Hypertrophy for Speed

I asked this question already, but didnt want to continue to hijack the thread it was on, but here is my question, hopefully i cant get a couple different perspectives on this.

First I just want to say I have no background in this and just thought of it after reading a study so dont kill me if its stupid.

Is it possible that weightroom strength plays a limited rule in speed development if any and would the same effects take place with hypertrophy work in the weightroom rather than strength work. I am not talking about hypertrophy all the time til you weigh 240+lbs, I am just talking about on an as needed basis.

I mean obviously there are big differences in weight i mean ben is a monster compared to someone like cason. And there are athletes who squat 600+ and others around 250 running the same times.

Could it be that the gains in the weightroom are more from hypertrophy and the athletes ability to train the added hypertrophy so that the limb is able to move at the same speed as it did before the hypertrophy causing the gain in speed, rather than anything from weightroom strength gains.

I mean you obviously need strength, but more track specific strength from actual speed work, bounds, jumps, sprint drills etc, not from weightroom strength work.

And obviously everyone will have their own optimal hypertrophy level and their power output will be optimized at different levels for different athletes, I am not talking about all sprinters becomes 200lb monsters, but rather just using hypertrophy as needed and putting a lot less emphasis on weightroom work.

Any thoughts?

I have no background here either, but I believe something similar to you. In my opinion, weights aid in sprint performance in two ways:

  1. They add muscle mass through which further track specific strength can be expressed.
  2. They reduce neural inhibition and allow your speed/power training to continue to increase in intensity.

Now that I’ve said that, I also have to say that I don’t think weights are necessary. The hypertrophy effect can be simulated by high intensity EMS treatments, and the neural inhibition reduction can be accomplished through specific plyo and sprint work.

I personally only do GMs with a high TUT for my weight training, trying to get some more muscle through my posterior chain. Besides that, I’m currently employing nothing else but plyos in my routine. That’s not to say I couldn’t benefit from further weight training, I just don’t think it would be as effective as my current training at this point in time.

As for some athletes not doing weightroom work and yet still running fast times, those people already have the necessary amounts of muscle in the right places to express their speed optimally. Specifically, Carl Lewis and Kim Collins come to mind.

So, yeah, I agree with you. But that’s just me.

Come on guys 58 views and only 1 reponse?

Give me something here, even if you dont have a scientific perspective on this just give me your thoughts as to whether or not this is reasonible, something, anything!

My main question is the difference between sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy and the difference in effect that they would have. I am far from an expert in this area, far from even being considered knowledgeable but my feeling is that sarcoplasmic hypertrophy wouldn’t do much but weigh you down, whereas myofibrillar hypertrophy when combined with sprinting, plyos, explosive meb ball throws, etc. to convert the hypertrophy is the ticket.

If I am not mistaken myofibrillar hypertrophy is mainly the result of multiple heavy low rep sets as opposed to high rep sets. These heavy weights also bring into play the neural/CNS output benefits, though there are detriments as well. But, to me, this seems to reinforce the need for weights in sprinting or team sport training though maybe not to the degree that some use them.

Just some thoughts…

Important for consideration here is the question of economy. A good coach should know that improvements in one method of training are not what’s important, but rather if that development could have been helped further through the inclusion of another method (eg hypertrophy strength work with speed work). If gains were money (as an investment with return), you would see a hell of a lot more coaches never stop speed work (with increased performance being the ROI - Return On Investment; just do the numbers and equate that to money, that’s all the evidence I need for both)! As a means of economy, I would argue for the inclusion of hypertrophy/strength work (I would of course use appropriate loading methods) with developing athletes (in this case, football players) based on their current status (bodyweight, body-fat % [Th], strength). Two examples here:

1-A guy I played with in high school was All-State (5A, Texas) as a sophomore at safety and was talked into gaining weight to be “more competitive”. He did so sloppily and saw his 40 times drop from 4.5 to around 4.7. Bodyweight changed from around 180 to 220 (all fat!!).

2-A guy that I trained was around 4.7 as a freshman (fast and explosive kid) but only weighed 150. Considering this, bodyweight is absolutely critical not only for increased strength/speed but also for reduction of stress to his frame (imagine Carl Lewis getting tackled!). Not to drag this out, we put 20 pounds on the kid and kept him lean (5% on 7-site skinfold test) while improving his strength/power significantly.

The methods should be appropriate but when it’s necessary, you can’t base the work on what you feel like. Being a good coach means making those decisions and learning from the good and bad.

Hi I would be interested on how you made the light guy heavier (No 2) and still keep his speed. My son playes rugby (flanker) and is 6ft 1inch and weighs 70kg. So he could do with being heavier but without slowing him down as he does a lot of running in that position. If this is hikacking just let me know and I’ll start a new thread.

It was relatively easy. The kid I train is one of the most disciplined I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with at any age. He was eating around 4000 calories every day with great consistency, got plenty of rest/recovery between training sessions, and was extremely focused in the weight room (he hardly said a word in training all summer). We used a relatively basic training split that we rotated every 4 weeks. The basics of it were like this (general warm-up, foam rolling, dynamic warm-up, “pre-hab” before lifting with PNF stretching post-workout):

A1. Barbell Squat Jump [3-4 x 3-5]
B1. Back Squat [4 x 6-8, 1=1:30]
C1. Dumbbell Overhead Press [4 x 6-8, 1-1:30]
C2. Neutral Grip Chins [4 x 6-8, 1-1:30]
D1. Med. Ball Alternating Plyo Push-Ups [2-3 x 12, :30-:45]
D2. Inverted Row [2-3 x 10-12, :30-:45]
D3. Med Ball Crunches with Throw [2-3 x 25-30, :30-:45]
D4. GHR [2-3 x 12-15, :30-:45]

A1. Hang Clean [4-6 x 3-5, 2:30-3:00]
B1. Barbell Bench Press [4 x 4-6, 2:00]
B2. Cable Seated Row through Sternum, Prone Grip [4 x 4-6, 2:00]
C1. Dumbbell Single-Leg Squat [3-4 x 6-8/Leg, 2:00]
D1. Clean Pull from Blocks [2-3 x 4-6, 2:30]
E1. Cable Lunge to Row through Shoulder [2-3 x 8-10/Arm, 1:00]
E2. Barbell Cuban Press [2-3 x 8-10, 1:00]

Adjust volume as necessary, but I didn’t have this kid do any true speed work, outside of accels and starts and even that he did by himself most of the time (my schedule is too much to monitor everything, even though I should). He also competed in the summer football (flag) they have for the skill-position players.

Many thanks Daniel, I will have a good read of this and might get back to you.

While i’m sure you can do many combinations and get faster the issue with avoiding weights all together is that you rob yourself of one potential training method that could come in useful if something happens and you can no longer do plyos. I mean what happens if you tear your plantar fascia and couldn’t take shock impact? You could use EMS but how long can you keep progressing with this? Charlie’s time in vs time out graphs (forum reviews, van’02 dvd etc) get me thinking about this.

As for only developing hypertrophy in the gym. Well, it all really depends on waht else you are doing. If you are hammering the plyos and the track then perhaps this is a good idea but you had better watch out for lower leg injuries to the bone and soft tissue. I think a combination of all modalities is perhaps prudent.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still advocate weight training. It’s just that at this point in time, I feel the only weight work I really need is the GMs. If a time comes when a majority of my work needs to be focused on weights then you can be sure that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.

And as for an injury forcing you to take up other training means, I believe that injuries can be avoided provided one’s training is in order. I rarely sprint, due to the fact I live in Alaska, but I can go out and run 100% effort 60M sprints any time and have never suffered even a minor hamstring pull. Point is, if your training is correct, injury should never occur, barring of course contact injuries.