How to Build Speed Through Strength Training


When it comes to strength training, as athletes, the only thing that matters in how that strength transfers to on field performance.

Nobody cares about the squat max of a guy who never plays and on most teams the strongest guy is one of the slowest.

At the end of the day football is a movement sport and if you can’t move you can’t play.

“If you can’t move, you can’t help us” – Buddy Morris (Head Strength Coach, Arizona Cardinals)

Its late December and over the next 7 months your sole focus should be building the speed you play at, increasing your agility, and developing explosive power.

Now, with that said, how do you maximize your time in the weight room so that the hours you put in cross-over to the field?

The answer is not exactly simple…

…train in a way that builds Absolute Strength, increases Dynamic Strength, and uses Post-Activation Potentiation.

Let’s break each of those down…

Absolute Strength is the maximal amount of force you are able to produce.  This is attained by training with a rep range of 1-5 and with a percentage of your 1 rep max between 85%-100%.  Absolute Strength increases the amount of force you are able to put into the ground with each step.  This increases what is called your Ground Reactionary Force and is the building block for sprint speed.  Not to mention, being savagely strong is never a bad thing.

  • You should have at least one Absolute Strength day for both your upper body and lower body.
  • These days need to be focused on training at a load that is extremely challenging yet within a safe weight range.

Dynamic Strength is the rate at which you generate force.  The scientific terms for Dynamic Strength are ‘Speed-Strength’ and ‘Strength-Speed’ which refer to the velocity at which you are able to move the bar.  Dynamic Strength increases your Rate of Force Development.  This form of strength is what builds your 1st step quickness, agility, and explosive power.

  • On all programs we have two dynamic strength days each week.
  • The use of Dynamic Strength has the highest transfer from the weight room to the football field.

Post-Activation Potentiation is a dirty little trick to teach your body to be more explosive.  This is done by combining an Absolute Strength movement with something explosive like a Box Jump or a Plyometric Push-Up.  The real focus of this lift is the explosive movement.  The key is to have the explosive movement completed within 10 seconds of finishing the Absolute Strength movement.  For example, you do a set of Back Squat at 95% of your max.  Once you re-rack the bar you turn around and complete a box jump.  This tricks the body into thinking it has to explode on the box jump with the same amount of force as on the heavy back squat.

  • This style of training needs to be a part of every athlete’s program.  That is, once the athlete is physically ready to complete a ready to complete a max effort lift.

With those three areas in your program you will have an extremely high amount of transfer from the weight room to the football field.  Through the development of Ground Reactionary Force (Absolute Strength) and Rate of Force Development (Dynamic Strength) your linear speed, agility, and explosive power will be greatly improved.

Remember, you are an athlete. Not a powerlifter, not a strongman, and absolutely not a bodybuilder and the way you train should reflect that.

If you are looking for a program that will attack the physical traits in this article head over to and sign up for the #RareBreed – Training Program.  

As always please feel free to contact me at any time with questions or if you need any assistance with your training program.   Email:

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: