Dr. Squat taught us about Compensatory Acceleration
The title of the article below is misleading because we all know that there is no easy way to get stronger or become more powerful and explosive. The way described in this article could be called simple, but it's never easy to improve. This "study" gives evidence to the fact that intent to move the bar fast yields an improved RFD (rate of force development). Like most strength training studies, this has quite a few limitations. Using only bench press is one issue. The 6 week duration is another. But I have to agree with their conclusion based on years of training and experience coaching. We all know that lifts like the Snatch and Clean along with Jerks and their variations inherently develop power by increasing RFD. But even the typical strength oriented lifts such as various squats and presses can also improve RFD when the lifter moves the bar or resistance as fast as possible. I was first introduced to this idea in the early 1970's. Our lifting coach, Lester Cramer, came up with an idea of using automotive shock absorbers as resistance in several pressing and squatting contraptions that he invented and even marketed. The idea didn't make as much money as he hoped, but it did provide a way to push all out against a slow moving resistance and we got more powerful with real weights. During that same era, Jon Cole at ASU (Arizona State University) was using an idea termed Isokinetics on the tail of Isometrics which was the rage in the 60's. Isometrics, of course was done by exerting force against an immovable object, usually inside of a power rack which was invented for that purpose. It worked and also sold a lot of racks, but as time passed we realized that isometrics was never the whole answer, but could be used in in the right contexts to spur improvement. The same with Isokinetics. Jon Cole marketed a rack type device that allowed a bar to move vertically against a resistance that maintained a constant speed, even when the lifter exerted more force. It had a centrifugal pulley of sorts. We had one of these in the weight room at BYU when I was a freshman there. Today there are a variety of units available that use air, rubber bands, and other types of resistance. In the 80's the legendary Dr. Squat, Fred Hatfield coined the term Compensatory Acceleration which meant moving the bar as fast as possible through the range of motion. Weightlifters
(which is where Fred began his lifting career) have always intuitively followed such a protocol. So, the take home message is....if you want to improve RFD, lift with the intent to move the bar as fast as possible. It has worked for generations and still works today.
Athletes are always looking for the newest secret to increase strength and explosive power. We are never short on methods to use for these goals—Vertimax, Olympic lifts, training super heavy, etc. But what if you could get stronger and faster without new methods, but from a simple change in execution? González Badillo et al. looked into this.
Twenty physically active participants were assigned to two Bench Press groups:
Both groups controlled the eccentric (lowering portion) of the lift.
They trained 3 times per week for 6 weeks. From week 1 to week 6, intensities increased from 60% 1RM to 80% 1RM.
Both groups performed the same lifting program with the only difference being one group accelerating the bar up as fast as possible (Maximal Intent) and the other performing the upwards portion at a lower speed (Intentionally Slow).
Both groups got stronger from the study and increased average velocity (speed) at light and heavy loads.
However, the Maximal Intent group had "significantly greater improvements in all strength performance variables analyzed." They increased their 1RM an average of 18.2% versus only 9.7% in the Intentionally Slow group—that's nearly double the strength gain!
They also saw greater gains than the Intentionally Slow group in average velocity at light (36.2 % versus 17.3%) and heavy (11.5% versus 4.5%) loads.
The researchers concluded training with Maximal Intent is a fundamental component of training since, "for a given loading magnitude (%1RM), the velocity at which loads are lifted largely determines the resulting training effect."
Training at Maximal Intent is crucial to optimizing results. This simple change in execution can significantly increase strength and power. Whatever methods you choose to use in your training, ensure you are exploding upwards with Maximal Intent. It has the potential to give you twice the strength and velocity gain.
González-Badillo, J. J., Rodríguez-Rosell, D., Sánchez-Medina, L., Gorostiaga, E. M., & Pareja-Blanco, F. (2014). "Maximal intended velocity training induces greater gains in bench press performance than deliberately slower half-velocity training." European Journal of Sport Science, 14(8), 772-81.
The legendary Jon Cole