Not All Strength is Created Equal

Increasing strength initially has a large effect on the transfer to speed of movement. After that continually developing more often has no effect. The law of diminishing returns kicks in and we have to decide at what point more strength is not worth h the energy applied to it.

As athletes advance the time allowed for force application becomes so short that there is not time apply huge amounts of force. Elite sprinters spend .08 seconds at top speed in ground contact. Application of force has small windows of time in virtually every sport. That makes a case that athletes should work on training to apply that force faster at an earlier stage of training rather than later. It also makes the case that training should progress to a more unidirectional model, where speed, and speed-strength are the primary emphasis after initial strength has been gained.

If strength greatly exceeds what is needed for the technique, then there becomes no relationship between strength and speed. We see this all the time in athletes that continually get stronger yet can’t display that strength in their sport. Sprinting and jumping tests are easy examples to see transfer. If squat weights continue to go up without positive effect on testing parameters, then it’s time to move on. Transfer no is no longer occurring and more maximal strength is not the answer.

As a college football player, I continually drove heavier and heavier loads yet saw no improvements in speed or jump ability. In fact, those actually got worse at one was only when I stopped chasing stronger and went after moving faster that those changed.

Continually chasing more and more strength takes increasing amounts of energy to create gains. Those gains don’t matter anymore since we are no longer getting strength to transfer to speed. Our time would be much better spent training more specifically.

The Soviets continually said driving heavy strength training beyond what is necessary can slow down the nervous system, interfere with movement coordination, and create a slowness in the body.

We have to find optimal when it comes to strength development.

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