Avoid Lifting Too Fast

Lift fast to be fast.

This phrase has hurt countless trainees. You should lift not too fast nor too slow, no matter what your goal. Practice your sport if you need to build your speed.

Those that seek help read and hear the most from the mainstream. The gurus tell you to look at the low injury rates in Olympic weightlifting as proof that you can lift fast yet stay safe. This leaves out the truth that those in high school or college sports know and that few find out. The truth is that many athletes get hurt when they focus on these exercises. Due to the wrong direction of exercise today, instead of looking at the poor exercises and methods, they blame bad form or a lack of a good coach.

Olympic weightlifting swayed fitness in its early stages. The current crop of researchers and trainers stem from this origin. Anyone opposed to them are shunned as the fringe of the field, so trainees do not know much from the other side.

Beyond sport, many come to feel that you must lift fast to best build muscle. In fact, if you lift too fast it harms results. When you can move fast, you fail to build much tension, the main reason your body builds more size and strength.

Lifting fast brings these poor assumptions.


The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

– Isaac Asimov

  • You need to move fast to hit the fast-twitch muscle fibers.

You do need to try to move as fast as you can when it feels tough. Motor unit recruitment shows that effort matters more than speed though. If you would take away a heavy weight at the peak of the effort, the limbs would move as fast as they could. Both heavy and fast actions, for bringing these fibers into the fray, work the same. As talked about soon though, heavy weight is best for tension.

Some feel that lifting fast uses the fast-twitch fibers first. We do not know if this takes place in humans but it does occur in animals, such as when a cat flicks a paw. Slow-twitch fibers contract quickly compared to our movements though. Slow-twitch fibers work alone on easier tasks done often and for longer, but still add to heavy and fast actions. If you could even do so, lifting too fast would just remove these slow-twitch fibers, which still help when moving fast.

You do not need to use all of your motor units at once either, such as by using your full force from the start, at least when lifting weights. The same fibers come into play sooner or later. It does have to feel heavy enough though, since too light of a weight would bring in fatigue that harms tension.

Some try to lift fast to get strong but to not gain muscle. This cannot occur for long. After the body uses what it has, as best as it can, it must add muscle to boost strength. The connection between size and strength depends on a person’s genes. Less time under tension will make no difference.

  • Lifting fast builds the muscles best.

Lifting fast harms tension due to the force-velocity relationship. Most of the parts that form a contraction have too little time to bind with each other. You cannot use much force when you toss a feather since it picks up speed too quickly. This concept applies to lifting fast as well.

Lifting too fast will limit the energy stored when you lower a weight and then release it as you lift. Too fast when lowering also cuts down on the time spent in the negative. This harms results, as this phase seems vital for building more size and strength.

Lifting too fast leads to bad choices like kipping pull-ups or those done with poor tools like kettlebells. Olympic lifts need speed just to finish them. Since these exercises carry such a great risk, you have to learn endless cues to stay as safe as you can. The agility, balance, and coordination you need for these exercises do not belong in lifting. These all harm tension and safety.

Some feel that lifting fast gives a chance for variety. Variety just forms an illusion of progress. Use the right program with safe exercises, strive to improve, and make sure you get enough food and sleep, and then you will make progress.

  • Speed when you lift translates to sport.

The best way to get faster at a task is to move as fast as you can in that exact task. Speed when lifting can only boost speed when you lift. Lifting as fast you can is dangerous though.

Lifting trains the fast-twitch fibers best. It slows down the movement enough to allow tension. It allows a heavy weight that brings in the fast-twitch fibers. It does not boost all of the abilities needed for speed though. For instance, changes in the connective tissue to store and release energy take place when you move fast. You also need to improve the rate at which you can use the most force. You need to learn skills too.

Mixing speed work with lifting only harms both. If you go this route, you complicate your program. The experts claim you need to find the right weight for speed, since velocity times force equals power. They say you must use 30% of your one rep max for high sets and low reps done fast on your main exercises. This misuses an equation, just like the problem with using patterns for their own sake. Get the most specific by training in your sport, which uses the velocity and force that you need.

The experts also say you must do the fast lifts first. This harms your progress. It takes away from the lifts that work best to gain size and strength. It fails to load many muscles, since fast lifts usually have the upper body limiting the lower body.

Lifting both heavy and fast is redundant. It may help if only by giving a relief from overtraining. This can happen as speed makes the body work less hard than heavy.

  • Lifting fast boosts safety.

We can move fast, but that fact does not mean we should do so with heavy weights.

You may ask, what is too fast? Too fast occurs when the speed goes beyond the ability to contract. The antagonists work just to brace at the end of the movement. You lose control, which harms stability and gives uneven stress to the joints and muscles. You feel spikes in force and have no time to react if something goes wrong. This can lead to too much range of motion as well.

Moving too fast when lifting has many risks but no benefits.

Avoid Lifting Too Fast

If you lift more weight in any style, you will get bigger and stronger. Though lifting fast can build muscle, it harms your safety and results.

Do not move too slowly either. This has you spend more time in the weak parts of the range of motion due to the length-tension relationship. It does not use a pre-stretch and harms effort.

Speed works best for cardio. Fast actions use lots of muscle that raise the heart rate and have you take in more oxygen. Even in this case, adding a small load can slow your cardio down enough to make it safer, such as by sprinting with a weighted sled for your intervals.

You do need to train fast as an athlete but not with weights. Get faster by lifting heavy but then translating that strength into speed with practice. Avoid lifting too fast.