So, something I have noticed happen when people lift weights is that they are concerned with how fast they are moving the weight, and that a thought process that moving the bar or weight slowly is an issue.
Something I try to get across to my clients is that this isn’t always an issue.
The Force Velocity Curve
The force-velocity curve is simply a relationship between force and velocity and can, therefore, be displayed on an x-y graph (Figure 1). The x-axis (i.e. horizontal axis) indicates velocity, for example, this may represent muscle contraction velocity, or velocity of movement (measured in meters per second). Whilst the y-axis (i.e. vertical axis) indicates force, for example, this may represent muscle contractile force or the amount of ground reaction force produced (measured in Newtons).
As for the majority of sessions and clients we are looking at getting you stronger, less prone to injury and to build muscle to increase fat loss, so we are working in those ranges of the graph for a reason. There aren’t many PT clients looking to improve their Speed-Strength, power or rate of force development as it often isn’t necessary.
So, if you are increasing the weight and it is heavy for you, don’t worry that it is moving slowly as this is supposed to happen! As long as you move it well, with control and correct form, if it is slow don’t panic. This is natural.
If for example, you are lifting specific, prescribed weights say % of your max lift numbers and you are working within the 85-90% ranges of your lifts then again, it is supposed to be heavy as you are working in that far left-hand corner of the force-velocity graph!
It doesn’t mean that the weight is too heavy for you or you shouldn’t be lifting it!!
There is an issue that arises however
One issue that I think arises from lifting weights is that people chase numbers on the bar too much.
What I mean by this is that they are only concerned with putting more and more load onto the barbell or lifting the next heaviest dumbbell.
This isn’t the worst attitude to have as yes, increasing the weight will make you stronger and healthier and induce all the benefits we know strength training will have.
However my question to you is, why not try and lift a lighter load but with greater velocity?
Let me explain…
What is strength?
“The ability to resist or produce great force”
What is force?
Force is equal to mass multiplied by acceleration.
F = M x A
Force = Mass x Acceleration.
So what does all that mean?
So, if strength is our ability to produce force, and force is the sum of mass x acceleration we can improve our force by two variables. Mass and Acceleration.
Still with me?
My point above is that people of the general population often look to just increase the Mass portion of this formula and not the acceleration section.
So, next time you are looking at increasing the load by another 2.5kg why not look at lifting that load of a lighter load with maximum intent and greater velocity to elicit the same benefits and produce a similar result (increasing force thus increasing strength).
I may do a blog post on this more in-depth soon on how exactly lifting lighter loads lifted with greater velocity can elicit similar benefits to those of higher load with slower velocity.