One of the keys for strength training as it relates to sport performance is MVC (maximum voluntary contraction). When our athletes are training, we stress to them the importance of intent. Especially when the athletes are doing Olympic pull variations and heavy core lifts (squats, deadlifts, pushes, and pulls).
For example, if an athlete has 100 pounds loaded on the bar, we don’t want them lifting with 110 pounds of effort, because the velocity of the bar will be slow (just enough effort to overcome the load). Rather, we want our athletes lifting with as much effort as possible, for example having the INTENTION to apply 500lbs of force is what we want from our athletes. The intent to move an object as fast as possible is one of the keys to maximizing nervous system development and recruiting large amounts of muscle fibers.
Now, the MVC is not the end all, be all to a training session; it goes much deeper than that. However, it remains a key principle for how we train our athletes. MVC will primarily be utilized during our speed, power, and primary strength work.
Think of each training session following a continuum. We start VERY slow with stretching and foam rolling. This is followed by a gradual increase in speed with our dynamic warm ups, finished off with jumping movements after about 15-20 minutes of getting loose. Once an athlete is done with jumping variations, they will progress to Olympic lifting variations which are performed with MVC ON EVERY, SINGLE, REP. Once their Olympic variations are complete, they’ll progress to primary strength work that again primarily emphasizes MVC on the concentric portion of each rep. Now, there are situations in which we will assign tempo work during the eccentric, isometric, and concentric muscle actions for various reasons, but most of the time we will emphasize the intent to move as quickly as possible on every single rep.
During supplementary and accessory movements is where we will generally have athletes slow down and spend more time under tension (King TUT, another principle of training). We have athletes slow down for several different reasons
- Reinforcement of movement patterns (i.e. Supplementary movements; those which closely mimic the primary movements)
- Working on proprioceptive awareness; where your body is located in space
- Building muscle mass
- Building tendon & ligament strength
- Overall development of an athlete’s fitness
A sample training session might look like this
- Stretch/foam roll x5-10 minutes
- Dynamic warm up x15-20 minutes
- Low Box Jump 3×5 with 75 seconds rest
- Broad Jump 3×5 with 75 seconds rest
- Clean High Pull off Blocks 5×3 @70% 1RM with 2 minutes rest
- Front Squat 6×4 @75%1RM with 2-3 minutes rest; work on mobility during rest periods
- DB RDL 4×10 (with a tempo of 2:0:2) paired with below
- Weighted Push Ups 4×10 paired with below
- Chest supported DB Row 4×15-20 (with a tempo of 2:1:2) ; Rest for 2 minutes between circuits
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