The effectiveness of a strength exercise depends on its velocity. To be explosive, velocity must be high. Explosive strength is “the steepest increase in strength in the shortest possible time.” Jumping, bounding, plyometrics, and isokinetics are explosive. Olympic weightlifting is not; it is a speed-strength sport that does not build explosive power. Maximal strength is developed at low velocity by producing high force. Now, let’s get into the methods of accommodating resistanceAdvertisement
Maximal effort is at the weakest point of the strength curve (e.g., when using the pec deck and leg press). The greatest effort must be at the start, but approaching lockout (finish) it becomes easier due to the force-velocity.
This is training only in the range of a main sport movement that requires max strength. The legs, arms, and trunk start with no motion, accelerate, and then decelerate. Thus, accentuation trains only in the strongest position, not the weakest.
You must train with the correct amount of tension throughout the entire range of movement. Nautilus exercise machines (Arthur Jones was the creator; the idea, however, came from Dr. Gustav Zander in 1879) provided maximum tension throughout the range of motion with a special-shaped cam. Isokinetic machines provide accommodating resistance at a constant speed.
Resistance Method Combinations
Hill’s equation of muscle contraction states that weights at high velocity produce small force, whereas low velocity against max effort produces the highest force rating. Our system utilizes this in the following ways: (1) band tension with weights, with overspeed eccentrics that eliminate bar deceleration and create a faster stretch reflex, and (2) chain with weights, for accommodating resistance but without overspeed eccentrics.
Several Westside studies on overspeed eccentrics have been done, including one with Matt Smith (a then-SHW-950-pound squatter) as the test subject performing box squats (Dr. Akita, 2007). Eccentric and concentric phases totaled 0.9 seconds with bar weight only. This was then reduced and band tension added to yield a top (lockout) of 750 pounds and through band shrinkage the weight on the box was 550 pounds. (All Westside squats off boxes are at parallel.) Band tension pulling on the bar resulted in a faster eccentric phase of 0.57 seconds and the concentric phase was 0.54 seconds, thus .3 seconds faster and an additional 200 pounds through the range of motion. This was accomplished by increasing velocity in both phases (Faster Down = Faster Up). For speed squatting, use 25% band tension on bar loaded 50% to 60% of best squat.
Fourth week, return to 50% and add a set of 5/8-inch chain (one set adds 40 pounds per set). Bar speed for speed should be .8 m/s or .9 m/s. At the end of every three-week wave cycle, reduce bar weight back down to 50% and, in order to avoid accommodation, change the type of bar, band, or chain resistance used.
Do 6–10 single-speed pulls with bar weight at 50% of your best pull—band at top is about 30%.
To build strength speed or slow strength, use more band tension than bar weight. Our 1,200-pound squatters use 700 pounds band tension and 510 pounds bar weight (1,210 pounds). Their max weight ratio is 740 pounds bar weight and 440 pounds band tension (1,180 pounds). Top tension is very close to top contest squat. (In the picture here, Luke Edwards squats with 510 pounds bar weight and 440 pounds band tension equalling 950 pounds.) If using chain weight for strength training, use a lot of chain weight with a variety of specialty bars. Bands on the bars favorably cause more stretch reflex due to overspeed eccentrics. By stretching and contracting, bands work like ligaments and tendons, promoting optimal weight in the bottom and the top. Bands also work great with machines (e.g., pec deck, leg press, row, and lat pulldown) by providing optimal tension throughout the range of motion.
As Rowdy Roddy Piper said: “Just when you think you’ve got all the answers, that’s when Westside changes all the questions.” Well, at least that’s what Westside does.
Squat example for a 600-pound max squat:
Sample bench press by travis bell, a 580-pound raw bencher:
For more info: go to westside-barbell.com and westsideperformancenutrition.com