Okay so I know the basic shapes and several of their variations; I can play them more or less cleanly (still could improve, working on it) but my concern is not so much "how to play it well" but rather how to play them fast.

i.e. at some point I'm going to be able to consistently play them cleanly all throughout the fretboard but still I take ages to form the actual chord. What's the best way to practice this? progressions? any one in particular? is there another trick?

i got my first clean noise out of one today, ive been told the only way is to practice, squeeze a tennis ball to strengthen your hand and practice some more, it could take months to master.
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pick a barre chord and an open chord and just keep changing between one another until it becomes pretty instictive. Dont worry if its slow at first. When it feels comfortable-ish to change between the two do the same but with strumming. Then pick another barre shape and repeat. Its how I learned anyway.
Speed takes time and practice, but it will come to you. And like others have said, switching exercises and muscle strengthening will speed things along as well.
Quote by Lord Kamina
You guys just gave me a good reason to begin doing fingertip push-ups again.
Exercise tends to develop muscles in the plane of motion that is used during a specific exercise.

That being said, playing the guitar has very odd mechanics of the wrist and hands, that tend to not be represented in normal exercise routines.

With that said, by all means do fingertip pushups, but don't expect that to be as effective as good old fashioned guitar practice.

Bass players do tend to be bit more naturally buff in the upper body, than do guitar players. I don't know if that disproves my theory, or proves it very convincingly.