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If someone wants to increase his power/speed at performing a certain movement in sports (for example, tennis shots, golf strike, kicking a ball), would slowly lifting heavy weights (almost at the point of failure, if you want) help him achieve his goal?

I'm confused by the whole slow/fast twitching muscles and wonder how slow movements loading a muscle can improve the mirror movement (that is, fast with little load). How do each type of exercise relate to strength vs power?

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It can, provided you also practice the speed activity.

Jason Zuback is a notable golf example. He dominated the long drive scene for a while. He has a powerlifting and bodybuilding background. You'll notice long drive winners are often big dudes.

Good article on Zuback.

It's also where Tiger made a lot of impact. He's one of the first golfers to take lifting weights seriously. Most are lifting these days.

Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, lifting was a big part of them hitting home runs.

Ben Johnson, one of the fastest people ever, regularly lifted heavy / slowly. Can see him squatting at the 3 minute mark. He had something like a 600lb squat.

The general idea is Force = mass * acceleration. The mass and acceleration when it comes to humans revolves around muscle. Either get more of it, use it quicker, or both.

Then, to build a certain amount of muscle, you're going to need to lift some heavy weight. Heavy weight means slower movement. Said another way- the greatest displays of pure human strength are done slowly. (Powerlifting.)

(The other avenue is take drugs. This is why so many sports, whether the sport is slow or fast, end up with steroid users.)

But that's ok. If you're squatting heavily (slowly) but still practicing swinging a golf club, then you're practicing using that new muscle in the faster endeavor.

If you only did slower lifting, then no, that wouldn't immediately help. This gets technical, but you can look into pennation angles. A muscle can reconstruct how its arranged to some degree, making it better at producing force slowly, but that tends to lessen how good it is at using force quickly. There is a balance you want to strike.

You always need to practice the specific motion you're looking to improve as well. Slower lifting will improve your ability to produce force, but it's no guarantee it improves your ability to produce force quickly.

Again, it can get more technical, but when you get to a higher level, you'll then see how someone like a Ben Johnson would periodize his training. He wasn't always lifting heavy. He'd have a strength phase where it was understood he might not be as fast as possible, but then strength would go into maintenance so he could realize his speed potential.

Long story short, you will find very few people who are fast, but can't also lift a lot for their bodyweight. The eye test tells you a lot in itself. Usain Bolt is jacked.

Lastly, lifting weights quickly to get faster in a non-lifting sport is usually pointless. You're not likely to get stronger or faster. The speed you're going to be lifting at will not come anywhere close to replicating the speed of the sport. For instance, the speed in a clean and jerk is in another time zone compared to the speed of a 100 meter sprint.

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Slow/fast twitching muscles refer to endurance vs strength muscle fibers. For example a marathon runner is going to have more slow twitch muscles, and a sprinter has a lot of fast twitch muscle. Yes you get fast twitch muscles by training for strength, contrary to popular believe muscles don't make you slower, they make you faster.

If you train by lifting heavy weights slowly you will get more explosive power, but you will get more explosive power if you do the movement pattern faster. Be careful that your form doesn't break down by attempting to do the exercise faster. You can train specifically for more explosive strength by including explosive exercises. A typical routine would include clean and jerks, sprints and box jumps, without neglecting compound exercises like the bench, deadlift, squat,OHP and chin-up.

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  • Mmm...a bit of some misconceptions in the post. You don't "get" fibers by training. Your fast/slow twitch ratio is pretty much set at birth. There has been some evidence that IIb fibers can be converted into IIa fibers or vice versa, but that is fast twitch variances. You can't change slow into fast or the other way around. – JohnP Sep 14 '18 at 16:00
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Being strong is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being explosive strong.

You are limited not only by your muscle fiber composition but also by your genetically determined ability to recruite muscle fibers quickly. A normal person may double his strength and only get 10 % increase in explosive strength.

As mentioned you must also train fast movements in order to get fast.

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