What is Strength?

Sports Performance: When are you strong enough?

All over the country athletes are spending countless hours in their respective strength and conditioning programs to improve sports performance. Let’s take football for example; a typical day in the weight room involves lifting, jumping, plyos etc. We all know that strength is a key factor in any sport we play but strength is a relative term.

What about using the concept of performance programming to better these athletes. Everyone loves to hear how much a defensive lineman can bench press. It’s usually an impressive number but what about the guy who can bench press a Buick but isn’t quick enough to get his hands on anyone to use that strength. When is your athlete strong enough? What do you consider strength? Does it really matter how much you bench press if you aren’t fast enough to use it? I’m sure we have all heard a college coach say “Let’s offer him a scholarship based off of his bench press numbers.” NONSENSE! No, you haven’t!

So why is lifting big weight slow less effective? Before everyone starts booing and throwing things at me let me explain.

Every athlete strives to be more powerful. Power is the ability to move or travel with great speed or force.  Force is defined as strength or energy as an attribute of physical action or movement. So in order to be powerful, you have to be able to create more force. How do we create more force? First, we have to know where to begin. To find the Force of an object we multiply Mass times Acceleration. You all remember the equation of F=M*A right? So why is lifting big weight slow less effective? Before everyone starts booing and throwing things at me let me explain.

The numbers don’t lie: greater force is greater strength

  • Athlete A takes 5 seconds to complete 3 repetitions of 300 pounds on the bench press and the total distance the bar traveled is 3 meters.

F  = Mass (136.4 kg) x Acceleration (.12 m/s)

F= 16.37 N


  • Now, look at the numbers if we take that same athlete and have him bench press 260 pounds for 3 repetitions with the same distance of 3 meters this time it takes 4 seconds to complete.

F = Mass (118.2 kg) x Acceleration (0.19 m/s)

F= 22.46 N

You need to increase force production to improve sports performance

It is very clear that even though he is pushing a smaller weight by moving it faster there is much more force production being done. This goes the same for all lifts. Learn how to measure and chart this and your game will take off to levels never seen before. Get off the machines, get over your one rep max, stop obsessing over how strong you are and focus on how powerful you are. If you want to lift the heaviest weight possible, change sports and become a strongman, it’s that simple! If you’re here in Las Vegas, come on by the gym and let’s work on a plan to help you improve your power output.

You need to produce more force. Not lift more weight.

If you are ready to get serious and take your game to the next level, you need to ditch these antiquated ideas about how strength factors into athletic performance. At Las Vegas Sports Performance, we begin your training with the Functional Movement Screen to set a baseline for your progress. Understanding how your body moves is much more important to your sports performance than increasing the number of plates you can load on a squat rack. Yes, let’s get stronger. But let’s not confuse the issue by mistakingly assuming that total weight lifted translates to an edge in your sport. You need to produce more force. Not lift more weight.

“This relationship between force and velocity and its effect on power explains why an athlete can be exceptionally strong but lack significant power if they are unable to apply much of their strength over a short period of time.” -Phil Davies wrote in a fantastic post called Power Training For Sport.

Rob Martinez and Las Vegas Sports Performance are committed to helping you reach your maximum fitness potential.