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The Spectrum Of Human Performance…Strength, Power, And Speed!

The Spectrum Of Human Performance…Strength, Power, And Speed!

Mighty Mouse by cgosbee

The other day I had a couple of jiu-jitsu guys approach me wanting to know how I prepared one of my other students for the North American Grappling Association (NAGA) tournament. We want to get stronger to get better, they said. I immediately replied, well then I think I can help you out.  They followed up with some additional questions. How can we develop more power? What about getting faster to shoot in on an opponent? These are typical questions, but they are also very good questions. Let’s take a minute to dive into the matter at hand.

The Spectrum Of Human Performance…

The real key to understanding these questions is understanding what strength is all about. Often times I am approached by guys or girls such as this, or even by their parents if they are younger athletes, to inquire about one or more of the traits that I have mentioned involving strength, power, and speed. If you can remember Mighty Mouse then you know he was blessed with all three of these tremendous physical characteristics! The interesting thing about this is that Mighty Mouse wasn’t a big hulking figure either. I mean for a mouse maybe, but not compared to most everyone around him! This just proves my point, you don’t have to be huge to be strong. Size is a relative factor. Being Paul Bunyan big is one thing, but having a strong mobile body is a completely different matter.

Whenever I get approached by parents interested in my services to help Junior get faster they are often surprised that I immediately start working on Junior’s strength. Why do I do this? The reason I do this is because the characteristic of strength is at the foundation of every physical human ability. With the development of strength I can more readily teach Junior body control. With the development of body control then Junior can work on being able to express his strength better through certain physical acts such as lifting, running, and jumping. With a solid baseline of strength I can work on increasing the other variables of power and speed. This is how the spectrum of human performance works.

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You see there are many ways to measure strength. By definition strength inclusively is the maximal force a muscle or muscles can produce at a given velocity or speed. AH HA! Did I just use the terms maximal force and velocity? Yes, I believe I did. Here my friend are the hidden elements of power and speed development as well. You see without a solid baseline of strength power and speed cease to exist. If we look at a concrete example such as the deadlift you can see that looking at an athlete pull 250 lbs. off of the floor requires a significant amount of force.

If the athlete is able to pull this weight for a single maximal effort he or she arguably has a solid baseline of strength. However, if the athlete can pull this same weight off of the ground faster  and with more force and for more reps he or she doesn’t only have a solid base of strength, but they are also developing more power. Likewise if the athlete can perform a power clean with this amount of weight they have even more power development. With the power development achieved in these examples it’s easier for the strength and conditioning coach like myself to build on their speed traits as well!

The Dump Truck Analogy…

Once again, size is a relative factor. Big people can be strong, but this doesn’t mean that being a big Paul Bunyan look-alike  qualifies you as being strong, or even having a significant amount of power and speed either. Likewise, it also doesn’t mean that just because a person is big that they should lack speed. For a second let’s take a look at the dump truck analogy. I don’t know why I picked a dump truck for this example, but just go with it for now. I’m willing to bet you’ve seen a dump truck or two in your lifetime. These vehicles are generally very big and very powerful. Even for a large road hogging truck these vehicles can really build up some speed on the highway once they get going. If you don’t believe me then come down to Atlanta and get next to one of these on I-85 sometime and I bet you’ll change your mind in a hurry.

Nevertheless, the point is that a dump truck, being as big as it is, is pretty powerful and pretty fast considering it’s large frame . Likewise you may have seen guys at the gym that are 7’10” 5oo lbs, but they move like molasses. Are they strong? Sure, they probably are, but more often than not they probably aren’t as strong relative to their size. This is where that baseline of strength comes in order to build on so that power can be developed along with speed. These rather large guys could be more like the dump truck, but instead more often than not are like a dump truck with a flat tire. Maybe even 4 flat tires? On the other hand I’ve seen large guys that have a significant amount of strength, power, and speed development that have the ability move like some scary jungle cat! Now this is impressive. You see strength, power, and speed are all traits that build on one another. Regardless of size (i.e. Paul Bunyan or Mighty Mouse) the principles are the same.

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Either way if you don’t go about building your baseline and making sure you eliminate your weak links then you aren’t going to be able to move fast enough to dodge anything including a slow moving steam roller…

The bottom line is that you’ve got to know how to progress yourself along the spectrum of performance. If you aren’t sure about how to go about doing this then this is what I’m here for. To learn more about how to do this well you can start by joining my emailing list right here for FREE. Upon joining you’ll get a lot of cool stuff including my super cool training guide! This is real Mighty Mouse level stuff! Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend.



I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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