I recently saw a headline that said something to the effect of watching this 190 pound football player squat 600 pounds.  So, being the speed coach I am, I watched it.

I don’t know if he got as low as I would have made him get to be counted as a squat, but it certainly was close and heck of a lot of weight.  The football team was surrounding him and cheering him on.

Football teams make a big deal about max lifting and I get it.  There are only so many drills and ideas that you can do with football players to develop all the intangibles you want to see in your football players short of actually just playing football with pads and helmets.

As impressive as the squat was, how beneficial was it for that athlete?

Amazingly with all the new training methods out there, athletes are still having horrific/traumatic injuries at an alarming rate.  One of the reasons experts feel this is the case is because they feel they are too strong and explosive.

What??

Follow me.  They feel these athletes can deliver that much more of a powerful blow when they tackle and the body can’t take the shots as well.  Plus, the muscles might be getting stronger, but the ligaments and tendons haven’t increased in strength the same way.  Thus, the sharp cuts put too much stress on those areas so you get the injuries.

I’m not sure I completely buy all that, but there might be some merit there.  With that being said, the question that needs to be asked is this – Does a 190 pound football player NEED to be squatting 600 pounds?

Here is what I have learned recently at a few seminars:

  • Yes, you need to get athletes stronger, but you need to keep in perspective why they are lifting. It is to help performance when they play their sport.  Unless their sport is a “strongman contest” (or something similar), then we need to adjust the lifting potentially.
  • This 190 pound football player was some type of skill position. He needs to be strong, but he also needs to be fast.  So I understand about trying to get strong with squats.  A strong athlete will be a fast athlete.
  • BUT, the knowledge bomb you need to keep in mind when it comes to squatting is this. Research has shown that getting much stronger beyond 2 times your bodyweight will not get you that much faster.  Yes there is a speed difference if someone squats 1.9 times or 2.1 times bodyweight.  But, beyond that the speed difference is minimal.
  • What does that mean? If you are strength training an athlete to get faster and that athlete is squatting twice his/her bodyweight already then you can plan your training accordingly.  You don’t want to continue to train that individual for strength that isn’t going to net the returns you want so you can focus on speed and strength maintenance.
  • With that in mind, if the 190 pound football player can already squat between 380 and 400 pounds then he is not going to gain much more speed by squatting 100 – 200 more pounds. He could get stronger and if he needs to be stronger that is another debate, but he isn’t getting faster.  All you are doing is putting this athlete in potential danger to try to continue to workout and lift that much more weight.  There are better ways to utilize the time you spend working out.

The end has to justify the means.  If this guy was a lineman who needs to develop strength to fend off defensive lineman maybe I could see pushing towards 600 pounds, but at some point when is enough enough.

Plus, defensive lineman or starting to emphasize quickness and speed rather than bulk.  You might have to alter the routine accordingly.

I hope I made some sense here.  If you have questions leave them in the comments’ box below.  As impressive as a 600 pound squat is for a 190 pound football player.  There might be a smarter way to train him and get an even better benefit that will help your football team more.  That’s all I’m saying.