Force/ Velocity Curve

force velocity curve Jul 01, 2022

Edited by: Danielle Abel

Force Velocity Curve Relationship

The force-velocity curve will affect neuromuscular adaptations for athletes. For example, moving really fast compared to moving with a great deal of resistance.

So it's extremely important to understand the needs of your athletes to help you create and customize an effective year-round training program.


Sprinting (low resistance) is at the very bottom of the speed category. Conversely, a powerlifter doing a 1RM movement (high resistance) is on the top in the maximal strength category.

Various types of training are in between these categories. 

Maximal Strength:

  • >90% 1RM
  • High effort

Such as slow grinding reps or a 1RM for bench or squat


  • 4-6 RM loading
  • Slower

Such as a box squat with 80% 1RM


  • 30-80% 1RM
  • Greater force and speed

Such as olympic lifting movements like the power clean or a loaded jump squat


  • Dynamic effort
  • Explosive strength

Such as 8 sets of 3 reps with 50% load


  • Max velocity and low resistance

Such as jumping or cutting, throwing, or sprinting

How does this apply to training decisions?

We want to program from general training in the off-season to more sports-specific training as season or competition approaches.


Example: Powerlifter in the off-season

  • Hypertrophy work
  • Dynamic effort work
  • Goal: Drive different adaptations

Example: Powerlifter approaching competition

  • Shift programming to emphasize more sport-specific exercises
  • Singles, doubles, and triples close to competition weight
  • Goal: Prepare for competition weight

Max Effort Training:

Typically you'll keep low volume, so training adaptations promote improved neural drive, motor unit recruitment, and type II muscle fiber hypertrophy.

Speed Training:

Training adaptations include intra- and inter-muscular synchronization, rate coding, and rate of force development. These adaptations are transient unless they are continually trained.

Overall Concept:

  • Training at each zone will shift that zone on the graph toward the desired goal (ex: increased strength or increased speed)
  • Training adaptations are very specific, so it's important to be strategic & specific with your programming to maximize athlete training outcomes.

Support & Courses Available

Ready for even more support? Our Program Design 101 Course teaches you exactly how to organize an annual training plan and provides sport-specific examples, and even includes done for you programming templates by phase. Click the link here to check it out.

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