of balance as well. Depending on the sport, that is a key item missing. I work with a few children who participate in TKD which requires alot of kicks in one form or another, and the thing missing in their training is balancing practice. Ankle strength is extremly relative to that though. I love the lunges and split Bulgarian squats in your compund picks, they force ankle mobility and just improving useful strength improvement … good choices!

Beverly Trujillo

May 27, 2010

Incredibly awesome read! Honestly.