A typical strength and conditioning program includes several different training phases and objectives. For example: maximum effort/pure strength, where the lifter tries to lift the heaviest possible load, typically for a small amount of repetitions; or a dynamic effort where the goal is to move a submaximal load with maximum speed. These training objectives will vary in both the intensity of the weight lifted and the speed with movement should be performed. Research has been done to develop a graph for what is called the force velocity curve (see Figure 1). This graph denotes the velocity range for a specific training adaptation. For example, it can be seen that maximum force exertion coincides with slow movement velocity, while speed strength be significantly faster.
A strength and conditioning program that seeks to maximize performance must take into account the speed at which the individual is able to perform certain movements to ascertain that the movement is being done is such a way as to elicit the desired effect. For example, If a high-school athlete wishes to train for strength speed, an extremely important quality for athletes in particular, he or she should be somewhere in the range of .75-1 m/s. If this is not the case, then the desired training effect is not being elicited, and the resistance needs to be altered.
On an additional note, an athlete’s performance can vary day to day due to a number of factors. Among these factors are adequate sleep, stress, and nutrition. If an athlete had a poor night of sleep and is stressed out due to any number of external factors, their performance may suffer. To help ensure that maximum performance is achieved on a day-to-day basis, coaches and athletes should be cognizant of the speed of movement for certain exercises.
Fortunately, such technology exists that allows coaches and athletes to measure training velocity. The Squats & Science Open Barbell unit is one such unit and is what we use here at the Rack. This device rests on the ground while a movable cable is attached to the barbell. This unit can measure both peak and average velocity for a single repetition or an entire set. Such equipment provides reliable, precise, and accurate data on exercise velocity and helps ensure that maximum performance is achieved.