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Lighter & faster or heavier & slower?

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:21 pm
by toby123
I try and lift as much as I can in the reps I do, but the concentric motion can be relatively slow. Should this result in more mass/strength gains than selecting a slightly lighter weight but lifting it faster? What is the difference in terms of muscle fibre recruitment? Maybe no-one knows?

Note that in both alternatives the eccentric motion is slow.

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:35 pm
by caangelxox
read the thread on power vs. strength. that will answer your question. light and fast is power/explosive, slow/heavier is mass/strength.

both power and strength is what athletes focus on. strength is usually done in the off season (a little power here and there as well) and power is usually done in season

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:00 pm
by stuward
It's the effort that matters. Regardless of the load, you should attempt to move it as fast as possible. With a very heavy load, it's OK if the bar moves slowly as long as the intent is to move it fast. ... tor-units/

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:25 pm
by Ryan A
So I have long heard about the "intent is what matters" dogma but I am curious how this actually makes sense...

If I don't try to lift a weight fast and it has some velocity during ascension, and then I do try to lift the weight fast and it has the SAME velocity, then the physical power is the same. This leads me to conclude that the above situation is either impossible OR the human body, in its attempt to output more energy, does incredibly inefficient things (in this case 0% conversion to actual realized power).

Maybe this whole discussion is pointless and it is more of a mantra for inexperienced lifters who feel that since the weight is light, they can just nonchalantly lift the weight. For experienced lifters perhaps there is no such thing as not lifting with maximum intent and therefore the realized bar speeds would be the same. This still sounds rather fishy.

I guess it seems like I am saying the recommendation should read "always move the bar as fast as possible". The whole notion of "intent" to move fast without actually moving the bar any faster seems to contradict physical principals and common sense.

Any clarification would be helpful.

Posted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:11 am
by KPj
Ryan - With the 'intent' thing. With a heavy weight, the bar probably DOES move faster if the intent is there vs it not being there, it's probably just not noticable. With a real 1RM, you can miss it completely if your not trying to 'explode' and/or, you can go a little heavier than usual if someone is there to cue you on it (if your not used to cueing yourself to do it). So, with maximam reps, the 'intent' can be the difference between making the rep or not making it, regardless of bar speed (without the intent, the bar may not move at all).

The difference can be seen when taking a weight and trying to hammer out reps. Say, for example, you have a ~10RM,and you're going to attempt to get as many reps as possible. If you lift each rep with as much speed as possible, you'll fatigue quicker than you would if you opted for a slower pace at the start and then using maximum force in the later reps. Obviously this is only ' to an extent' i.e. if you done the reps with a 5-5-5 tempo then it would be one extreme to another. This is a common recommendation for NFL prospects when doing the 225 bench press test - don't lift too fast, too soon, or you'll fatigue too quickly.

I hope that makes sense.

Chad Waterbury has some good info on this, and with specific info for people trying to get bigger. He has a few articles on it, but the first that came to mind was his "Lift Fast, Get Big", article, below. ... st_get_big


Posted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:01 am
by Ironman
It's not really intent. It is just moving it as fast as you can. In the case of a heavy weight, that would be not very. But it's as fast as you can do it. Where as with a lighter weight. it will go fast.

Posted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:53 am
by Kenny Croxdale
stuward wrote:It's the effort that matters. Regardless of the load, you should attempt to move it as fast as possible. With a very heavy load, it's OK if the bar moves slowly as long as the intent is to move it fast. ... tor-units/
As someone once said, "The rode to hell is paved with good intensions". That meaning that "good intensition" won't get you to the promised land.

The promised land in this case is an increase in power and/or speed. Thus, pushing a heavy load as fast as you can WON'T get the job done.

Due to the time it takes to generate, apply and fully complete a maximal effort against a heavy object, typical strength movements are not considered speed movements. Research indicates that a heavy squat, even when performed in an explosive manner "is an insufficient stimulus for improvements in muscle power…" (McBride et. al., 2002). ... stom&ID=22

Power is increased with loads of approximately 45-62% of your 1RM (max lift) with exercises like the squat and bench press. Loads of 70-80% are the most effecitive when performing Olympic movements such as a power clean, hi pull or power snatch.

With that said, even when pushing heavy loads, you need to push or pull the weight up as hard and fast as you can. (Hatfield's Compensatory Acceleration).

Kenny Croxdale

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:51 pm
by quadfrog
No one has mentioned range of motion, here. Once you get to a certain load, range of motion becomes limited as well as speed. I watched a pretty big fella doing bent-over rows the other day with 315 lbs. He was snapping them up pretty fast, but the bar was moving approximately 10 inches. Upon further examination, he also bobbed his upper body forward, so the bar actually moved no more than 5 inches. I've always believed that effort and maximum fiber recruitment is important for mass building, but not at the expense of ROM.