Does strength training make you slow?

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softball strength training

It’s a common misconception that strength training slows athletes down. I used to believe that was true. After all I’d seen players add weight lifting to their training. Yes, they got stronger, but they got slower too.

Slower in running. Slower in pitching.

Slow is not a goal in softball training.

When I was in college as a DI athlete, our strength and conditioning coach had us do “lower weights” and “higher reps” in the weight room. My understanding was that we stayed “light” on the weights since speed was important in softball.

This experience caused me to equate lifting heavy to being slow.

But I’ve since changed my mind about that after learning more ūüôā

I once had a softball dad ask me, “Will lifting weights hurt my daughter’s softball performance?”

Here was my response…

Strength training done right can only help a softball player. I firmly believe that.

Some think you must sacrifice speed for power. However, I did not see that at all when my daughter added weights to her training.

Not only did she get noticeably stronger, she got faster too. What a win-win!

Her training increased her strength, explosive power, AND speed!

That’s useful for ANY player, especially pitchers.

Good strength and conditioning coaches recognize muscle imbalances in athletes they train. Working these areas and reducing these imbalances helps reduce chances of injury. A good coach can also tell where a player needs mobility work. Addressing those areas helps prevent chronic pain (commonly in the lower back and arm/shoulder for softball players) and injuries as well.

After seeing my daughter reap the benefits of strength training, I saw an article that supported the idea that strength training actually INCREASES SPEED.

“…research findings¬† indicated that strength training does increase base running speed. More specifically, they reported a strong correlation between the training of large lower body muscles like the quadriceps, the buttocks, and the hamstrings and the increase in running speed.”

Then I came across another article that mentioned…

“…you need STRENGTH to get FASTER…To be an elite and a dominant softball player, you MUST lift.”

The first article mentioned working areas like the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. ¬†Later it goes on to mention exercises like squats and deadlifts. ¬†Squats and deadlifts, in the weight lifting world, are known as power lifts. ¬†Most people don’t think of powerlifters as being fast.

Most people don’t understand powerlifting.

I now have 3 daughters who competed in the sport of powerlifting.  One puts up world record type numbers for her weight and age.  Another set an American squat record for her age and weight.  All three hold state records.

I, personally, never powerlifted. ¬†I don’t coach powerlifting. ¬†I know having kids that do something doesn’t make you an expert. ¬†However, because my girls got into it, I did a bunch of research. ¬†What can I say? ¬†I like to read.

Anyway, what I learned from research and from seeing my girls train, is that powerlifters train for speed and explosiveness.

Louie Simmons owns a well respected powerlifting gym and trains all kinds of professional athletes, including sprinters. When asked what holds most powerlifters back he said

“Number one is speed work.

All sports, including powerlifting, require speed.”

Plain and simple.  ALL sports require speed.  Even the guys and ladies in the business of being as strong as they possibly can need speed.  Great ones train for speed as often as they train heavy.

That’s why I said, strength training done right benefits softball players. ¬†Good strength training builds strength and also addresses ,and trains,¬†SPEED.

So, does strength training make you slow? 


Not unless you’re doing it wrong ūüėČ

2023 update: almost 9 years later, still involved in the world of powerlifting. I now have 5 kids who have competed in powerlifting, 2 who have gone through 4 years of being collegiate athletes, another on his way to it this fall. All our kids who have competed hold multiple state records. Our youngest one holds National records and is shooting for world record number at National this summer. She actually hit world records numbers last summer, but since she was only 14 at the time, was not old enough to set them.

At this point, I have actually worked through a few seasons of strength training with high school athletes (in addition to my own kids for much longer than a few seasons). I have also spent some of these last years doing the training myself so I have a better understanding of it vs just studying it/watching it.

All that said, almost 9 years later, I still stand by 100% of what was first shared in this article back in 2014.

Mahoe sisters Powerlifting
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