An Introduction to the Force- Velocity Curve and its Applications

06/24/2019

"An Introduction to the Force- Velocity Curve and its Applications" is the first blog in a six-week series regarding the force- velocity curve. The initial post will give insight into what the force- velocity curve is, different sections of the curve, and how it applies to training athletes. Subsequent posts will breakdown each section of the curve and how to train for that specific training goal.

The force- velocity curve is not so much a training method or modality, rather it is a graph that charts the inverse relationship between force and velocity. It is commonly observed in any weight room that the more weight you put on the bar the slower it moves; the opposite is often true the less weight the faster it moves. This is the force- velocity curve in its most basic form, sports scientists were able to plot points on a graph regarding a bar's velocity compared to the force produced by an athlete. Thus, the force- velocity curve was created. 

 

On the force- velocity curve there are five commonly recognized training zones. The zones include max strength, strength- speed, power, speed- strength, and max velocity. Each zone has it's respective 1RM max percentages, these can range from upwards of 90% of an athletes 1RM to below 30%. For a more in-depth breakdown of training zones click the link below.

The force- velocity curve is important because understanding each training zone allows a better program to be set into action. Understanding the qualities needed for on field sport performance then evaluating where they fall on the force- velocity curve is the first step to training an athlete. Then a coach must take the proper steps to develop these qualities. Often athletes will have deficiencies in one training zone. Coaches must be able to identify this weakness and determine if this zone is imperative to sport performance. If so, a coach should take steps to improve the deficient zone, thus hoping to increase on field performance.

Understanding the force- velocity curve is imperative to training high performance athletes. Because when in its simplest form training athletes is all about shifting the curve to the right on the graph as much as possible. When the curve shifts to the right the athlete is producing more force at higher velocities. Which is the goal when training athletes. Additionally, understanding the force- velocity curve allows for better insight when building an athlete's program. For example, a track and field sprinter who has elite strength levels but only average sprint times, may benefit from more training in the speed- strength and max velocity range. However, the opposite may be true for a football player who runs an elite 40-yard dash but who owns average strength numbers. Overall, training methods should always be determined by an athlete's goal and current numbers. Understanding the force- velocity curve allows a trainer to be more efficient when building an athlete's program and ensures maximum transfer to sport performance. 



Citations

Walker, Owen. "Force-Velocity Curve." Science for Sport, 3 Apr. 2019, www.scienceforsport.com/force-velocity-curve/.