Speed Sessions with Weights

Hi Ashley,
As the title suggests can you give me some examples of how to incorporate speed sessions into my training program. I want to get stronger and faster together with the CV fitness to last the whole game (openside flanker).
I devote a lot of time to my training and usually work on 4 weights a week, 2 upper, 2 lower and to be honest I tend to mix up the reps on every session, ie form 2 up to 20 reps, because I think the game demands everything from power all the way to endurance!
I normally carry out sprints after leg workouts on a Tue and a Thurs with a general beasting session on a Sat. trg programme is like this
Mon- Upper Body (mix of reps bu normally between 4-8 with different rest periods) 5 exercises
Tue- Lower Body 4 exercises (again but normally higher end of reps 12-20) and then sprints after this
Wed- Rest
Thurs- Lower Body Heavy 4 exercises (3-10 reps various rest intervals) followed by sprint session
Fri- Upper Body- Mix of high reps
Sat- Interval Session on rowing machine with periods of farmers walks and curcuit type exercises.
Sun- Walk the dog and chill:-)
I always stick to Bench, Bent over row, Squat, DL and SLDL with variables of them.
I normally feel fudged after the weight session but don’t really know when to put my speed sessions in and the sessions tend to drag on a bit.
I was thinking about doing 4 weeks of smashing myself in the gym with no cardio and then 8 weeks away start to add cardio in, but unsure of the best way to put it all together!

Hi Andy, thanks for your letter, you certainly have a lot of work thrown into your program, the first thing I would say is immediately stop doing the high rep work for your lower body, personally I believe that it is the wrong type of training to try and achieve muscular endurance for the lower body via weight training, you will get enough of this with your running and related training, I think it was the great man himself, Dave Tate, who said train in the gym for what you can not get anywhere else, ie; strength and power.

If you are worried about your lower body size then do a larger volume of work with higher percentage loads, like 8 x 3 with greater than 90%, or even 12 x 2, all done with 45 – 60 seconds rest between sets or a great lactate tolerance workout that I have seen on a Westside training DVD is 15 sets x 2 going every 30 – 45 secs with about 50% of max on a box squat.

Also I would move your speed work to prior your lower body weights, rather than the other way around, you need to be fresh for speed work so you can run fast, if you are tired it just becomes a conditioning session. Also you can get some metabolic conditioning work by doing complexes in the gym as well, say something like the following:

Power Clean from floor – Push Press – Front Squat – High Pull from hang – Split Jerk – Bentover Row – Romanian Deadlift

and perform 1 – 8 reps of each in a complex before returning the weight to the floor, then you could do a 3 minute hard burst on a cardio piece before starting the next complex

A very simple strength and repeated speed session is listed below for you to have a look at, if you not need to increase upper body size you can either keep the same reps from the lower body program for all exercises, or just do the higher reps for the upper body on one workout.

1 x Olympic – Power Cleans/Power Snatch

1 x Squat – Back Squat/Front Squat

1 x Hamstring – Good Morning/Dead lift

1 x UB Push – Bench Press/Incline Bench Press

1 x UB Pull – Weighted Chins/Bent over Row


Session 1

5 minutes continuous easy run then 20 x 40 seconds work with 20 seconds rest

Distance to be covered in 40 seconds of work is based on your average metres per second for a 1,500 metre time trial plus 10%, so if you run the 1500 m in 5 Mins 34 secs, your average velocity is 4.49 m/s, so the distance you need to run is 180 metres + 10%, gives you a round 200m

Session 2

12 x goal line to 22m every 15 seconds

10 x 22m to ½ way line every 20 seconds

8 x try line to 40 m line every 25 seconds

6 x goal line to ½ way line every 30 seconds

AS for speed sessions you could do something like the following:

Full Movement Warm up + Ladder Pattern with short acceleration out of ladder

10 – 15 minutes

10 x 22m accelerations from different starting positions full recovery between each rep

Sled Sprints 8 x 25m contrast with 25m sprint from a 3 point stance start position or Parachute and release sprint 25m with parachute then release and sprint without for 25m x 8 (alternate each session)

Stair Plyos

– Double foot take and landing every step as quick as you can x 3

– Double leg take off and landing as far as you can with each jump x 3

Training for speed is always about intensity, so after a good warm up go out and run fast, I will be posting some more speed workouts soon, this is just an example of how short a session can be to maximise results, cheers, ashley
, ashley
Hi Andy as a postscript to your letter and questions of yesterday here are a couple of other speed sessions that you maybe able to use, cheers, and all the very best with your season ahead, ashley

The G stands for Gainers (positions 1,3,4 & 5), U is for Users (positions 2,6,7,8,9,10 & 12) and the F for Finishers (positions 11, 13, 14 & 15) these were an idea given to me by Andy Friend and I have found it very useful to separate speed training based on these positional areas.

Session 1:

Full Movement Warm up 10 minutes

Ladders – forward series

Hurdles – 2 x march, 2 x skip, 2 x run + 10m accelerate


G – MB throw + sprint

U – Double leg jumps 5 x 5 + 10m sprint

F – Repeat hurdle jumps 5 x 5 + 10m sprint

Alactate Power

G – 2 x 8 x 5m build + 10m fly

U – 2 x 6 x 10m build + 20m fly

F – 2 x 4 x 20m build + 30m fly

Session 2:

Full Movement Warm up 10 minutes

Ladders – lateral series

Hurdles – lateral series

Harnesses – lateral series + release


G – double leg jumps 5 x 5 + sprint

U – low hurdle jumps 5 x 5 + sprint

F – Power Skip 5 x 40m, 4 x 50m Bound

Max. Velocity

G – 6 x 30m

U – 6 x 40m

F – 6 x 50m

Also these options maybe of use to you as well.

Speed Sessions

Option 1

Warm up for 15 minutes with a range of movements drills and gradual increase in sped till you are at around 85% of top speed and are ready to go, say high knees, carioca, marching drills. you know what to do.

Plyos – single hurdle jump and sprint 22m walk back recovery, increase height each rep if you can x 5, 5 x 22m bound then 28m sprint, repeat long jumps 22m then sprint out x 5

Resisted (parachute or sled) – sprint with resistance for 30m then release and sprint for 30m with no resistance

Assisted work with bungees – have a partner stretch out the cord he has a football, you sprint out with the assistance of the cord and receive a pass on an arc line to his left or right vary it each time, 4 each side.

Crossovers – sprint out straight for 22m, plant your right foot hard and cut diagonally for 10m then straighten off your left foot and sprint out for 22m repeat going the other way x 4 each side

In and Outs – sprint hard for 20m ease back for 10m sprint hard for 20m and then ease out for 10m repeat x 5

Option 2

Good warm up mix the drills up, as per above.

Flying 30’s – build up over 22m and then hit top pace and hold through to the half way line walk through to the other end and repeat x 4

One v One – turn them inside out from behind and race (Motsy drill) in 15m x 50m area of field one player starts about 5 metres in front of his partner (he has ball) facing the same way, the player behind attempts to turn the defender (front man) both ways and then when he sees a gap sprints past him and races to the 50 m line

2 on 1 – start at try line with partner, opposition player faces you from 10m line, work him over and when you see a chance take it and race to the half way line walk through to other end change roles each time x 6


Ashley Jones

Ashley Jones specialist in the physical preparation of rugby athletes. He has worked with professional sports teams that include Sydney Kings, Newcastle Knights, Parramatta Eels, Northern Eagles, Crusaders, New Zealand All Blacks, and Australian Wallabies. Irish by Ancestry, Australian by Birth, Japanese by Accident and a Kiwi by Choice.

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