Question: Is it possible to an athlete to become TOO STRONG?
Answer: NO! It is not possible. My good friend, Jeff Goergen, once said an athlete has never been told, “Billy, you’re just too strong, you will not be on the team this year!”
But wait, there is a time when strength should not consume the focus of training. You can be “too strong” for your ligaments and tendons, you can be “so strong” you develop muscular imbalances throughout your body leading to possible injury or decreased performance. You can focus too much on getting “stronger” (like spending most of your time trying to bench 405 as opposed to your present 400)that other parts of your training such as speed, mobility, balance or you skill in your sport diminishes.
This is something I see a lot. Many times when I first meet a parent of a client or the client themselves, the first thing they boast about is “Billy’s 16 years old and he can bench 300, squat 400 and cleans 275 so strength is not an issue.” My response usually goes like this: “You son / daughter obviously works hard. I am more concerned with “how” he is strong and how he moves than his strength numbers.”
Too many times an athlete focuses on his “strengths” (weight room numbers) and not his weaknesses (speed, agility, functional movement and mobility). Is it worth spending all that extra effort getting 5 more pounds stronger on your bench if: 1-the bench is already a good lift for you, 2-you are slow, 3-it will not improve your over-all athleticism and 4-it will lead to muscular imbalances and injury? Now…PLEASE DO NOT HEAR ME SAYING STRENGTH IS NOT IMPORTANT! It is, but the over-emphasis on weight room strength and the constant focus on nothing but weight room numbers are.
We had an athlete leave our program to go to college running a 4.5 40 yard dash (timed at Nike Camp on electronic time)and had a vertical around 31 inches and what I would consider average to above average strength for his age, weight and position. He also had above average results in a functional movement screen (posture and muscular imbalance test) and was a well rounded athlete in regards to his movement, strength, speed and sport-specific skills.
After a year at college, he came back over spring break about the same weight, according to him, a little bit stronger and ran a 4.72 40 yard dash, was VERY immobile and had to go through a Posture Assessment and corrective exercises to aid in helping his lack of mobility and functional strength. He also showed signs of decrease power and explosiveness using the Tendo. Well…but he WAS STRONGER…was it worth it!!
This is only one example and we have had many others. So, once again, it is not possible to be TOO STRONG but it is possible to be blinded by the goal of becoming stronger and let your true weaknesses get weaker.