It has been over a decade since the seminal paper was published, showing the theoretical underpinnings of the force-velocity profile for enhancing power output and athletic performance. Since then, a multitude of research has followed, confirming its effectiveness.
The force-velocity profile represents the athlete’s strength and speed capabilities and the imbalance of their optimal profile, resulting in improved power output and jump height.
But how can you use force-velocity profiling as a combat sports athlete, and why would you want to?
What Is Force-Velocity Profiling?
Force-velocity profiling, also known as power-force-velocity profiling, represents the individual relationship an athlete possesses between strength and speed. It tells you the capabilities of the legs to maximally generate force, power, and velocity . It can be done using the vertical jump or sprint.
The relationship between force and velocity is inverse and linear. Meaning, that as force increases, velocity decreases and vice versa. The force-velocity profile represents the extremes at either end of the spectrum.
These are theoretical maximum force (F0) and theoretical maximum velocity (V0). F0 signifies the maximum force produced at zero velocity (no movement). V0 signifies how quickly the legs can extend under zero load (removing all bodyweight). Maximal power (Pmax) is the product of force and velocity.
Why are these values important? They characterize the limits of the entire neuromuscular system and muscular properties . For example, rate of force development, length-tension relationships, tendon properties, and motor unit recruitment, to name a few.
The real value, in my experience, is the ability to create optimal force-velocity profiles. Based on highly complex calculations (which you don’t need to know or do yourself), you can compare your current force-velocity profile to an optimal profile that would maximize power and jump height.
FREE Strength & Conditioning Program To Never Gas Out In The Cage
If I’ve got the wheels in your head turning, you may realize that this test can influence your strength training program to laser target the physical qualities you need to develop to maximize power output.
Why Are Force-Velocity Profiles Great For Combat Sports?
This one test can provide a wealth of information about a fighter. But why a force-velocity profile over a vertical jump test? We know that explosive ability is directly related to maximal power and the contractile ability of the muscle .
That is why the vertical jump height makes a great field test for indirectly assessing power output. However, athletes can possess similar jump heights but wildly different combinations of F0 and V0. Therefore, how do you know if speed or strength is lacking to maximize power output?
Further, while not having the same influence on jump height, reducing the imbalance between optimal and current force-velocity profiles (bringing them closer together) increases jump height . Therefore, you can shift the force-velocity profile without improving maximal power while enhancing jump height.
The force-velocity profile paired with the optimal profile gives you this information on a platter to lead your programming in the gym. The importance of this cannot be understated since many physical determinants of performance, such as punching hard and shooting takedowns, come from strong and powerful legs.
Mistaking Force-Velocity With Load-Velocity Profiles
Before breaking down how to do this test, it’s important to distinguish between a force-velocity and a load-velocity profile, as they can often be confused. While the specifics of the tests are similar, the outputs and use are different.
A load-velocity profile involves performing an exercise over a range of loads. For example, performing a squat with 0%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70% 1RM. The goal is to find the load that maximizes power output to train at that load.
Force-velocity profiling involves performing squat jumps at set loads or percentages of bodyweight to create your individual and optimal profile. Providing information on where the force-velocity spectrum you will focus your training.
Both are useful. But load-velocity profiles are only valid for the exercise you test. In contrast, force-velocity profiles influence your entire program from one exercise.
How Do You Find A Force-Velocity Profile?
While you can find force-velocity profiles from sprinting and jumping, I will only focus on jumping for three reasons:
- Jumping is highly applicable for combat sports as vertical force and power production underpins many combat sports actions.
- Sprinting presents a high risk of injury, especially in combat athletes who don’t run for their sport.
- Sprint profiles don’t present an optimal profile, so it is harder to determine whether there is a force or velocity deficit without comparing to other fighters.
Also, I lay out exactly how to do this test and how to use the data to create your training program with pictures and video in my Warrior Strength For Combat Sports Online Course.
Creating a jump force-velocity profile starts with taking some measurements in centimeters. You’ll need a partner to help with this test. Use the My Jump 2 app to note these measurements.
Step 1: Measure Leg Length
Lying on your back, find the greater trochanter at the side of your leg. It’s the bony point close to your shorts pocket. Point your toes forward and measure from this point to the top of your toes. Note this down. This is the leg length measurement.
Step 2: Measure The Bottom Of The Jump
Keep the measuring tape against your greater trochanter and stand up. Squat down until approximately 90° knee angle or where you feel most powerful to jump from. Note this measurement to the floor. This is the height at 90° measurement.
Step 3: Measure From Bum Crease To Floor
In the same position, have your partner measure from your glute/hamstring tie-in or bum crease to the floor. This is where you will note the height of the box you’ll need to do the test. You can also measure from the shoulder AC joint if you use a barbell on the safety pins in a rack.
Step 4: Setup
Set up your box, so it’s the height you measured. You’ll need to add plates to get it accurate. Make sure it’s in front of your squat rack.
Step 5: Record Your Jumps
Set your phone or iPad camera to the slow-motion setting and have your partner place the device vertically on the floor, so you’re recording your feet. Complete 2-3 jumps at each load, pausing on the box each rep.
Start with a PVC pipe or wooden dowel for the unloaded jump. Then continue with 20-, 40-, and 60 kg for males. Females can progress with 15-, 30-, and 45 kg.
Step 6: Analyse Each Jump
Load each clip separately to analyze. Pick the take-off frame when the feet completely leave the ground and the landing frame when any foot touches the floor.
Step 7: Select Best Jumps
In the app, select the highest jump at each load and calculate the force-velocity profile. That’s it!
How To Interpret A Force-Velocity Profile
Luckily for us, the My Jump 2 app does it for us. If you don’t want to use the app for whatever reason, JB Morin has a spreadsheet you can use instead with a tutorial linked on this page. The app is much simpler, in my experience.
Once you’ve analyzed your force-velocity profile, you’ll be presented with your numbers. Percentage imbalance, V0, F0, and Pmax. You can use this table as a reference for quantifying the imbalance :
- High Force Deficit >40%
- Low Force Deficit 10-40%
- Well-Balanced 0-10%
- Low-Velocity Deficit 10-40%
- High-Velocity Deficit >40%
Each category will dictate how much volume of strength, power, or speed exercise you perform.
How To Create A Training Program From Your Force-Velocity Profile
Once you’ve identified your category, you can use this information for your training program. Take, for example, the low force deficit category. Sitting here may prioritize maximal strength and power with loaded jumps, Olympic lifts, and heavy lower body exercises.
In contrast, a high-velocity deficit will focus on assisted and unloaded jumps, lightly loaded jumps, and minimal volume of heavier power work.
A well-balanced program will involve a mixture of them all.
Does Force-Velocity Profiling Work?
One paper to date suggests training to optimize your force-velocity profile confers no further benefit to individualizing your training . It’s difficult to speculate why, and the authors suggest that shifting the entire force-velocity profile up and to the right to maximize power output is more important.
I agree with this. However, prioritizing speed makes sense if you already display a highly force-dominant profile. You will enhance power output and reduce the force-velocity imbalance allowing you to pick the low-hanging fruit to improve athleticism.
When training based on your force-velocity profile, we see more significant improvements in jump performance than traditional strength training programs . I’ve used force-velocity profiling extensively myself and published research on the topic.
For example, here’s an athlete who enhanced maximal power while reducing their force-velocity imbalance while improving vertical jump height.
If you are a striker, this can translate to greater force generated when striking. If you’re grappling, this can translate to more powerful shots.
We must also take into account the combat sport. Grapplers may benefit from a force-dominant profile, whereas strikers may benefit from a velocity dominant profile. MMA athletes likely want a well-balanced profile depending on their style.
Force-velocity profiling is also applicable when measuring before and after a taper. My research focused on seeing changes in the force-velocity profile when removing most of the resistance training stimulus within 3 weeks.
We found significant changes in jump performance at all loads, maximal power, and force . I speculate this was due to the heavy strength training bias leading into this taper, causing force capabilities to recover with the reduction in strength training volume.
Force-velocity profiling is an excellent tool for combat sports athletes. It can influence your strength training program, so you focus on what you need instead of targeting your weaknesses and improving power output. More powerful legs will equal the potential for harder strikes and shots.
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