Why FASTER Female Athletes are STRONGER Athletes
Strength and force are inversely related, in the sense that with slower speed comes greater force, and with greater speed comes lesser force. To become faster, you need to produce more force in a shorter amount of time. Athletes become faster when they learn to propel their bodies farther through their muscle contractions.
Training for Speed
Many athletes tend to focus on getting faster by focusing on the rate at which forces are produced (i.e. sprinting, running, jumping drills). This is a mistake, because they are overlooking the critical component of speed: the ability to produce greater forces within those same timeframes.
Think of it this way: Athlete A weighs 125 lbs and can back squat 150 lbs. Athlete B also weighs 125 lbs, but can only back squat 75 lbs. Which one will be faster? Athlete A, because she can produce more FORCE.
However, there IS a limit to this relationship between strength and speed. Continuing to get stronger does NOT mean continued speed—UNLESS that athlete also trains to improve the amount of time her muscles are able to contract to produce the high forces.
Weight Training and the Velocity Curve
This is where weightlifting comes into play. Through the snatches and clean & jerk, athletes improve their ability to move heavy loads QUICKLY. Think of weightlifting as the middle ground: it is much higher force but not quite as fast as the athlete performing vertical jumps (solely using her body weight). BUT it is also a lesser force but much faster speed of contraction compared to an athlete performing a heavy back squat.
To look at these relationships differently, think of a curve, with the greatest strength at the top of one end, and the greatest speed at the bottom of the other end. In the middle is POWER—because you need to train the full spectrum to maximize your ability to move more weight more quickly. You will get more power when you train for strength-speed and speed-strength.
The Bottom Line
Female athletes looking to become stronger need to train all aspects of the speed/velocity relationship. The goal is improved power output: a training response that will only come from a comprehensive program where emphasis is placed on a progressive approach to strength & speed training.