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:
Peak power occurs at 50-55% on average
Submaximal power (90-100% of max power) is produced with loads ranging from 40 to 65% of maximum
Maximum velocity is reached with the lightest tested load (10%); it is quite possible that it could be even higher with lighter loads
Submaximal velocity (90-100% of max velocity) is produced with loads ranging from 10 to 25% of maximum
There is an inverse proportional relationship between velocity and load: the higher the load, the slow the bar speed
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
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.