Speed equals distance divided by time (S=D÷T). To become faster, one must either cover more distance in the same time or the same distance in less time. In sprinting, this is obvious because the distances are relatively long, such as 100 meters. In Olympic weightlifting, this is less obvious because the bar is only thrown perhaps 6 inches up into the air. While it is going upward, the lifter is going downward to catch it. If the lifter catches the bar before it comes down, he is successful. If, however, he is late, he must jump away from the bar and miss the lift.

Over the years of coaching Olympic weightlifting, we have learned that even though some lifters are strong, they still cannot lift heavy weights. The reason for this is they are slow. That is, they have converted their fast-twitch muscles into slow-twitch muscles. Thus, in Olympic weightlifting, the lift must occur within a certain time. Otherwise, it will not happen, or the lifter will be injured. The same thing is true in life. Saving yourself from falling depends on the fast reactions of your brain, nervous system, and muscles. In older people, this brain reaction is delayed by a split second which is enough to increase their incidence of falls.

The Overhead Squat Press, which is the safest exercise for developing speed, will train you to accelerate your reactions and to prevent them from ever slowing down. It will do this by increasing the number of your fast-twitch muscle fibers and the volume of hormones in your brain.

The Standard of Speed

After studying the timing of many lifters as they performed the Overhead Squat Press, we noticed that the average time to perform it is 5 seconds (i.e., from Steps 5 through 7). That became our Standard of Speed. Before you test yourself for speed, however, you must first have achievedthe Standard of Strength.

Degrees of Speed

Follow the steps for the Overhead Squat Press given above.

Time of Estimated
Standard of Speed
Poor: 12 seconds or more
Fair: 10-11 seconds
Good: 8-9 seconds
Very Good: 6-7 seconds
Excellent: 5 seconds or less