Wednesday, December 23, 2015

RFD- Rate of Force Development

Lifting heavy weights, and most athletic events, is all about rate of force development.

Posted here is an article I recently read on the "Training and Conditioning" web site. While I agreed with much of it, there are somethings I don't agree with. Of course that is to be expected. If we all thought alike, we'd never make much progress. I will use the article as a discussion point and post my comments in BYU blue.

"It doesn't matter if it is a sport coach telling you what they want out of a strength and conditioning program or a strength coach telling you what their program does for an athlete; a common mantra we hear is: bigger, faster and stronger. It's true, that is a common mantra. In fact, a friend of mine has created a very successful business that takes it's name from that mantra. Yes, BFS was conceived at BYU in the early 70's. I always tell my ahtletes that I'll take stronger and faster over bigger any day. Although I don't think any coach would complain about having all three.
But when training athletes, it's better to begin by addressing two questions:
1. Am I giving my athletes the ability to create more force in a shorter amount of time?
I agree. Rate of force development is the key factor and often not understood.2. Am I asking this athlete to perform movements that will help them create force in the time their sport happens?
What movements could an athlete perform that would be more valuable than their actual event?Whether it is the baseball swing happening in 100-120 ms, or the foot being on the ground for 80-200 ms, sport happens within a limited time and distance. So in most sport applications, we should train to develop concentric velocity. A lot of things go into creating concentric velocity, but let's look at a couple of different force/time curves of styles of training.

As you can see, an explosive-ballistic style of training creates more force in a shorter amount of time than traditional heavy-resistance training does. This in turn results in a greater degree of rate of force development. According to Figure 20.01 (see above), heavy resistance training does create more force than explosive-ballistic training after 300 ms, but not many sport tasks happen in that time frame. In fact, an untrained individual will produce a higher amount of force earlier in the force time curve than a heavy resistance trained athlete will. Unfortunately for the heavy resistance trained athlete most sport tasks occur in an 0-200ms window.(1)
Indeed the graph shows this, however what the graph represents is unclear to me. What is it really representing? Normally a Force Velocity Curve is set up with the velocity as the vertical axis and force as the horizontal axis. Clearly strength training will shift the curve to the right. We often use graphs and statistics to illustrate ideas, but sometimes they are not representitive of real life experiences. For example; I have been told that China has a large population and that 4 out of 6 babies born world wide are Chinese. OK. My wife and I have six children and not one of them was Chinese! How is that for hillbilly logic? lolExplosive-ballistic training
If the above statements are true, it is important to determine what explosive-ballistic training is. Explosive movements require moving an object with as much velocity as possible, which often involves the reflexive and elastic components of the muscle-tendon complex.
Agreed. Also, the heavier the object to be moved, the more force that will be needed to move it.
Heavy resistance training involves more of the cross sectional area of the muscle. Ballistic movements are when you propel an object--such as your self (jumping), or an object (throwing a medicine ball). Explosive-ballistic training develops something called speed-strength. Speed-strength is the ability of the body to create a high amount of force in the shortest amount of time. This is what actually happens in just about all sport movements out on the field or court.
(Italics mine) Exactly!!! So why try to duplicate it in a contrived exercise, just practice your event.
I think this concept is gaining traction as more coaches apply it to sprinting and lower body movements, but I believe there are even more opportunities for coaches to apply explosive-ballistic training. Take a throwing athlete for example--when is the last time you have witnessed one of them actually training their arms explosively?
I see it every day in practice as throwers use explosively throw shots, discs, javelins and hammers of varying weights, both light and heavy as well as the standard implements.
I believe there is a time and place for all methodologies and all elements of movement have to be present in training. One of the first things a coach needs to do is take into further consideration the time constraints that exist in their sport, then honestly evaluate if their program can maximize their training efforts.
SO, if your time is limited, what is more important than throwing your implements?Obviously, every sport has different requirements that dictate the athlete's performance. Thus the days are gone of creating athletes that are just bigger, faster and stronger. To maximize athletic performance you have to answer the questions: How big? How fast? How strong?
And the most important question of all..... Are you throwing farther?
As a coach, you have to know the given factors of each movement task that you are trying to train. In future blogs, I'm excited to tell you more about factors such as kinematic versus kinetic analysis, basic movement efficiency, stability and numerous other athletic components. I'm also excited to share how I apply them to the training of athletes in tasks other than running or jumping. "
Do we really have to analyze all that? If we are lifting smart, won't we get stronger? Won't the increased strength make us faster? If we are training and eating smart, won't that lead to an increase lean body mass? If we are throwing (or practicing our sport) isn't that the most specific training we can do? Isn't that how any top level thrower trains?Nick Pinkelman is an Athletic Performance Trainer at Explosive Edge Athletics, in Eden Prairie, Minn. During his career, he has worked with high school, college, and professional athletes.

1. Plisk, Steven S. Speed, Agility, and Speed- Endurance Development. In: Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. R.W. Earle and T.R. Baechle, eds. Champaign, IL Human Kinetics, 471-491, 2000.

How is this for Rate of Force Development?

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