Rate of force development or RFD is a term that relates to the explosiveness of a movement. Think simply, “how fast can you develop force”. If you’re looking for a more scientific definition, you may find something such as the “the speed at which contractile elements of a muscle can develop force”. It is related to the stretch shortening cycle and has been shown to be a good marker of performance. Improving your RFD can improve your ability to jump, sprint and lift and more! So you can see why RFD is important for sports performance.


Adaptions That Increase Rate of Force Development

There are a number of proposed methods that underpin adaptions in the speed of force development.

  • Increased muscle tendon stiffness
  • Changes in muscle fibre type
  • Increased neural drive in the SSC

Think of your tendons as elastic bands, when firing a band across a room more tension = a further distance i.e. more force to send it further. The change from type I muscle fibres to type IIa is a shift from slow to fast twitch. Finally, an increase in neural drive is basically much better communication between your brain and muscle. The speed, strength and frequency of messages sent from the brain can all improve how quickly and effectively you can produce force.


How To Improve RFD

Multiple forms of training have been shown to improve RFD. Untrained or recreational gym goers may reap reward from any of the following methods.

  • Resistance Training
  • Ballistic Training
  • Olympic Weightlifting
  • Plyometrics
  • Balance Training

However, trained and athletic subjects may find it harder to see improvements. Current research suggests only Resistance training and ballistic training have a significant on these individuals.


In Conclusion

RFD is an important and reliable of measure of performance. It can be improved in multiple ways for the untrained individual. However, those of you who are more experience may have to be more precise in your training methods to see significant adaptations. At NK Fitness our Leading Personal Trainers in Twickenham and Expert Strength Coaches in Richmond, will all look to improve RFD in some form. It may not be the ultimate goal and it may be a slow burner but you will struggle to find a reason not to.

If you’re interested in how to test RFD, take a look HERE.