"Strong Enough" Does Not ExistMar 05, 2023
Strength is the most talked about topic when it comes to training athletes.
I mean, it is called Strength and Conditioning, amirite?
Popular narratives ebb and flow with what is "best" to maximize an athlete's potential with strength and conditioning training, but one narrative that continues to be talked about is the concept of being "Strong Enough".
I encourage you to keep reading and not to flinch at what I am about to say...
Strong Enough Does Not Exist
Before you exit out of this article and begin to bash my name on Twitter, give me 5 minutes to change your mind, or at least give you a new perspective on strength.
The first concept of strength that coaches look at is Barbell Strength or Weight Room Strength. Does how much you lift in a weight room correlate to the amount of strength you can express in sport? Certainly it does! More in some sports than others. "Strength" in the weight room correlates the most in collision sports such as football & lacrosse, but does not correlate AS much in skill-based sports like basketball and baseball.
But still... strength matters. A lot.
The problem lies in how we view what strength is.
Too many coaches have a singular lens on what strength looks like, and that is what is expressed with a barbell.
"How much you squattin' these days? You got 4 bills yet? Need to get there!"
Let me be clear... I am not devaluing the barbell. It is an excellent tool to develop strength.
But when we look at strength expression purely through a barbell, we will eventually begin to get lesser and lesser from each squeeze of the most precious resources we have... time and energy.
Once an athlete gets to a certain point of strength in a barbell exercise, the price of time and energy to continue moving the needle for that number to go up begins to skyrocket... with a miserable return on sport performance increase.
CLICK TO TWEET: "Once an athlete gets to a certain point of strength in a barbell exercise, the price of time and energy to continue moving the needle for that number to go up begins to skyrocket... with a miserable return on sport performance increase."
This is the valid argument that coaches make about being "strong enough".
That training efforts should begin to shift once we recognize or designate when the resource price is too high for the return... AKA not chasing maximum barbell strength and shifting to a primary power emphasis.
But I think coaches miss the boat with their language of being "strong".
Is the barbell the ONLY way we are going to define/measure strength?
That is not the hill I would want to die on when it comes to sports performance.
There are athletes you can think of as a coach right now that express force on the field/court but struggle to do so into a barbell.
There are also athletes you can think of as a coach that express force into a barbell, AKA the weight room warrior, but lacks the transfer of that force into sport skill.
This is why I believe barbell strength is simply a general means of measurement and should be taken with a grain of salt.
High school coaches... quit putting so much stock in a barbell max number... it is not what moves the needle that you think it does!
We want our athletes to be able to produce as much force as possible that transfers to sport. The following items that I measure on a daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual basis are what continues to move the needle to be as explosive as possible:
- Early Acceleration Sprint Speed (10 yard sprint measurement, 5 yard lead in)
- Momentum (Mass X Velocity)
- Vertical Jump
- Broad Jump
- Vertical Power Index [√Mass (kg) X √Vert (in)]
- Speed-Strength Power Output in Strength Exercises (0.9-1.1 m/s)
Do we need absolute strength for some of these assessments to go up? You better believe we do!
All of our main strength movements play a part in these attributes... I'll say it again
Play a part.
A large majority of high school athletes are force deficient in the first place. So yes, strength is a priority and we need it NOW!
The problem we run into is thinking we can just run a barbell number up and expect a direct carryover into sport. It just does not work that way. Barbell training is too general for that to happen.
The easiest time to get fooled by this is when a young, untrained athlete starts bangin' weights for the first time in their life, they see crazy progress in their first year because of the immediate nervous system changes they experience.
Unfortunately, this response runs out, the Law of Accommodation sets in, and we have to progress in other ways while being mindful of the time/energy price tag.
There is no limit for the amount of strength we want to be able to develop inside of the constraints of sport.
There is no strong enough.
If we want to build the most explosive athlete possible, the lens in which we evaluate strength and force must involve more than just a barbell.
Check out my flagship courses, products, and manuals below 👇🏻
Enjoy this post? Share it to your social media and tag me in it!
Check out our products by clicking here 👇🏻
Stay connected with news and updates!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.