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Safe, Effective Strength Training for Athletes

March 25 "Ours is the age which is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to." - Howard Mumford Jones

Power Training

At a recent Track & Field clinic a vendor was handing out flyers from a company called "Powernetics." Barney Fuller, President of Powernetics, wrote, "The first point I want to make is that we cannot build a powerful explosive athlete by training and conditioning him with slow strength movements, such as slow heavy squats. The reason is simple; the ingredients necessary for power development are not present."

He went on by indicating that by the time type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers are recruited in a set of a slow controlled movements this will instill slow motor impulses into these fibers.

StrongerAthletes.com could not disagree more. Good scientific research that we have found that is not misleading, does not indicate that fast movements in the weight room develop powerful and explosive athletes. In fact it says the opposite. A movement that creates momentum could not possibly develop power in the athlete because the tension on the muscle is not constant. Fast movements merely express power. [See Expressing vs. Developing Power].

Fuller continued stating that he tested an athlete on his jumping and squatting machines. One athlete could not jump as many times as the athlete that trained on their machine. Could it be that this athlete is not adapted to expressing his power with that machine because he never apparently used it before?

StrongerAthletes.com claims that Fuller is defying the Principle of Specificity by saying that the squat and jumping machine will transfer to better athletic performance. [See Specificity I & Specificity II].

It was our understanding that we are trying to improve our athletes performance in their specific skills of the sport they are training for. As soon as a leaper machine is introduced in a football game on the 40 or 50 yard line then this athlete will do great.

The rest of Fuller’s article went into several other studies such as this jumping machine increased an athletes vertical jump 30 inches over his high school career. What does this tell us? That he is a good vertical jumper, period. We are also sure that he practiced this skill as well but that was not mentioned.

Fuller went on by saying that training in this fashion will recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. If this is so, did the athlete reach momentary muscular failure on the leaper? Obviously not, because it is impossible! Everyone should read a physiology text illustrating the principle of muscle fiber recruitment.

There seems to be a contradiction with what he is claiming and what science indicates from what we have found. He does state that muscle fiber is recruited in an orderly fashion but says fast movements are the best to train the type II fibers. StrongerAthletes.com asks the following question: If this is the most productive way to train for power and explosiveness, then why are there athletes such as Junior Seau, Jerome Bettis, Lavar Arrington, Ray Lewis, etc... and other athletes that are on the teams of our Teams page? Did the strength trainers of these programs develop an unproductive program?

We do not think so. We respect what Fuller is trying to do, which is develop better athletes and his equipment probably can develop some power and explosiveness but we believe it is narrow minded to think that it is the only and the best way. StrongerAthletes.com believes that slow controlled training coupled with sport specific training is the most productive way to train. Not to mention the safest.

Coaches, there are many training philosophies out there that are very productive and successful that are Olympic-lift based and some that are not Olympic-lift based. However, all coaches should seek out the safest, most productive, and efficient program possible.

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