olympic shot put

Power = Force x Velocity

Optimal power production is achieved by maximizing the product of force and velocity, so both aspects of training need to be trained to ensure maximal training adaptations. 

In The optimal training load for the development of muscular power, Kawamori & Haff show how heavy strength training and explosive strength training affect the force-velocity curve uniquely. 

Effects of Heavy Strength Training


Effects of Explosive Strength Training

Combining both methods will yield optimal results, as explained in the video below.

A more recent paper titled Effects of strength versus ballistic-power training on throwing performance Zaras et al. elucidated the unique fiber type adaptations from heavy versus ballistic training methods. Both types of training improve muscular power through slightly different mechanisms. 

Jonathan Fass and I discussed this same topic in Strength of Evidence Podcast 3: Olympic versus Powerlifting, so if you click this link you can listen to that podcast and also see plenty of research on the topic as we posted and reviewed 7 different articles pertaining to power development. 

However, I wanted to bring attention to these two papers I recently stumbled upon (the Kawamori paper is actually from 2004, whereas the Zaras paper was just published last month). 

In the video below, I further discuss the Kawamori paper and show why combined training (heavy and explosive) is needed to maximize muscular power development.

Examples of heavy strength training include:

heavy squats, front squats, deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, bench press, close grip bench press, hip thrusts, military press, chins, incline press, rows, curls, shrugs, Bulgarian split squats, good mornings, and back extensions

Examples of explosive strength training include:

jump squats, power cleans, power snatches, hang cleans, hang snatches, hex bar jumps, kettlebell swings, bench throws, plyo push ups, sled work, and dynamic effort lifts (submaximal explosive squats, deads, bench – using bands or chains on these makes them even better for this purpose)

If your goal is to maximize power development, make sure you’re performing heavy lifts, explosive lifts, as well as plyos and sprints.


  • Dwayne says:

    Would you suggest doing power and explosive movements in the same workout, or should there be a clear seperation? If it is ok to work on both in the same workout should power be before explosive or vice versa? For example, I am currently working on a DL program from “Easy Strength” where I am pulling every day at 70% 1RM.
    Monday 3×1, Tuesday 5×1, Wednesday 7×1, Thursday 9×1, Friday 11X1, Saturday 13×1
    Was thinking about doing Oly work Mon, Tues, Thur, and Fri after the Deadlifts.

    Thank You!

    • Bret says:

      Dwayne, your plan would work fine. Generally, most coaches program explosive work prior to heavy strength work. For example, plyos, sprints, Oly lifts come before the squats and deads. However, there are many ways to skin a cat. And if you’re doing the Easy Strength program, you could probably throw in some Oly work after the deadlifts just fine. I wouldn’t do too much volume though with your training frequency on deads. Cheers!

  • Michael says:

    Hey Brett,

    Great follow up to last weeks post! Glad you like the Kawamori & Haff article! To further back your case in a more recent review article you might want to have a look at Haff & Nimphius’s 2012 article on Training Principles for power (although you will need a membership to NSCA to view)


    It really drives home the message of utilising different loads and different exercises high force, high velocity (olympic lifts, high force low velocity (compound strength lifts), and low force high velocity (plyo’s, jump squat variations of dynamic effort compound lifts) for improving power.

    They also suggest that training at an optimal load or around an optimal is potentially superior than just picking prescribe %RM if you have the ability to test for this! I like to power profile athletes when I have the opportunity and determine if they need more strength/capacity, more rate of force development/speed or a combination of the two! Then I can shift the focus of my training towards the specific for them.

    But as you are aware there is no magic number for anyone, what we must do is continue to monitor our programs to determine if we are having a positive effect on our athlete or client’s performance.

    Keep up the work!!!


    • Bret says:

      Hey Michael, I have the Haff & Nimphius article (we reviewed it on the research review site). There is actually a surprising amount of research supporting training at “the optimal load,” and this is something I’d like to test as well. Regarding the force-velocity profiles of athletes, I’ve thought about this a ton, and I’m not sure how I’d augment the training based on the individual. With folks more on the F side of the spectrum, would you focus on their strengths (F), or would you bring up their weaknesses (V)? Would you shift the blend more one way or the other depending on the athlete, or would ever athlete train in a similar manner? Cheers, BC

      • Michael says:

        Good question Brett!

        I have read somewhere before that some athletes respond better to heavy lifting and some respond better to volume so with that said training this type of athlete with light loads may not be beneficial to there power development. As previously stated if the intention at a heavy load is still to move the bar fast research has shown that athletes display the same characteristics as those who use lighter loads and higher RFD’s so again higher loads could be preferable especially if you use olympic lifting techniques.

        So to answer your question I guess it would depend on the athlete and the overall goal of my strength program! Other things to consider would be contact vs non contact sport, linear or multidirectional sport, land based or water based.
        I think a lot of us get lost in who we are actually training at times and tend to follow trends and methods that are used for completely different reasons, I for one am guilty of this in the past!

        I’m sure some future research will suggest something completely different and I look forward to reading it haha.

        • Bret says:

          Great point about the type of athletes. But with ground-based sports, I’ve seen the same (Kelly Baggett is someone who I highly respect and he’s suggested that we should focus on the inherent weakness, so a strong guy would focus more on power and RFD whereas a powerful guy would focus more on force/strength). This is certainly true for me – when I focus on plyos and power I can put 6 inches onto my vertical jump in 2 months simply because I always train high force/heavy lifts. My body is good at that, but not good at expressing the force quickly. Good talk!

          • Michael says:

            Awesome thanks for the info, makes a lot of sense to address someone’s weaknesses in order to improve something fast!


  • Martin says:

    Hi Bret
    this post does a great job of summerising the situation. However, i still question the efficiency of using power weightlifting for a performance athlete. let’s take a swimmer, as i had just this discussion with a swimming coach. it seems grossly inefficient to train a swimmer in the weight room using power exercises targeting swimming muscles immitating aspects of the swimming movements. why not just swim? the swimmer would build power and the skill to apply the power incompetition.
    To use the terminology you employ so effectively in the post, weight training should train the muscles to provide force. Swimming would provide the velocity.
    Other legimate reasons for a swimmer training with weights would include

    a correct muscle imbalances
    b teach the swimmer to hold the humerus into the glenoid cup for injury prevention
    c teach the swimmer to feel and activate the muscles needed for swimming

    this can be done with standars compound exercises like bench press, lat pull, deadlift,squat and hip thrust. What do you think?

    • Bret says:

      Another great point. I definitely wouldn’t be focusing on Oly lifts and jump squats for swimmers. Heavy lifts as in the ones you mentioned and swimming for the most part, along with possibly some sport specific and corrective exercises relating to sprinting. Strength coaches like me tend to assume every sport requires ground-based explosion, which isn’t always the case.

      • Mick says:

        Are swimmers not required to generate maximum force as quickly as possible against the wall whilst turning? Is this SSC action not bio mechanically similar to a jump squat and if so can be enhanced using ground based plyo activities.

  • Jim says:


    Maybe add this to the ‘Suggested Research Topics’ :

    “What is the power profile of using a prowler?”

    Would’nt it be something If the prowler is equal to or better than the Olympic Lifts for developing power? Learning time: Prowler, 10 seconds; Olympic Lifts, 6 months. Which should I do ?!?

    • Bret says:

      Great question. Prowler and KB Swings could require the calculation of power by measuring horizontal and vertical forces along with velocity of COM data. You have system power, and you also have joint power data which examines the power outputs at individual joints such as the hip. I’d be curious to see how Oly lifts, jump squats, Prowler, and kb swings compare with each other across various loads.

      And another great point about the learning curve…which should always be taken into account with program design.

  • Andy... says:

    Your talking about maximizing power production without a single reference to core development?.

    “Martin says… Other legitimate reasons for a swimmer training with weights would include:

    a. correct muscle imbalances.”

    How on earth would you keep every muscle in balance when your doing: heavy squats, front squats, deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, bench press, close grip bench press, hip thrusts, military press, chins, incline press, rows, curls, shrugs, Bulgarian split squats, good mornings, and back extensions….


  • Pete says:

    Bret wrote: “combined training (heavy and explosive) is needed to maximize muscular power development”

    I’ve generally only considered doing one or the other and got limited results. I can understand the logic in doing the combined training but getting down to actually doing it on a regular basis is the tough bit 🙂 Keep focused on the end-goal, I guess

  • Matt says:

    I am currently working with three pro MMA fighters.
    I have them twice per week. We adhere to 1 day Heavy Strength Training (Wed) and 1 day Explosive Strength Training (Fri). Their scheduling allows only these two days for me to work with them and two of the athletes have fights on May 11. Would you continue with this strategy or would you consider applying both HST and EST on both of these training days. I appreciate your response brother! Matt

  • Marc says:

    I would suggest to experiment with all the possibilities. I have had good results when working with heavy loads before explosive workouts. Of course the volume has to be quite low. There are several studies about the fact that a set of high resistance exercises can increase explosiveness, but I think everybody has to find out what is best for him.

  • TC says:

    Hey Bret great video explaining how both the heavy strength training and explosive strength training affect the velocity and force curve.

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