One of the best pieces of advice I received for managing an athlete’s weight for their sport was from Louie during a weekend visit to Westside. He said you always want to measure weight gain for athletes based on speed. If an athlete is putting on body weight during training while at the same time getting faster and/or jumping higher, then one can assume they are putting on good weight. Theoretically, if an athlete puts on weight it can slow them down, because you now have more weight to overcome gravity. This is a big reason why world-class sprinters weigh closer to 200 pounds not 300 pounds.

At STA Performance one thing we do is monitor our athletes’ body weight as well as test their vertical and broad jumps frequently to give us feedback. If I have an athlete that has a goal to put on, for example, fifteen pounds over the off-season, I want to make sure the majority (if not all) of that weight is benefiting their performance on the field. Accommodating the weight gain with maximal and explosive strength gains through proper training can offset this.

Playing college football at the Division 1 level some of our coaches were very fixated at having their players at specific body weights for a position. I remember a lineman being told he had to go from 270 to 300 pounds in an off-season for camp and what does that kid do? Stuff his face all summer. Now he got up to 300 pounds but you can barely swipe a credit card under his feet when he jumps because he just added almost 30 pounds (of mostly body fat) to his body and not nearly enough strength to benefit his performance.

Whether your position is an offensive lineman or the point guard for the basketball team, each athlete has an optimal weight for their position where they can play at their best. The key is finding it. My recommendation is for a coach to set up a testing protocol, if one isn’t already in place, to measure your athlete’s explosiveness (whether it’s a box jump, vertical jump, broad jump, 10-yard dash, etc.) as well as monitor their body weight and do this periodically during your strength and conditioning program. Along with good nutritional intake, this can make for a good parameter when a coach or athlete wants to increase their weight.