Hey, Coach. You Can’t Be Too Strong.
By Louie Simmons
Years ago, I heard the head strength coach at Tennessee University say to his audience that he did not want any of his football players to be able to squat 600 pounds. Apparently, he felt that if they were that strong, they would be too slow. If that coach knew anything about special strength, or for that matter, fundamental Physics, he would not think that. (Try to remember F=ma.)
Not long ago, a supposedly top sprint coach said the same thing when he said that being stronger does not matter. If that was true, why would women not run just as fast as their male counterparts? No doubt, these coaches are on the wrong path.
I was reading recently about a study done on a comparison on how far shot putters throw and their top maximal strength. The study determined that there was no correlation between the two, and of course, they thought they were right. But unfortunately, the strength coach from Tennessee, the so-called top sprint coach, and the study comparing how far a shot putter can throw measured their maximal strength by using the classical lifts.
All three believe they can test the athletes’ maximal strength reflexes on their ability to run fast or throw a non-maximal load as far as possible, but they took their hypothesis from the wrong data.
Let me explain. First, you must know some simple science and basic physics. Supertraining, the book by Mel Siff, explains that you should measure special strength in velocity, not weights that are either light or heavy.
Here is an example that might help explain the relationship between force and velocity and how it is developed: If you are to compare throwing a non-maximal weight such as a shot put or hammer, you must compare it to lifting for maximal weight training with two special strengths, explosive strength, which is training at 30 percent to 40 percent, and speed-strength, which is training at 75 percent to 85 percent. Both done in a three-week pendulum wave will build all three special strengths—explosive strength, speed-strength, slow strength-- by raising max strength.
A second method is to increase your jumping ability. How high can you jump onto a box? Or, how long can you jump from a stranding state? Force development can be easy to explain on an Isokinetic device. When the resistance is set to be light, making the velocity fast, it produces a small force. When the device is set maximal in slow velocity, it creates the highest force.
You must raise all special strengths simultaneously. Base the weights you use on the individual’s max strength. A 300-pound maximum squatter would train explosive strength from 90 to 120 pounds, but a 500-pound squatter would train explosive strength from 150 to 200 pounds. The illustrations show the force-velocity curve. The volume should be 36 to 50 lifts or jumps with resistance.
Doesn’t it seem like information that strength coaches should know?
To get the right answer, you must ask the right question.