SportStars Magazine

Speed vs Strength

Why Choose? Here’s How To Maximize Both

So everyone is looking to increase their speed in sports. Speed is still king. There are two primary ways to do that. 1) You work on your speed mechanics and move more efficiently. 2) You increase your strength. In this column we focus on the latter.

You’d think it would pretty easy to just train and increase strength to increase speed, right? Wrong. See, most people think, “lift weights, build strength. Good to go.” The problem is that in the process of lifting weights to increase strength, you are gaining muscle weight and slightly working against yourself.

The key is to have a great strength-to-weight ratio. So you want to increase strength without increasing body weight. That will make your body lighter and allow you to move it faster. So how do make that happen? Well it’s actually pretty simple but takes patience.

The first step is to understand concentric (flexing motion) and eccentric (slowing/lowering motion) movement and its effects on muscle. The concentric phase is where the power is output. So during training, it’s the up phase of a deadlift, for example. The eccentric is the lowering phase where you lower down to start a deadlift, for example.

The concentric phase helps hold strength, but the eccentric phase extends the time of the muscle under tension, which increases the micro tears of the muscle and in turn makes the muscle grow bigger.

So the goal of your training should be to focus on the concentric phase and minimize the time spent in the eccentric phase. This will help you increase strength without increasing muscle mass so the body is lighter and more capable of producing force that will in turn increase speed.

Anthony Trucks is an IYCA-certified trainer who covers weight training for SportStars.

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