LISTEN: Table Talk Podcast Clip – JM Blakley Challenges the Idea of Speed Work in Powerlifting Progression

TAGS: JM Blakley, table talk, speed work, powerlifting

Experienced in human achievement, JM Blakley is someone to listen to. His most recent advice is to reconsider speed work. To put it simply, JM is not a fan of speed work. He asks us to think about a time when high reps played into a max lift. As he states, reps are not part of the sport of powerlifting. In other words, it’s not about speed, but about force.

He also asks us to think about how many max lifts move faster than a snail’s pace. Whatever answer you’re linking of, think lower. JM cites the law of sports specificity as stating that you get better at what you practice. If you practice speed, you get faster — but do you get stronger?

Practicing speed, according to JM, doesn’t follow this law, as speed is not the same as force. For those who do practice speed, you may be missing an opportunity to practice strength instead. After all, this is powerlifting.

“This is a strength sport, not a speed sport.”

JM stresses that in the sport of powerlifting, you can’t go any slower than stopping; meaning, there’s no need for speed. Additionally, he notes that recovering from speed isn’t helpful. It’s important to remember that anything under your max moves faster and it’s all about practicing moving the weight at the speed it’s going to move.

Essentially, it’s about beating your own personal goals.

“I do not believe in plateaus.”

One method JM relies on is practicing with a set weight until he hits his max reps for that weight. His focus is on the weight instead of how fast he can lift it. After that, it’s time to begin adding more weight and starting over in hitting those max reps. Even just one pound is an improvement. It’s all about constant progression. Zero progress is zero progress.

“Do you expect to make progress if you stay the same?”

Of course, life happens; sometimes we get sick or injured. In that case, it’s a matter of reassessing how you will continue to meet your goals in consideration of that lost time. Too often a lack of progress is blamed on the training program, or sometimes even one’s effort. However, JM states that it’s not the program and it’s not a lack of effort; it’s a lack of recovery.

Getting enough sleep, getting proper nutrition, performing stress management, and having an overall training/life balance is the key to truly making progress in your fitness journey.


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