If you are looking to increase muscle size or hypertrophy, you probably know there are multiple methods of doing this. However, understanding the basics of the force velocity relationship can help you get the most out of your training. If you’re following basic physiological principles, it doesn’t matter so much as to which program you’re following.
The Force Velocity Curve
In order to create high levels of force, more time is needed, which mean moving at a lower velocity. This lower contraction velocity means that lots of muscular cross bridges are activated. In contrast, as the velocity of a contraction increases, fewer cross bridges are able to form, leading to a decrease in force. You have most likely experienced this multiple times in the real world. To keep things gym based, think of a squat. Squatting 50% of your 1RM is fast and doesn’t require as much force. However a 1RM attempt (even if you’re trying to be fast) is going to be much slower, because you need the time to create the force.
How This Relates To Hypertrophy
The force-velocity relationship will determine how much tension is placed on a muscle fibre. The slower the contraction the greater the force. These high forces lead to high levels of mechanical tension and therefore hypertrophy. However, when you deliberately slow the speed of contraction, or how slowly you lower the bar, you are not at a maximal contraction. This means you may not be at complete muscle recruitment. As a result, high threshold motor units, which control large muscle will not be contracted and won’t stimulate effective growth.
Using This To Guide Your Training
So we know we need to use slow bar speeds in order to create high amounts of force. Unfortunately, we may not reach our full potential if we are too deliberate or never reach maximal force. Therefore, slow bar speeds MUST be achieved under HIGH LOADS that require full force. In addition, slow bar speeds & high loads UNDER FATIGUE will ensure all motor units are recruited, allowing for a full recruitment and potential for growth.
At NK Fitness we pride ourselves on keeping up to date with research, which allows our Expert Personal Trainers in Surrey to deliver the best session for you. No matter what program you follow, if you want hypertrophy remember these 3 key points.
- Slow Bar Speeds
- Heavy loads
- Under Fatigue