Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What's More Important: Brute Strength or Sports Power?

I was working out at the health club one day recently and I got a familiar question. Mark, what is your max on the bench press? My answer was, "I don't max on the bench press anymore." Not surprisingly, I got a puzzled look from the guy getting ready to bench press. What respectable macho male doesn't know his max on the bench press?

Here was my explanation to him: When I played collegiate football, my bench press max was 400 pounds. The truth is that the 400 pound bench press max didn't make me a better football player. A 300 pound bench press max would have been enough.

Why? Because power, speed, agility, quickness and dynamic balance are more important than brute strength!

Rate-of-force production or power (how fast your muscles can produce force) is one of the best physical predictors of athletic success (dynamic balance is the other). At some point, more strength will not increase your power.

From my experience of playing football at the Division I level in college as a defensive back, a big-time bench press max had little to do with successfully playing the game.

And on the occasions that bench press strength came into play, such as taking on a tight end, leverage and body positioning was more important than bench press strength. I know a former NFL lineman who started on 2 Super Bowl championship teams who said that leverage and positioning was more important than bench press strength. He should know.

When I train athletes, I focus on building their full-body strength and endurance as a foundation for speed and power training. Strength is not a bad thing, but I stress more importance on speed, power, quickness, agility, etc. using exercises that simulate game-time actions. That's where games are won and lost.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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1 comment:

  1. I agree Brut force has it`s place but speed agility and flexability are what you need for the overall athlete.

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