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Athletes and Absolute Strength

All sports require force production. Whether the goal is to hit a ball harder, sprint faster, throw a ball further, jump higher, or get more takedowns, force production must increase. If we look at the equation for force, it is Force=Mass X Acceleration.

This is why we constantly try to increase both mass and acceleration, aka get stronger and get faster. To increase mass, our athletes put more weight on the bar. Whether they put more weight on the bar by using a linear progression or by hitting 1 rep maxes, the goal is still the same, to get the athlete stronger.

Strength isn’t built overnight. Athletes start in phase 1 here at our facility, which uses a linear progression on the athletes’ main lifts. A linear progression simply entails adding more weight to the bar each time the athlete lifts. Eventually, this method will no longer be as effective for the athlete (Case, n.d.). The athlete will stall in terms of absolute strength which will limit all other special strength capacities such as explosive strength as well.

Athletes then run into phase 2. This system involves many 1 rep max variations in order to continue increasing absolute strength. The 1 rep max, also known as the Max Effort method which was made popular by Louie Simmons and Westside Barbell, is the most superior method of absolute strength development (Simmons, 2016). This is WHY we utilize this system.

As an athlete increases their absolute strength, they become capable of handling heavier loads for Dynamic Effort (Simmons, 2017). Dynamic effort is based off a percentage on Maximal Effort lifts. Why is this important? Again, back to the force equation. Let’s compare 2 athletes. Athlete 1 is using 135lbs for the Dynamic effort day and it is 50% of their 1 rep max. Athlete 2 is using 225lbs for the Dynamic effort day and it is 50% of their 1 rep max. Both athletes are moving the bar at .8m/s, so acceleration (F=MA) is constant. Athlete 2 will be applying more force which in turn will lead to more force being applied on the field of play as well.

If we neglect the other end of the Force equation, our athletes are being set up for failure. Training only Max Effort or heavy weights will in turn lead to athletes getting slower at some point. Initially, absolute strength gains will drive both speed improvements and strength improvements for novice athletes. This is why Phase 2 uses a combination of both Dynamic Effort and Maximal Effort.


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