Review: Weights for Speed (One and Two)

Weight lifting application and organization may seem complicated when it comes to dealing with different levels of sprinters, from beginners to elite, but Charlie Francis makes things clear in his two newest DVD Lecture Series, “Weights for Speed One”, and “Weights for Speed Two”.
Stripped with a white-board and marker, he covers ground from comparing and choosing betweeen general and specific lifting applications, to analyzing application graphs, to providing details on specific rep distributions for a top level athlete.

“Weights for Speed One” first and foremost, covers the differences between a General and a Specific lifting program.
For those familiar with Charlie’s training methods, he favors the General Weights Plan, agreeing with coaches of all sub 10" performers. His reasoning and analysis is thorough throughout both DVD volumes.

  • In DVD One, Charlie lays out a 7-year progression period for a beginner sprinter reaching top level, explaining muscular and CNS capacities, and their relationships to speed and weight training.
  • Explains motor unit percentages incorporated in each lift, of each lifting philosophy.
  • Explains how the mentioned lifts can be planned in a periodization phase geared towards peaking, and the peaking duration that each scheme favors.
  • Distinguishes between the needs of males and females in weight training, relative to muscular capacities and CNS levels.
  • Gives a thorough description of the Force/Time curve, and the relationship of General and Specific Lifting to speed, plyometrics and depletion pushups.
  • Mentions advantages and applications of a General lifting plan in the case of an injury.
  • Explains the incorporation of General Lifting in Vertical Integration.

“Weights for Speed Two” shifts from the more fundamental and crucial analysis of program explanations of DVD One, and brings more detailed applications of different types of weight training, for different types of levels. Of course, it is important to grasp the philosophies of DVD One, to understand all the specific applications of DVD Two.

  • DVD Two brings out the advantages and disadvantages of Medicine Ball training, Circuit Weights and Stage Weights.
  • It analyzes capacity graphs for beginner, intermediate and top athletes, regarding their lifting sequences, speed sessions and capacity sums.
  • Provides and explains a sample weekly weight training layout for a General Scheme of a top level athlete, analyzing total loads, CNS stresses, and recoveries, among other things.
  • Explains, through more graphs and reasoning, annual strength progressions for both Short to Long and Long to Short plans, incorporating both double and triple periodizations.
  • Talks about choice of repetitions, influenced by external factors of speed progression and overall planning.

Myself not being a sprint or strength coach, or even a student/graduate of sports science (but an active sprinter and Charlie fan :slight_smile: ), I was able to follow Charlie’s clear and thorough explanations through every step,embodying a great spectrum of weight training knowledge, always relating to speed training. The language is specific and explanatory, and the graphs clear and concise.

It is exactly what the title says; not just a weight training video, but a weight training video with a pure speed purpose.

And as with any other time when Charlie speaks or writes, it feels like collecting flying information into complete sentenses and beautiful logic, composed with scientific coaching artistry, that works…

Seems like we have to get both downloads to understand the whole concept? How long are each downloads?

Surely each piece must contain additional info you can use. It is nesessary to start with part one though.
BTW Thanks Stefanie!

You’ll be getting several more downloads to understand the whole concept…its wide and its large and could never be explained in one download, there is so much to cover properly.

Hope that helps.

Great review Stefanie, nice and thorough.

What’s the run time of each video?

My pleasure…

DVD One is 59:07
DVD Two is 43:24

This is another great tutorial done by Charlie. I have always had questions with regards to a general to specific weight program and Charlie answers them. No one lift can do it all, especially for the beginner. On the first film Charlie explains the main lifts to focus on in a general program, The different lifts needed for females, Theory and reality of a weight program and Injuries

On The second film Charlie talks about individual lifts in the program, Advantages and disadvantages of med ball, circuit and stage weightlifting, Duration periods for lifts, Athlete capacity with regards to cns limits, Breakdown of a loading scheme, How to load speed to strength, And of course reps and sets.

If you are a coach or an athlete training yourself you need these videos. There is a wealth of information on both of these videos and there is a lot more that he covered that I didn’t mention. I will have to watch each of them a few more times so I can get everything. Charlie gives so much information in one sentence that you will have to pause the video and contemplate what he is saying. He gets deep son! So if you want to get stronger and faster at the same time buy these videos. You will need to see video 1 before video 2 or you will be lost.

PS on video 1 between 18 and 26 minutes the video repeats.

Here is my review Weights for Speed (Part 1):

Charlies starts out by outlining the video topics which are:

1)General versus Specific Lifting

2)How Wt. Lifting progresses through the years.

With Charlie’s vintage whiteboard tutorials, he starts by outlining 7 hypothetical years that a sprinter will develop through to an advanced or elite level. Initially, all sprinters need to start with “general” strength methods (such as using mostly medicine ball work for year one) and only progressing to more “specific” work (i.e. cleans, O-lifts, etc…) when needed (if at all).

He also explains the terms muscular capacity and CNS capacity and how these shift over the training years. Beginners can stress their CNS more often since they are at the low-end of their potential, while elite sprinters have to be careful since they can overhwelm their CNS more easily. Charlie then ties this in with the key differences between general and specific weight training.

With General lifting (i.e. squats, bench, incline, pull-downs, etc…):

  • peak strength can be maintained for longer since the lifts are not as similar to sprinting on the force/time curve as say a clean is.

  • the more elite a sprinter gets, the more general his/her training must become again. According to Charlie, all sub-9.80 sprinters utilize a general program.

With specific lifting (i.e cleans):

-power outputs and Motor Unit activation is closer to sprints but this can become a problem as sprint times improve over time.

He then goes on to talk about depletion push-ups and how these can help with overall strengthening of the organism since they are quite far away from sprinting on the force-time curve.

A real pearl I picked up from the video at this point is this:

" The closer anything gets to a sprint (i.e. cleans, plyo’s, etc…), you’re competing against the same resources that you need to achieve the goal (of more speed on the track)."

So cleans, plyo’s and the like can become a problem over time when sprinting performance improves to a high level. Charlies then goes on to give an excellent example of his famous vertical integration theory and how important it is to lower the volume of similar force/time characteristic components as speed improves over time.

If all you do is cleans, what happens when you get injured? Charlies recounts how Ben really got his bench press up at a point when he was injured and couldn’t perform sprints or leg work (i.e squats). The bench was enough to maintain his CNS capacity even though he couldn’t sprint fast for some time. Also, since sprinting is mostly a “pulling” activity for the arms, the pushing movements help strengthen the organism, again in a “general” sense but it still can lead to improved race times.

One final thing I found interesting was when Charlie mentioned how cleans performed after speed work would not be done well due to the high CNS demand they require. They would ideally have to be done on a low-CNS day (i.e. before Tempo work) which can add more complication to the training process. Of course this is really only a problem for the more elite sprinters. Most sprinters can probably get away with throwing a few sets of hang cleans in after their speed work IMO.

All in all a great theoretical framework by Charlie Francis on the “big picture” of how weights fits into the speed training process. This is another CF video production for every serious sprint devotee to obtain! Well done.

Tomorrow I will watch Weights Part 2 and then post my review…

Keats Snideman
Chandler, AZ

Weights for Speed Part I, Review by Edderic Ugaddan (Wu Gong Heng)
Charlie’s Weights for Speed I explores the in-depth intricacies of programming and periodization of the weights. After owning CFTS, GPP Essentials, Inside the SPP, 2002 Forum Review, and Vancouver 2004, I really thought that there is nothing much else to learn. WRONG. For me, it is humbling to watch the video after being around in the forum since 2005. I recommend this to anyone interested in improving their practical, applicable knowledge of training programming. It is evident to me that Charlie Francis has analyzed his programs into perfection; he explains his training philosophy, as it relates to weight lifting, as clearly as possible. As you watch this video, make sure to take notes! There is lots of information covered in this video. Run time: 59 min.
Learn about:
• Concepts of General vs. Specific Lifting
• The differentials between CNS Capacity and Muscular Capacity
• How weights and speed training challenge CNS Capacity and Muscular Capacity over the years.
• The progressive switch from general to specific lifting…and then the switch back to general lifting as one develops into a world-class sprinter.
• The types of primary strength exercises and the decrease in the number of primary strength exercises used throughout the years
• How primary strength exercises turn into accessory lifts.
• The optimal length of strength blocks, and the point of diminishing returns
• The percentage of motor-unit recruitment of primary strength exercises, and how that can dictate how 12-week strength blocks for each lift are staggered to create peaking for speed and optimizing a program (i.e. creating less interference with the muscles involved in sprinting).
• How to create variation in the conjugation of strength blocks.
• The differences between men and women in CNS demand and muscular endurance, and the implications of those differences in making a program.
• The depletion pushups, and their role in the program.
• When to use depletion pushups in the microcycle (weekly cycle).
• The relative differences between the sets of depletion pushups.
• The force-time curve, and how Charlie improves it from left, right, and in between.
• The problem in trying to be “too specific” and how that conflicts with sprinting in the utilization of the body’s resources .
• How the role of plyometrics and its volume change over the years.
• The increase and the leveling off of speed and weights volume, and why specific lifting switches into general lifting.
• The advantages and disadvantages of general and specific lifting (i.e. differences in variability, skill demands, Vertical Integration, and opportunities in challenging CNS capacity.)
• The change in volume of primary and secondary lifting over time.
• How General Lifting can be helpful to an injured athlete.
• How Charlie’s Vertical Integration scheme changes over the years.

Weights for Speed Part II, Review by Edderic Ugaddan (Wu Gong Heng)

Charlie’s Weights for Speed II covers the individual pieces of the program, and how to apply Charlie’s weight training philosophies to beginners, world-class athletes, and everyone in between. This second installment is a must-buy; no re-hash, no fluff, only Charlie, a whiteboard, and a marker. Full 43 minutes of practical information from the legend sprint coach Charlie Francis.
Topics include:
• The General Strength Options: Medicine Ball, Circuit Weights, Stage Weights, and their advantages and disadvantages (in terms of efficiency, cost, difficulty, and importance).
• The progression of general strength options.
• How choosing whether to go LongShort or ShortLong affect the duration of each of the general strength options.
• The relative capacities of beginners, intermediates, and top-level athletes, and how they manage the demands of training over time.
• The differing lengths of GPP and SPP for beginners, intermediates, and top-level athletes.
• The differences in loading schemes between beginners, intermediates, and top-level athletes, with respect to the CNS Limit.
• Why the loading schemes are different for athletes of various caliber.
• Charlie’s microcyclic (weekly) plans for beginners, intermediates, and top-level athletes, and how he optimizes weights with respect to speed training.
• How Charlie assigns primary core lifts to a top-level athlete and its order of execution, with respect to speed training.
• The differences of priority between speed and weight training.
• The elimination of weights after a highly intensive speed training session for top-level athletes.
• Macrocyclic (yearly) expected improvements in double and triple periodization (both Long-Short and Short-Long programs) for beginners, intermediates, and top-level athletes.
• How Charlie creates variability by starting with 10 reps and then decreasing reps over time.
• The magic number of sets and reps Charlie uses for quick improvements in strength.
• The flexibility of Charlie’s weight program, due to CNS capacity being reached through speed training in some days.
• How the length of strength blocks affect reps assigned in the beginning through the end.
• How the level of the athlete affects the number of sets and reps assigned.
• Why the role of strength blocks changes from improving maximal strength to maintaining maximal strength over the years.

Thanks for the review. I’m not sure i understand the idea of doing the cleans on a low cns day. Aren’t cleans CNS intensive - hence the low cns would become a high cns day?

You could do them if after a speed session the day before drained you and you couldnt lift after you could get the cleans in the next day.

Seems like CF isnt a huge fan of the ol’s.

I found that somewhat unusual since Angella and Mark both used cleans, even late into their careers, and I believe Marion and Tim also utilized them in their programs at their peak. Granted, Ben never used them and except for Tim none of them were sub 10 100m men, but it seems like a number did. Hopefully, Charlie can comment on that.

Actually this doesn’t seem to be the case. I think (Charlie, you can speak for yourself better than I can) he’s just pointing out the potential drawbacks of using more “specific” types of lifts, like the clean, which compete with CNS reserve (think of the “CNS as a cup” analogy posted in years past).

Charlie is a fan of the O-lifts in how they can activate (up to 85%) of the body’s motor units, making them a very economical training tool. Like all tools however, there are pro’s and con’s, benefits and drawbacks. This new video series just elaborates on the issues you will face when dealing with sprinters and the integration of other training elements (like lifting).

That was over 20years ago, coaches do change over time, even the great Charlie has to keep fine tuning the system.

But Marion and Angela were sub 11 runners, and Mark ran hurdles.

Remember the lifts themselves don’t lend to the times, but aid in the stimulus from the sprint sessions.

Also, how is MVP’s weights program NOT specific, in these terms? They utilize a number of unilateral lifts (single leg deadlift) and do cleans, even when Powell was running 9.7s for the first time. Granted, they are not that strong, so there is probably not a huge emphasis on weights, but wouldn’t it be specific in this logic?

True, they weren’t sub 10 or anything like that and women need different training, but they are still highly elite athletes and if Charlie’s estimates are right, Marion would have been better than most intermediate males if she was able to run.

Mark ran the hurdles, but he also ran 6.49, which is faster to 60m than a lot of sub 10 guys, so I think he had some speed and was getting a lot of stimulus.

Mark was excellent in the clean but Angella was not and did not use the clean a great deal. Mark was also excellent in the squat and bench as well.
Tim and Marion did not do the clean with me and it was not in Tim’s program designed earlier, nor did Trevor use it on his own to my knowledge.
That said, I have no objection to the use of the clean, especially if an athlete has acquired considerable skill in it, possibly before joining a group. It just cannot exist on its own IMO.
In fact, part three of the Weights for Speed series will be covering this circumstance where clean are in the program and how, in that case, the program needs to be structured.
Stay Tuned.

Single leg lifts are not specific to anything in any sport, though, if done unloaded, can aid as a recruitment tool early in the learning process. Probably the main output in Powell’s leg work comes from step-ups. Would you consider this specific? I consider his lifting general round-the-body work from everything described.