Getting Strong & Getting Slow


This is a follow-up to my post last week with the statements that is it is relatively easy to get strong and it is easy to get slow. There were some good responses that basically mirrored what I am going to say. It is easy to get strong if that is your goal. By strong I mean measurably strong in the traditional sense of weight room strong. A dedicated block of eight to twelve weeks can result in appreciable measurable strength gains in any of the traditional lifts. I am not denigrating this in any way. The key here and the element that I think is often overlooked is how do you then transfer/apply this strength to your event or sport? That is the conundrum. That is what is difficult. Based on what I have seen in 47 years of lifting weights and my 41 years of coaching is that it is easy to get caught in the trap of more strength equals better performance. I reconciled this, both as an athlete and a coach by systematically changing the emphasis from general to special to specific strength depending on the training and competition objectives. In all of this it is essential to never stray very far from your event or your sport. That is the ultimate measure of performance, not numbers in the weight room.

As far as getting slow, that is very easy to do. Getting faster requires a high degree of coordination. Getting faster requires ballistic dynamic work in a very narrow range. Using heavy sleds, weight vests, running in sand make you good at running with those impediments but the transfer to speed development is minimal. Look closely at the dynamics of sprinting and what is required. Elite sprinters are already at 7.8 meters per second in two steps from the blocks. Training with heavy resistance increases ground contact time. That is not what you want; you want to put as much force into the ground in the least amount of time. Once again it comes down to understanding what you are training for, what are the demands of your event or sport. Harder is not better. Be smart in your training. If is does not look like what you are trying to do in competition then take another look. Remember you are what you train to be. Train fast to be fast!
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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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