Many athletes face the question of whether or not increasing body mass (or bulking up) will decrease their speed. Traditionally, athletes with a greater body mass have been strong but slow, while lighter athletes have been quick and agile. Looking at it from this perspective might lead one to assume that you should bulk up for sports where you are using your body strength as an asset and you should keep body mass lower when speed is your primary goal. However, it is not that cut and dry. Athletes need to improve their force production in order to improve speed significantly. Strengthening muscles and tendons is also essential in reducing the risk of injury. Modern athletes have made it clear to us that speed and strength are obtainable concurrently, so there is no reason to believe you can’t have both.
So, how do you develop strength without sacrificing quickness?
The primary factor is time. Increasing body mass in the form of strength should be done gradually. Neurological aspects are always at play during training and development. When a body is changing, it must be given time to accommodate for new movement patterns. Additionally, gaining mass must be done in the form of muscle, rather than fat, in order for speed to be increased. Nutrition is an essential part of this process and cannot be overlooked. In general, if an athlete is gaining mass through strength, they are doing so through training. If they’re training throughout this increase in mass, they should have no problem increasing speed simultaneously.