Physical abilities largely determine the degree of success in sports, therefore any improvement of these characteristics can, most often will, lead to better results, but that is certainly much easier said than done.

Physical training has advanced over the years, and today we have a really deep understanding of both the mechanics of movement and muscle anatomy, as well as the support of technology and medicine. With the help of this newly acquired knowledge, the possibilities open to us are truly almost limitless.

Speed, strength, explosiveness, endurance are just some of the qualities that we can precisely and measurably influence in accordance with the required results.

How do we achieve this? How can we adjust the effects of training so individually?

In order to understand this, we first need to go through a couple of the most basic, but very innovative approaches to training: velocity-based training, force-velocity training, hypertrophy training, maximum force training and power training.

Each of these approaches will have a different effect and lead to different adaptations, so it is very important that all parameters are well known and applied regularly, according to plan.

Velocity-based training is an approach to training that focuses on tracking and measuring the speed at which movements are performed.

Most often, VBT equipment monitors the speed of weight movement. The goal is to achieve maximum speeds with each repetition of a given exercise. In this way, we generate the highest speed of force growth and mechanical tension in the muscles, but reduce fatigue and the possibility of injury because load management is adequately programmed.

Each athlete is approached individually, the “velocity profile” is measured and the 1RM value (maximum of one repetition) is determined in accordance with the obtained values, the optimal load is determined, more precisely the zone in which the training is carried out, which enables the achievement of the maximum speed of execution of movements and thus the achievement desired results and physiological adaptation of muscles.

This type of training is most useful for athletes who value explosive power, such as weightlifters or sprinters.

Force-velocity training is based on achieving maximum performance speed and achieving maximum strength. The main principle on which it rests is that the force produced by the muscle is directly proportional to the speed.

What exactly does that mean?

Well, that tells us that training with a higher load, i.e. higher weights and slower exercise performance will be more suitable for strength development, while lower loads but higher repetition speeds will lead to improvements in explosiveness (speed of force growth – RFD).

Thus, this type of training combines sets with heavy and light loads, fast and slower performances, in accordance with current needs and set goals.

Like the VBT approach, it is very important here to determine the parameters and that each training is individually adapted to the athlete.

Some of the athletes who can benefit from this type of training are soccer players, basketball players, rugby players…

Hypertrophy – (sarcoplasmic) is the process of increasing the density and volume of the sarcoplasm, so training based on this principle is based on the increase and growth of the muscles themselves.

How does it play out, what is behind this process?

When exposed to metabolic stress and when muscle fibers are damaged, our body reacts by recovering the micro-damages caused by training, but also starts their growth and creation of new ones. This means that by applying medium to stronger resistance, with a higher number of repetitions, we can stimulate muscle growth and adaptation to increased muscle volume.

Hypertrophy – (myofibrillar) can be called sports hypertrophy, i.e. hiptrophy used in working with athletes.

Why do we use it when working with athletes?

The main difference between sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy is in the physiological adaptation of the muscles.

What does it mean?

As previously mentioned, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy increases muscle volume, while myofibrillar hypertrophy is different. It is characterized by an increase in the cross-section of the muscles. For athletes, this is of essential importance in achieving results, because in addition to hypertrophy, they really gain in strength and power, and their muscles remain similar in volume. For this reason, myofibrillar or “sports” hypertrophy training is performed with a higher intensity, usually with an intensity that leads to the interruption of the exercise, or “failure” by the 6th repetition.

This whole process is a natural response of our body, but the science is in adjusting the training so that it causes the desired natural response of the organism.

Several principles help us in this:

Progressive overload: progresivno preopterećenje je postepeno povećanje intenziteta ili učestalosti treninga otpora kako bi se mišići stalno izazivali i prisiljavali da se prilagode i rastu. This can be achieved by increasing the load, the number of repetitions performed or the number of sets performed during training.

Specificity: the principle of specificity states that the type of training should be specific to the individual’s goals. For example, if the goal is to build muscle mass, then resistance training with heavy loads and more repetitions is more effective than a large number of repetitions with a lighter load.

Time Under Tension: Time under effort, or tension, is the amount of time a muscle spends under tension during a set. Increasing time can stimulate muscle growth by increasing metabolic stress on muscle cells. This is achieved by performing slower, controlled movements and increasing the number of repetitions.

Muscle damage: muscle damage is an essential component of hypertrophy, as it stimulates the recovery and adaptation process of muscle fibers. This can be achieved by performing exercises that cause eccentric contractions, such as slowly lowering a weight, or by performing exercises that cause micro-tears in the muscle fibers.

In addition to these principles, without adequate nutrition and recovery, hypertrophy will not occur, we must supply the body with enough quality building material and give it enough time to build it into old and new muscles.

This type of training is especially popular among bodybuilders and people who want mainly aesthetic results.

Maximum force is a type of training that focuses on developing the greatest possible strength and explosiveness.

It is based on the use of heavy loads and a small number of repetitions. The basis is the fact that the body adapts to the demands we present to it, and by lifting heavier weights, we not only encourage an increase in the cross-section of the muscles, but also the creation of neural adaptations to higher loads.

80% – 100% RM is recommended for each repetition and the desired number of repetitions is no more than 5, with an extended rest period between each performance.

Three main factors are important to keep in mind with this type of training:

  1. Motor unit recruitment: Motor units are groups of muscle fibers that are activated by motor neurons. When lifting heavy weights, multiple motor units are engaged to help generate force. Lifting heavy weights adapts the body by increasing the number of motor units that are activated, which leads to an increase in strength.
  2. Neural adaptations: overcoming greater loads also leads to neural adaptations, which involve changes in the nervous system and lead to improved muscle activation and coordination.
  3. Muscle fiber hypertrophy: Lifting heavy weights can also stimulate muscle fiber hypertrophy and increase muscle fiber size. This occurs in response to the stress placed on the muscles and can lead to improvements in strength and explosiveness.

When practicing this type of training, it is very important to pay attention to proper form and technique, otherwise injuries may occur. Also, raising the load level must be planned and gradual and the whole process must be followed by appropriate rest and recovery.

Power training takes an approach that focuses on developing explosive power and speed.

By combining dynamic movements such as jumps, throws or sprints with traditional strength exercises such as squats and deadlifts, a faster development of muscle strength is achieved.

This is the basis of this principle, it aims to reduce the time needed to achieve the maximum force in the muscles and thereby achieve greater explosiveness of each movement.

When designing an effective program that relies on power training, the following couple of principles should be considered:

  1. Specificity: the principle of specificity defines that the training program should be specific to the type of movement and skills required for the individual’s sport or activity.
  2. Overload: the principle of overload states that the body must be subjected to a greater load than it is used to in order to stimulate adaptation and improvement.
  3. Progression: the principle of progression implies a gradual increase in the intensity, scope or complexity of the training program over time.
  4. Plyometrics: Plyometric exercises involve fast, explosive movements that use the muscle’s stretch-shortening cycle.
  5. Speed and Agility Training: In addition to strength training, strength training programs should also include exercises that focus on speed and agility. These exercises can help improve reaction time, footwork and coordination, which are important for many sports and activities.
  6. Recovery: recovery is an essential component of strength training, as the body needs time to rest and repair itself after intense training.

It is especially useful in athletes who need explosive bursts of power such as basketball, football and athletics.

Now that we can look at all these principles we see that there is no clear one that is better than the others.

Our final conclusion:

Mechanical tension is the only true hypertrophy variable.

Time under tension, muscle damage, activation of motor units, and mind & muscle connection can have an impact on hypertrophy, but only if the variable of mechanical tension is satisfied.

Hypertrophy occurs when a single muscle fiber increases its volume. It can increase it longitudinally (increasing the length of the fascicles) or diametrically (by increasing the CSA).

If the mechanical tension comes from passive elements, it results in diameral hypertrophy – example concentric training.

If the mechanical tension comes from active elements, then it most often results in longitudinal hypertrophy. The best example for that is eccentric training.

In isometric contractions, a greater hypertrophic stimulus causes training of a controlled duration with greater muscle length, as well as better tendon function. Basically, a longer duration leads to a greater accumulation of metabolites and a possible increase in hypertrophy.

Training with low weights to failure provides the same hypertrophy stimulus as training with heavy weights. The difference is that with less weight loss, greater fatigue occurs centrally and peripherally, while with larger weight loss, a greater increase in strength is observed.

Fast eccentric contractions, although they engage a larger number of motor units, do not necessarily cause hypertrophy, for that mechanical tension is required – for example, supramaximal eccentric training.

A good coach must know how to combine all these methods, use the possibilities that modern technology provides, and adapt training to each practitioner and their current needs and desires.

We in the Recupero team do just that, with the help of science and experience we discover your full potential!