The need for speed

Speed and agility – key elements of fitness


It’s time to examine speed and agility. As with all the other performance aspects of fitness we have examined to date, the priority is to make sure any movement is correct and efficient before the focus can switch to maximising execution. So, in simple terms, don’t try to run before you can walk.

Master the ability to move first

Once a movement is performed efficiently and the correct pattern is memorized by your neuromuscular system, then speed can become the priority, but you need to nail the correct movement first.

Then develop speed

Speed plays an important role across all sports and it is evidence of a developed neuromuscular system. Type 2 muscle fibres are critical, of which there are 2: type 2A and 2B.

2B or not 2B really is the question

Both type 2 muscle fibres are responsible for power, strength and speed. Type 2A fibres, however, are able to perform a given movement for longer than type 2B. The more advanced your ability, the more advanced your neuromuscular system, as the ratio of type 2A fibres rises versus type 2B. 2A fibres tire less from more power, strength and speed orientated movements. A developed neuromuscular system will be able to produce good amounts of speed, power and strength, but a highly developed neuromuscular system will be able to sustain speed, power and strength for longer periods of time.

And don’t confine speed work to just the track or sports field

Speed is another variable most people often overlook when it comes to lifting weights. It is essential for Olympic weightlifters, but useful for all as an additional training variable; we do not need to focus solely on lifting more weight. Improvement can be made by lifting the same weight faster. By taking this into account you will give yourself a different aspect of measurement to help evaluate your progress, making training more fun and keeping you more engaged with improving your overall athletic performance.

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          About the author

Alex is a registered Master Trainer and Nutritional Advisor with Level 4 qualifications in obesity and diabetes. He is also a strength specialist and a Ni Dan in Shotokan Karate.

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