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Strength Training Application for Improved Athletic Performance
by Chris Mason
I hate to appear to be a name dropper, but I want to give credit where it is due. So, at the risk of appearing to be the former I was recently visiting with my friend Louie Simmons. As the majority of readers will know Louie is one of the most famous and brilliant strength coaches in the world. The man has been responsible for an innumerable number of strength training processes and innovations which permeate the athletic world (board presses, accommodating resistance in the form of chains and bands, his patented Reverse-Hyper devices, box squats, and the list goes on and on).
Louie is also a noted author in the field with a mountain of published articles as well as several books (you can buy them at www.westside-barbell.com). When discussing one of his soon to be released books we got back to the basics of his methodology in terms of how strength training relates to enhancing athletic performance. One of the first statements Louie made on the subject related to how many strength coaches simply don’t seem to get it. For instance, sprinting coaches often run their athletes into oblivion. He said if you want to get faster you have to get stronger, period.
Put that last sentence on social media and watch it get vehemently attacked by most of the “experts” in the strength training industry. You would see statements like strength only increases speed up to a certain level of strength and then a further increase does virtually nothing. That is partially accurate, but as with most things in life there is much more to it than that, and now we have reached the crux of Louie’s success. You see, over many years of study and application with the all-time record setting athletes at his gym and from all over the world, Louie has learned that if you want to improve any end of the strength spectrum optimally you have to improve the entire spectrum simultaneously. In other words, if you want more strength endurance you also have to improve your starting strength, explosive strength, absolute strength and so on.
To be clear, if one particular portion of the strength spectrum is the primary goal that should be the main focus of the training regimen, but not developing the other forms of strength will retard progress and reduce results. So, in the initially mentioned example of a sprinter above, absolute/maximal strength must be a component of the training program because strength endurance, starting strength, reactive strength and so on cannot be optimized without simultaneously increasing maximal strength.
I think a good way to visualize the strength spectrum and how to best increase any particular point on it is to envision filling a bucket with sand. You can pour sand in the middle, but you can’t appreciably increase the height of any particular point of the sand in the bucket until you fill in the diameter of the bucket throughout the full circumference. In the same way, you can’t maximize maximal strength without increasing starting strength, explosive strength, speed strength, strength speed and so on across the spectrum.
While the above concept may seem intuitive, it is anything but in the strength training and athletic performance world. Most performance coaches focus almost exclusively on the portion of the strength spectrum specific to their sport and thus dramatically limit the results which can be achieved by their athletes. Louie Simmons’ Westside methodology addresses the entire spectrum with a focus on the specific portion of the spectrum most relevant to the sport of choice. THAT is why Louie’s methods are the most effective in the business.
In case you missed it, the moral of this story is to train the entire strength spectrum (and do the research so you know how) and focus on the portion which is specific to your sport of choice.
Chris Mason is the owner of AtLarge Nutrition, LLC and an accomplished author in the fitness genre. He has written for numerous websites and magazines.