The first section on the force-velocity curve is the maximum strength section. The max strength section occurs when an athlete is training above 90% of his or her 1RM. There has also been research that shows that when an athlete is training above 80% of their 1RM that they are training maximum strength qualities. However, this could be considered more circa-max strength work. In the maximum strength section, an athlete is aiming to produce the maximum amount of force possible. There is no time constraint in this section, meaning the bar can move as slow as it needs to complete the rep. Exercises that are commonly trained in the maximum strength phase would include mainly compound lifts such as the bench, squat, and deadlift.
The maximum strength section is the first one on the curve and is largely necessary for every athlete to train at some point. Oftentimes, athletes can work from the far left of the curve to the right. Meaning they can progress from max strength to strength speed and so forth. But athletes usually should not work the other way such as starting with max velocity then moving to speed strength. The reason is that athletes need to have a strength base before they start progressing into more specialized work such as strength speed or speed strength. This makes the maximum strength vital to nearly all athlete's development processes. In sports such as sprinting less time may be spent in the maximum strength phase because the ultimate goal of the sport is maximum velocity. However, sprinters should still spend some time in the phase to build a strength base and prepare them for later training modalities. But in an event such as the shot put where a premium is placed on strength, an athlete may spend more time in the maximum strength phase.
The only sport that is purely maximum strength-based is powerlifting. Any sport other than powerlifting has a certain time constraint introduced. Cal Dietz has done some work showing the amount of time certain sports have to produce maximum force. For example, in the shot put an athlete has about .18 seconds to produce as much force as possible. This is the time constraint that is introduced, so the athlete must be able to produce large amounts of force in this window of time. The key being that an athlete must first be able to produce large amounts of force before they can produce that force under a time constraint. Thus, the need for a quality maximum strength base. As outlined above athletes that have less time produce force the less that athlete should spend in the maximum strength phase once a quality strength base is achieved.
I have spoken a lot about a maximum strength base, and you may ask what qualifies as an adequate strength. This is a large topic of debate in the strength and conditioning world. However, at Peak Performance we feel that an athlete should be able to bench press 1.5 times their body weight, squat 2 times their body weight, and trap bar deadlift 2.5 times their body weight. These numbers are not black and white, but athletes should aim to get their strength levels to this number to maximize their training. Overall, the maximum strength phase is vital to nearly all athletes. The simple goal of this section is to move as much weight as possible.
If you feel that these goals are out of reach with your current training program get in touch with us and we can devise a plan to help you reach your goals. Please contact us with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!
*Peak Performance is not a medical practice, the recommendations in this article should not be taken as a treatment for any condition or illness. As always we recommend meeting with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen.