Apr 19, 2018
Better Rate of Return

Rate of force development (RFD) is a measure of explosive strength, which is key to athletic performance. Athletes with higher rates of force development are more likely to perform better, and therefore this is an important area to focus on during training. First, it’s important to understand what RFD is, and then you can start to incorporate the exercises that will be the most effective.

According to Science for Sport, RFD refers to how fast an athlete can develop force. More specifically, this is defined as the speed in which the contractile elements of the muscle can develop force. Athletes with a high RFD will be able to develop larger forces in a shorter period of time, making them more explosive with their movements.

RFD training is typically separated into two categories based on the stretch-shortening cycle (SCC), which is based on the duration of a movement. For example, a countermovement jump is classified as a slow-SSC movement because the duration of the SSC lasts approximately 500 milliseconds. On the other hand, sprinting is classified as a fast-SSC movement because the duration of the SSC last between 80-90 milliseconds. The goal should be to train both slow and fast SCC movements.

Another example of a slow-SCC movement is a race walk, while a drop jump can be either fast or slow depending on how it’s performed. Examples of fast-SCC movements are sprinting, long jump, and multiple hurdle jumps. Some other exercises to consider are the isometric mid-thigh pull, mid-thigh clean pull, and the squat jump.

Along with training different types of movements, athletes should also train with different types of weight. According to Science for Sport, training only maximum strength will likely only help an athlete improve in that one area. A training program therefore needs to combine both strength and power training in order to promote RFD. Science for Sport recommends incorporating resistance training, ballistic training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometric training, and balance training, as they have all shown to improve RFD.

High RFD means more explosive strength, which is key to athletic performance. According to Science for Sport, research has shown that RFD has been directly linked to performances during jumping, weightlifting, cycling, sprinting, and even during the golf swing. The variety of benefits are likely not limited to these few examples, though, as explosive movement plays a major role in nearly every sport. Consider the specific needs of your athletes and the demands of the sport, and then look for ways to incorporate relevant exercises that will enhance RFD. If done correctly, this can help athletes take their game to the next level.

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