I remember when I first actually talked with Louie Simmons on the phone and he was dropping knowledge nuggets left and right. If you haven’t heard me talk about Louie before, he is the foremost mind in strength training in the world. When he talks, I listen. I remember being pleasantly surprised when he told me he trained the Big 10 100M track champion and took 3/10ths of a second off his hundred time without doing any sprint work.
The principals of speed and explosiveness have to do with force production and the rate of force production. One of the first things I always explain to the athletes parent’s at Newell Strength is that we can do all the sprint work and agility work that we want, but it won’t make a difference if the athlete can’t apply more force to the ground. Meaning they have to get stronger through various methods in the supporting musculature. In other words, you don’t get faster by only sprinting.
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I have been getting more and more reports from my athletes that their various school programs are attempting to get their bench and squat numbers higher by just benching and squatting! Louie would be appalled! First, let me state that I am not a Coach that places huge emphasis training numbers unless it will benefit the athlete. The real test is always on the field, so be careful of any coaches that fall in love with testing, they are usually trying to validate the need for themselves.
Now, back to the point, you get stronger by working on speed strength and strength speed, meaning you must have lighter days in which you accelerate the bar and heavier days in which you go for max records. Remember, the equation for force is mass times acceleration (too many forget the acceleration aspect). However, you must constantly be working the supporting muscles and rotating the volume and exercise selection of those other muscles. For the bench, you would have to work the triceps, lats, upper back, delts and mid back.
Now the crossover for the athlete would be that they would become a superior version of their formal selves, bigger, stronger and more explosive. And, by the way, football coaches love to fall in love with the olympic lifts because someone a long time ago, probably Nebraska, had their football players clean and snatch. But, you can achieve the same bar speeds with dynamic bench, squat and dead lifts. The bottom line is, sometimes I forget what others do not know and you need to be on guard for the novices out there, especially if you are trying to earn an athletic scholarship. Give yourself every advantage that you can. And remember, you can’t get faster by simply trying to run faster nor can you get stronger simply by trying to lift more weight in the same exercise over and over.