College football players seem to grow bigger and stronger - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

College football players seem to grow bigger and stronger, but not faster

Updated:
© iStockphoto.com / Sergey Ivanov © iStockphoto.com / Sergey Ivanov

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 12 (HealthDay News) -- College football players may get bigger and stronger during their four-year careers, but apparently all those grueling drills don't make them run faster or jump higher, new research finds.

"This longitudinal study shows you can make [players] bigger, leaner and stronger, but speed and power don't change. You have to recruit speed and power," said study author Bert Jacobson, a professor of health and human performance at Oklahoma State University.

"This advice is more geared for wide receivers, running backs, corners and safeties," he noted. The findings appear in the September issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

The researchers followed 156 football players for seven years, including the four years of their college careers. All were from NCAA Division I colleges.

Ninety-two players were offensive or defensive lineman. The offensive lineman's job is to move opposing players out of the way so that their team can move the ball forward. The defensive lineman's job is to try block players from moving forward. Size and strength are crucial for these positions.

The remaining 64 were skill players, defined in the study as either wide receivers or defensive backs. These are the players who most need speed and power.

Power is the ability to jump vertically, according to Jacobson, a skill that comes in handy when a ball is passed too high or if you need to try to deflect a pass so the opposing team can't catch it. Strength was measured with various weight-lifting challenges. Speed was assessed with a 40-yard sprint.

Players' height and weight were also measured each year. At study's start, linemen's average weight was 283 pounds. Over the course of the study, they gained an average of roughly 3 percent of their original weight, with 292 pounds the average ending weight.

During that same time, they dropped their average body fat from 22.5 percent to 20.6 percent, meaning that although they were getting larger, they were gaining more muscle mass rather than more fat.

The linemen got significantly stronger over their college careers -- with their ability to bench press increasing by 18 percent, from about 350 to 410 pounds. However, they actually lost a little bit of speed. Their power was virtually unchanged.

During their college careers, the skill players gained 9 percent over their original body weight, going from an average of 175 pounds to an average of 191 pounds. At the same time, their body fat dropped from a lean 8.4 percent to an even leaner 8.1 percent, according to the study.

As with the lineman, the skill players improved their strength dramatically. But, they also lost a little speed in the 40-yard sprint from year one to year four. They gained an average of almost 1.5 inches in their vertical jump from year one to year two, which was the only year that there was a statistically significant increase in power, according to the study.

Jacobson said the reason that speed and power don't increase much over time is that these skills are dependent on the type of muscle fiber you have. He said people have either fast-twitch or slow-twitch muscle fibers, and "that's not going to change. You're born with that speed," he said.

Dr. Victor Khabie, chief of sports medicine and chief of surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., said he was surprised by some of the study's findings. "I find it hard to believe that you can increase strength, but you can't increase power," he said.

"This study says some things are innate, like speed and power. So, you are who you are, and you can't change natural talent," Khabie said. "But, they didn't measure quickness or reflex. In a play, if you get the first step and get the inside move on a defender, then you're open for a play."

In addition, Khabie said there's more to speed and power than fast or slow muscle-fiber twitching. "Your hip, knee and ankle joints hold the muscles together and how those joints are coordinated in their movement affects your speed," he said. "If someone has a smooth run, what it means is they have innate coordination that probably starts in the brain."

Still, he said this was an important study that -- if the findings are replicated -- "could have ramifications on how we look at training."

More information

Learn about football safety from the Nemours Foundation.

SOURCES: Bert Jacobson, Ed.D., professor, health and human performances, and Seretean Endowed Professor, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater; Victor Khabie, M.D., chief, sports medicine, and chief, surgery, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mt. Kisco, N.Y.; September 2013 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Drug To Prevent Alzheimer's

    Drug To Prevent Alzheimer's

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:15:05 GMT
    Everyone-- no matter if you are a man or woman, family history or not-- with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Age is the biggest risk factor and America is aging. Right now, dozens of research sites across the country are testing an experimental drug to see if it might prevent memory loss associated with this terrible disease.more>>
    Everyone-- no matter if you are a man or woman, family history or not-- with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Age is the biggest risk factor and America is aging. Right now, dozens of research sites across the country are testing an experimental drug to see if it might prevent memory loss associated with this terrible disease.more>>
  • Could Down Syndrome Be The Key To Alzheimer's?

    Could Down Syndrome Be The Key To Alzheimer's?

    Monday, July 21 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-21 21:15:13 GMT
    More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. More than 400,000 of them also have Down syndrome. What does a condition seen at birth have in common with a disease typically diagnosed in the elderly? Quite a bit.more>>
    More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. More than 400,000 of them also have Down syndrome. What does a condition seen at birth have in common with a disease typically diagnosed in the elderly? Quite a bit.more>>
  • Extreme Workouts

    Extreme Workouts

    Friday, July 18 2014 6:04 PM EDT2014-07-18 22:04:23 GMT
    Workout routines have taken a tortuous turn. Running through mud and fighting in cages are just some of the latest extreme workouts, but one wrong move and you could be in trouble.more>>
    Workout routines have taken a tortuous turn. Running through mud and fighting in cages are just some of the latest extreme workouts, but one wrong move and you could be in trouble.more>>
  • Extreme Skin

    Extreme Skin

    Thursday, July 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-17 21:15:05 GMT
    Last year, Americans underwent more than 11-million cosmetic procedures and spent nearly $12-billion on skin rejuvenation. Everyone wants their skin to look younger, healthier and better, but some are taking it to an extreme.more>>
    Last year, Americans underwent more than 11-million cosmetic procedures and spent nearly $12-billion on skin rejuvenation. Everyone wants their skin to look younger, healthier and better, but some are taking it to an extreme.more>>
  • Extreme Diets

    Extreme Diets

    Wednesday, July 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-16 21:15:07 GMT
    Dieting is an American pastime. About 45-million of us diet each year, and we spend about $33-billion on weight-loss products. There are more ways to diet than ever and some are pretty extreme.more>>
    Dieting is an American pastime. About 45-million of us diet each year, and we spend about $33-billion on weight-loss products. There are more ways to diet than ever and some are pretty extreme.more>>
  • Frozen Lumpectomy For Prostate

    Frozen Lumpectomy For Prostate

    Tuesday, July 15 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-15 21:15:08 GMT
    More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year according to the American Cancer Society. In most cases, surgical removal of the gland is considered the gold standard of treatment, but results of a new study suggest a new treatment might benefit some patients.more>>
    More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year according to the American Cancer Society. In most cases, surgical removal of the gland is considered the gold standard of treatment, but results of a new study suggest a new treatment might benefit some patients.more>>
  • Bariatric Surgery For Diabetes

    Bariatric Surgery For Diabetes

    Wednesday, July 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Nearly 90 percent of people with type-two diabetes are obese and as more Americans gain weight, more will likely face a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, the American Diabetes Association predicts that one in three adults will have diabetes by the year 2050. For years, we’ve heard about weight loss surgery and its effect on diabetes. Now, a new study is showing how well the popular surgery is working to stop this serious disease.more>>
    Nearly 90 percent of people with type-two diabetes are obese and as more Americans gain weight, more will likely face a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, the American Diabetes Association predicts that one in three adults will have diabetes by the year 2050. For years, we’ve heard about weight loss surgery and its effect on diabetes. Now, a new study is showing how well the popular surgery is working to stop this serious disease.more>>
  • Ankle Replacement

    Ankle Replacement

    Tuesday, July 8 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-08 21:15:10 GMT
    More than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. Between 6 percent and 13 percent of them have ankle arthritis. These patients feel pain with every single step they take, but now ankle replacements are giving patients a new lease on life.more>>
    More than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. Between 6 percent and 13 percent of them have ankle arthritis. These patients feel pain with every single step they take, but now ankle replacements are giving patients a new lease on life.more>>
  • 3D Knee

    3D Knee

    Monday, July 7 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-07 21:15:09 GMT
    In the past ten years, the number of total knee replacements in the U.S. has doubled and many of those patients are much younger than ever before. Now, new technology allows doctors to make replacement knees that are the perfect fit.more>>
    In the past ten years, the number of total knee replacements in the U.S. has doubled and many of those patients are much younger than ever before. Now, new technology allows doctors to make replacement knees that are the perfect fit.more>>
  • Breath of Life for Heart Patients

    Breath of Life for Heart Patients

    Thursday, July 3 2014 6:20 PM EDT2014-07-03 22:20:13 GMT
    Heart failure, 5.7 million people in the U.S. have it and 55-thousand die from it each year. By definition, it means your heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support all your other organs. Now, a simple breath test could make it easier and faster for doctors to diagnose.more>>
    Heart failure, 5.7 million people in the U.S. have it and 55-thousand die from it each year. By definition, it means your heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support all your other organs. Now, a simple breath test could make it easier and faster for doctors to diagnose.more>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.