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Other/Mixed 1Force-Velocity Curve Part 1

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)

Kenny Croxdale

Level 7 Valued Member
Forrce-Velocity Curve
Force-Velocity Curve - Science for Sport

Contents of Article
  1. Summary
  2. What is the Force-Velocity Curve?
  3. Practical Application
  4. The Training Zones (Sections of the Force-Velocity Curve)
  5. Conclusion
  6. References
  7. About the Author


The force-velocity curve is a physical representation of the inverse relationship between force and velocity. Understanding the interaction between force and velocity and their influences on exercise selection is vital for any strength and conditioning professional. For example, it is essential that a strength and conditioning coach understands the physiological and biomechanical differences between prescribing a 1RM deadlift and 5RM jump squatsas one will produce higher forces and lower velocities than the other. Failure to understand the relationship and its importance will likely lead to less than optimal training prescription.

Rugby Renegade | Rugby Strength and Conditioning - The Force Velocity Curve

What is the Force-Velocity Curve?​

Though the force-velocity curve may appear confusing and complicated, it is actually very straight-forward. The force-velocity curve is simply a relationship between force and velocity and can, therefore, be displayed on an x-y graph (Figure 1). The x-axis (i.e. horizontal axis) indicates velocity, for example, this may represent muscle contraction velocity, or velocity of movement (measured in meters per second). Whilst the y-axis (i.e. vertical axis) indicates force, for example, this may represent muscle contractile force, or the amount of ground reaction force produced (measured in Newtons).

The curve itself shows an inverse relationship between force and velocity, meaning that an increase in force would cause a decrease in velocity and vice versa. Giving an example, a one repetition maximum (1RM) Back Squat would produce high levels of force but would be lifted at a slow velocity. While a countermovement jump (CMJ) would produce a high movement velocity, it would also only produce low-levels of force. This indicates that there is a trade-off between force and velocity. That being, when an exercise produces high levels of force, it will also produce a slow movement velocity and vice versa.
This trade-off between force and velocity is thought to occur due to a decrease in the time available for cross bridges to be formed – more time equals more cross bridges, and more cross bridges mean a greater contractile force (1). Therefore, slower velocity exercises allow the athlete to form more cross bridges and develop more force. Higher velocity exercises provide less time for cross bridges to form, and therefore results in lower force production. As a result, different exercises and intensities have been categorised into various segments on the force-velocity curve (Figure 1). In addition, Table 1 demonstrates the force and velocity differences between numerous exercises. Here try and note the force and velocity differences between the same exercises at various intensities.

Practical Application​

As power is a key determinant in the performances of many sports, optimising an athlete’s power production is of great importance (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12). Because power is the product of force multiplied by velocity (Power = Force * Velocity), improving either of these components can lead to increased power production and therefore the explosiveness of the athlete. In most circumstances, the primary objective of strength and power training is to shift the force-velocity curve to the right (Figure 2), resulting in the athlete being able to move larger loads at higher velocities and therefore becoming more explosive. Shifting the force-velocity curve to the right represents an improved rate of force development (RFD). The RFD simply reflects how fast an athlete can develop force. An athlete with greater RFD capabilities will be more explosive as they can develop larger forces in a shorter period of time.

By only training on one part of the force-velocity curve (e.g. maximum strength), it is likely that the athlete will only improve their performance at that section on the paradigm (Figure 3). For example, only training maximal strength may lead to improvements in force production, but it may also result in a reduction in muscle contractile velocity. As training programmes which combine strength and power training have been repeatedly shown to improve athletic performance more than strength or speed training alone (13), there is no surprise that most strength and conditioning coaches commonly use an all-rounded approach within their programming.

Although most athletes should typically train at each section along the force-velocity curve, the time spent at each zone is dependent on many factors. Some primary considerations include:
  • Training age
  • Individuals strengths and weaknesses
  • Training objectives
  • The sport and position of the athlete
  • Time of year/ season/ stage of the macrocycle
Therefore all parts of the force-velocity curve should typically be trained in order to maximise the explosiveness of the athlete. With that being said, there is often great debate between training multiple components of the force-velocity curve during one microcycle, or whether it is more effective to segregate it into separate blocks. Though this is an important topic, it is inherently tied to training periodisation and is too broad for the scope of this article.

Kenny Croxdale

Level 7 Valued Member
Force-Velocity Curve Part 2

The Synergistic Effects of Strength Training

Maximum Strength, Power, Speed, Hypertrophy fall into the Strength Training Umbrella.

Synergistic meaning that the sum is greater than its parts.

It amounts to adding 2 plus 2 and getting 5.

As discussed in a previous post, one of the keys to increasing Maximum Strength involves Power Training.

Power is the "Grease" that allows a lifter to slide through the "Sticking Point" in a lift.

Strength is the foundation on which Power is built. To a degree, a Stronger Athlete usually is able to generate more Power.

Defining Power

Power = Strength X Speed

Synergistic Math Example

As an example let's give Strength a 2 Rating and Speed a 2 Rating.

Thus, a Strength Rating of 2 X a Speed Rating of 2 = a Power Rating of 4.

Increasing The Strength Components

1) Increase Strength to 3 X Speed remaining at a 2 = a Power Rating of 6.

2) Increasing Power 3 X Strength remaining at 2 = a Power Rating of 6.

3) Increasing Strength to 3 and Speed to 3 = a Power Rating of 9!

Powerlifters, Olympic Lifters and Sprinters

This research by McBride determined...

1) Powerlifters generally possess the greatest Maximum Strength.

2) Sprinters displaced the greatest Speed.

3) Olympic Lifters produce the greatest Power Outputs. Olympic Lifter are some of, if not the, top athletes when it comes to Power.

Olympic Lifter combing (Conjugate Training) Power and Strength into their program.

Olympic Lifter rivaled Powerlifter in Maximum Strength and Sprinters in Speed.

The only other group of athletes that are comparable to Olympic Lifters, based on my research, is Shot Putters.

What is the most direct means to achieve strength gains specific to the demands of jumping events?

This is a brilliant piece of work.

As David Kerin noted in the article, some athletes are able to produce more Power due to their Explosive Speed while others are more reliant mor on their Maximum Strength.

This is demonstrated in the above, "Increasing The Strength Components",

Dr. Fred Hatfield

As per Hatfield, in the world of most sports, Power is King rather than Maximum Strength.
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Level 8 Valued Member
Velocity-based training is the philosophical cornerstone of my training (even if I'm not always using the PUSH measuring system).

Even my strength training (e.g. squats) has a speed component -- a heavier, but slow grinding, squat isn't as useful to me as a more explosive, if slightly lighter, squat where I bounce out of the hole.

Purpose: conservation of leg energy for jerk, and if I'm really really having a good day, jerk in time with bar whip.

On a personal level, I also find it less fatiguing / easier recovery to move fast.

If I was a "Neurotype Training" believer, I might attribute this personal phenom to neurotype, but I'm not sure how much I buy into that model.
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