The Strength Speed Continuum – When and How to Program It

The Strength Speed Continuum is a way to classify essentially all movements in the gym based on how much they tax and develop strength and how much they tax and develop speed.

While we as a general population gym are not focused on building athletes, we do use athletic minded training in a way that helps the general population achieve goals, so we must consider the components the continuum.

In a nutshell, we have four categories that exist across a straight line continuum.

  • Absolute Strength
  • Strength Speed
  • Speed Strength
  • Speed

Because the visual is tough in the video, here are the movements we discuss in each category:

Absolute Strength 

  • Powerlifting (Back Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press)
  • Front Squat
  • Heavy Barbell Lunges
  • Heavy Farmer Carries
  • 1-5R Lifts @ 75%+

These are movements that have a stressful demand on the eccentric portion of the lift, focus on load over speed, and tax the CNS.

Optimal: 1-2x per week

Strength Speed

  • Weightlifting (Clean and Jerk, Snatch)
  • Lifts at sub 75% performed with speed.

These are movements that have a less stressful demand on the eccentric portion of the lift and instead focus on speed rather than load.

Optimal: 1-2x per week

Speed Strength

  • KB Swings
  • Box and Broad Jumps
  • MB Slams

These are lightly loaded movements performed explosively.

Optimal: As often as you’d like. Limit explosive jumping to 2x per week.


  • Sprinting

Optimal: 1x per week. Athletic environments vary.

At our gym, we have (1) lift from the absolute strength column and (1) lift from the strength speed column every week for balance and optimal recovery. This will keep us in a state of positive eustress and not distress.

-Dave Thomas



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