Most people are familiar with Newton’s Second Law of Motion. What people are less familiar with ar the implications of such a formula in training.
Heavy Lifting is Not The Only Way
Lifting big weights often is definitely part of getting stronger. As you advance, however, it’s also a recipe for overtraining and plateaus. You simply can’t lift heavy every day (at least without some exogenous assistance).
The second part of the F=ma equation clearly shows us that acceleration has just as much influence as the weight (mass) on the bar. Lifting fast is essential, and is critically underused.
Westside Barbell, the most renowned powerlifting gym in the world, have been using “dynamic effort” methods to produce the strongest men and women in the world.
The Russians were ahead of their time when they routinely employed Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT).
Sports teams call these sessions “speed-strength” sessions.
It all boils down to this - use a lighter weight and make it move faster.
Bands and Chains
The fundamental reason we use bands and chains to boost acceleration is that as we get closer to the end of the repetition (essentially the easy part of the lift), the bands/chains develop more tension and make the weight heavier. This means that you just can’t slack off towards the top of the repetition, but must accelerate through to the very end.
By using lighter weights (in the order of 50-60% 1RM) and moving quickly, we can boost our acceleration very significantly. In the case of the squat, for example, it also reduces the overall loading on the spine and knees which is crucial for recovery and preventing overtraining.
I’ve spoken about jumping, the stretch reflex, and its virtues in a previous post. Keep in mind that jumping has its place in maximal strength and power development too. Olympic lifters jump. Sprinters jump. CrossFitters jump. Gymnasts jump.
Jumping is simply accelerating your own body as quickly as possible.
There’s nothing like pulling heavy weights fast. Have you ever noticed that when you improve your Olympic lifts, all other strength performance markers seem to improve?
Again, the combination of weight on the bar (mass) and an intent to move that weight as fast as possible (acceleration).
Undoubtedly you’ll come across some of these training methodologies as you progress up the ladder from novice to elite. The further up that ladder you climb, the more creative you can be with these techniques.