Lately I’ve been testing my FitroDyne unit (which measure power output and velocity during a movement) to look for the best training load to use. I tested several of my athletes which include hockey players, football players, olympic lifters, powerlifters and a sprinter. I have attached a graph showing the power and velocity curve at various percentage of 1RM. Below are my conclusion regarding this little experimentation:

General findings

1. Peak power occurs at 50-55% on average

2. Submaximal power (90-100% of max power) is produced with loads ranging from 40 to 65% of maximum

3. Maximum velocity is reached with the lightest tested load (10%); it is quite possible that it could be even higher with lighter loads

4. Submaximal velocity (90-100% of max velocity) is produced with loads ranging from 10 to 25% of maximum

5. There is an inverse proportional relationship between velocity and load: the higher the load, the slow the bar speed

6. The power curve is parabolic: at the highest velocities, the load is too low and at the heaviest loads the velocity is too low to lead to an important power output

Training zones

In the preceding graph we can distinguish 4 different training zones:

Zone 1 Speed training (10-25% of max load): In this zone, speed is maximized while power output and force are low. This training zone can be used to train speed of movement but has little benefit for power and strength athletes. When training in this zone it is preferable to use the ballistic method or plyometrics (shock training): projecting the load or body in the air, because with regular lifting the deceleration phase will be much longer which will not have a very positive effect on speed. Exercises such as the jump squats, bench throws and medicine ball throws are best suited for this training zone.

Zone 2 Speed-strength (25-50% of max load): It is in this zone that we find the best compromise between power and speed. If you train in this zone you will get important gains in power and speed, however the gains in limit strength will be marginal. With this training zone it is best to use accommodating resistance (bands or chains) to, once again, reduce deceleration time which will help maximize speed and power development.

Zone 3 Strength-speed (55-80% of max load): It is in this zone that we find the best compromise between power and limit strength. Training in this zone will give you important gains in power and strength with a marginal gain in speed. Power and strength athletes would be well served to spend a lot of their training volume in this zone to maximize their performance.

Zone 4 Limit strength (85-100% of max load): In this zone limit strength is maximized while power output quickly decreases as velocity reaches very low levels. For that reason, an athlete training only in this zone will quickly (pun intended) loose lifting speed. To avoid that from happening, an athlete should use Zone 4 in conjunction with at least one of the other three training zones. There is no need to become slow if you become strong, just make sure that speed-strength/strength-speed methods are used concurrently with limit strength methods.

Chris T,

If anyone is doing other velocity movements such as powerball throws, sprinting, and plyos…will the 4th zone not have any ill effects? Or must they balance out the lifting with a speed movement in the weight room in addition to what they are doing in the weight room?

Originally posted by Clemson
[b]Chris T,

If anyone is doing other velocity movements such as powerball throws, sprinting, and plyos…will the 4th zone not have any ill effects? Or must they balance out the lifting with a speed movement in the weight room in addition to what they are doing in the weight room? [/b]

It depends, zone 4 exercises should not be done prior to speed activities requiring a precise technique that needs to be maximized. For example, if you have a sprinting session I would not do any prior zone 4 exercises for up to 12-24 hours before the sprint session (zone 3, 2 and 1 are okay).

A sprinter wishing to strength train the same day as his running sessions should select the training zone according to his work onthe track. The following matches can be made:

1. Top speed work on track - zone 1 and/or 2
2. Acceleration work on track - zone 1, 2 and/or 3
3. Tempo - zone 1 and/or 2
4. Starts - zone 1, 3 and/or 4
• Note that ideally there should be around 6 hours between both sessions.

As far as powerball throws and plyo goes, I consider them zone 1 exercises. They can be done in the same workout as other strength training zones and the same day as sprinting.

A sprinter (IMHO, some will not agree) should not spend more than one weekly session in zone 4 in-season and might go up to 2 in the off-season.

This is an intriguing way to look at thing- BUT- how do you handle the fact that sprint training represents repeated exposure (29 reps top speed, 17 reps accel)? How do you assess the force production from the sprint itself? If you take ground impact/ forceplate, you get the verticle portion, which is reduced as hip height/velocity rises. From a CNS perspective, max vel work is more stressfull than accel work- how do you account for that?
(Your coments about zone 4 work before sprints kinda rules out the malarky about 600lb squats 20min before world record sprints, doesn’t it?)

Originally posted by Charlie Francis
This is an intriguing way to look at thing- BUT- how do you handle the fact that sprint training represents repeated exposure (29 reps top speed, 17 reps accel)? How do you assess the force production from the sprint itself? If you take ground impact/ forceplate, you get the verticle portion, which is reduced as hip height/velocity rises. From a CNS perspective, max vel work is more stressfull than accel work- how do you account for that?
(Your coments about zone 4 work before sprints kinda rules out the malarky about 600lb squats 20min before world record sprints, doesn’t it?)

I agree with your comment on the 600lbs squat before a world record … why did CP even made that comment is beyond me (sometimes coach will make up stuff to prove their point).

I honestly cannot comment too much on the CNS implication during various types of speed work as it’s not my area of expertise. However I can comment on CNS involvement during strength training movements. I firmly believe that zone 3 and zone 4 strength exercises are the most demanding on the CNS.

However the more literature I read, the harder I find it to use cookie-cutter rules when it comes to CNS implication. For example, recent studies found that there is a different type of CNS involvement and adaptation to concentric, eccentric and isometric actions. Furtheremore there is some evidence that “shock” (plyometric) exercises also have a different CNS activation pattern. These variations make it hard to establish what is more draining with precision. So when you have an activity like sprinting, which involves basically all types of muscle actions it becomes almost impossible to establish just how much nervous energy is used. Not to mention that the invididual’s body type, technique, efficiency and training state will influence motor pattern as well (thus CNS activation).

So I think that in this case the old saying “Coaching is more of an art than a science” holds true!

The one true indicator of relative CNS stress you have is the Athlete’s perception.

Agreed … IF the athlete is:

1. In touch with his body
2. Willing to tell you that he’s fried … a lot of athletes, especially those with a strong drive to succeed have a trouble with that.

However I find that a good way to estimate the CNS state of an athlete is to test his vertial jump. I use the FitroDyne unit, establish a baseline power output during a maximal vertical jump (let’s say 1300W) and before each training session (after a proper warm-up) I test the athlete’s power output. If …

a) It’s 10% below his baseline I reduce the amount of demanding CNS training for that workout by reducing the number of high-intensity lifts as well as the average intensity.

b) It’s 5% below his baseline I reduce the number of demanding CNS work by decreasing the number of high-intensity lifts BUT the average intensity stays the same.

c) It’s 5% above baseline I will increase the average intensity a bit, but will keep the same amount of high-intensity lifts.

d) It’s 10% above baseline I will increase both the average intensity and number of high-intensity lifts OR I will test the athlete on a few exercises to establish a new strength baseline.

You can also use this method in conjunction with morning resting heart rate as well as the athlete’s perceived state of fitness to have a rather complete training status analysis.

The questions I use with my athletes are:

1. How do you feel?

Fantastic: + 4
Good: + 2
Average: 0
Awful: - 4

1. Are you motivated to train?

Beyond belief, let’s rock and roll!: + 4
Yes, I’m psyched to train: + 2
I wanna go, but that’s it: 0
Let’s take it easy: - 2
I really don’t want to train today: - 4

1. How did you sleep last night?

Great night of sleep: + 4
Slept pretty good: + 2
Average: 0
Barely slept at all: - 4

Interpretation Chart

10 to 12 total = Increase the daily training load significantly (volume and average intensity)

6 to 9 total = Increase the daily training load (volume only)

0 to 5 total = Stay with the planned training load

-6 to -1 = Decrease the training load (volume or intensity)

-12 to -7 = Skip daily training

Just a thought about the increase part, when applied to speed athletes . Won’'t some of the increase (the intensity part) come automatically from the athlete’s training status going in?

Christ T,

Please expand on how you do this with 30 athletes outside the weight room. Any ideas?

i really like this idea of tailoring specifically your intensity based on your body’s needs that day. 6 weeks into a 3-1-3 cycle you cant always handle sticking lifting heavy lifts for “x” amount of reps at “y” amount of weight, but you still need to train, thanks for this thread, some questions please…

would you recommend to athletes training themselves that dont have access to tools like the fitrodyne unit to gage a perscribed intensity for that days training based on 1) your above number corralation chart on how they feel. 2) resting heart rate upon waking up. 3)vertical jump before training ? are these the basic factors you should consider in determing what range (10-90% of 1rm) your going to target that day?

am i right in assuming you are only talking about determined training traing days (acceleration, max speed, oly lifting) and not recoup days (tempo)? what i mean is, if you rank high on the determining intensity factors a day after say acceleration work, you could hit high intensity again or you should still do a tempo day? (im pretty sure you still take a recoup day).

sorry, one more thing, i forgot off the top of my head how to take your resting heart rate and how it would apply to this particular gaging process in determing what of the 1,2,3, or four zones it would be optimal to aim for that day.

this is nice but some of it simply isn’t correct or at least misleading. For example Chris wrote:

Zone 2 Speed-strength (25-50% of max load): It is in this zone that we find the best compromise between power and speed. If you train in this zone you will get important gains in power and speed, however the gains in limit strength will be marginal. With this training zone it is best to use accommodating resistance (bands or chains) to, once again, reduce deceleration time which will help maximize speed and power development.

Its almost like saying if you mainly want to increase speed and power use this zone? why? I can’t think of anything farther from the truth. If I were limited for time and had to pick which means and methods I would use to augment my track training this would the last zone I would pick. I’d prefer to use the max strength development methods (80-100%) with a low reps.

I understand that strength training is a spectrum, and I indeed train along that spectrum, however we can get too finite or make false statements about combining diff types of training. For example Zone 4 type work can be done in conjunction with fast training in the right amt. Why couldn’t wouldn’t you do the following?

1. warm-up then drills
2. 2 sets x 1-2 reps Olympic lifts
3 or 4) 2 -4x 20m flying sprints
3 or 4) 3-6 x MultiThrows with shot/medball

rest 15 mins and repeat (2,3,4).

However I find that a good way to estimate the CNS state of an athlete is to test his vertial jump. I use the FitroDyne unit, establish a baseline power output during a maximal vertical jump (let’s say 1300W) and before each training session (after a proper warm-up) I test the athlete’s power output. I

[/b][/QUOTE]

… instead of power outpunt during a maximal vertical jump, can i test my vertical jump or standing long jump as a good way to “estimate” my cns state?
valerio

KT, that’s not at all what I’m saying. I meant that it is in this zone that power output is maximized and that velocity is still high, thus it can be a very good training zone.

Personally if I were to select only one training zone it would be zone 3.

HOWEVER understand that the zone will NOT be the same for the olympic lifts. I used basic strength movements (squats and bench press) in this test (it was done for a powerlifting-related article). Understand that the olympic lifts are explosive by nature, if you go slow you likely won’t make the lift… in strength lifts you can go slow and still make it. As a result, maximum power in the olympic lifts is closer to 75-85% (for me it’s 80% in the snatch and 85% in the clean).

I’m in the process of mapping the power velocity chart for all types of lifts, but it’s a long process (especially since I’m busy). This first chart was only the beginning.

ok makes more sense…i think i understood what you were getting at but sometimes people take this stuff and run crazy.

Great info Chris, I guess it backs up some of the things I’ve been thinking myself

I must get myself a micro musclelab

are there other simple tests to estimante the cns stato of an athlete?
valerio

Christian Thibaudeau,

I don’t get it, how does testing vertical jump discriminate between muscle fatigue and CNS fatigue? Either could be the cause of VJ being down on a particular day…

That’s totally true … however because of the nature of the effort during a single vertical jump, muscular fatigue (which is most often due to a depletion of the energy reserves, especially glycogen) is not likely to affect the performance of only one jump, performed before a training session because glycogen content of a muscle doesn’t affect a single vertical jump effort.

Your point holds true if the muscle fatigue is due to muscular lesions (microtrauma) which could decrease the contractile capacities of the muscle.

The vertical jump test before a session is nothing new. It has been used by Russian lifters in the past, quite successfully. But like most field tests it remains just an indicator or what the situation might be. Blind application of a test, without analysing the athlete’s demeanor is pointless.

Obviously it’s easy to critique the validity of this test, or of ANY field test for that matter. Field tests cannot hold water when compared to laboratory tests as far as validity is concerned. However as a coach it can give you a good indication of the athlete’s trainability for the day.

Chris,
you said if you had to pick one it would be zone 2. And i do understand that you are refering ot the powerlifts. SO in Zone 2 how many reps and sets would you suggest training at for a sprinter. You have zone 2 listed at 55-80%. Thats a huge difference. How do you decide?

Thanks Christian…
my next question is then how do you assess CNS fatigue in a lab test? Are you suggesting voluntary vs tetanic stimulated contractions or interpolated twitch work or something else?

I agree a VJ might be useful to assess your overall physical state on a given day, though it tells you nothing about CNS vs peripheral fatigue. Muscle damage as you suggest will impair performance and as far as I’m aware it’s pretty common in response to sprint exercise particularly in fast twitch motor units which will affect performance in a max effort like a VJ…