Why Increase Rate of Force Development?

Rate of force development is the speed at which force is produced.  If you can produce force at a greater speed you will be able to produce faster and more explosive motions.  We have two types of muscle fibers, fast twitch and slow twitch.  Slow twitch motor units contain slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are recruited first.  Fast twitch motor units contain fast twitch muscle fibers, which are recruited next.   Slow twitch motor units produce force, fast twitch motor units produce even more force, and when recruited simultaneously they can produce most force.  For explosive movements, we want to enable recruitment of the motor units to take place in a shorter amount of time.

Rate of force development allows a muscle to reach higher levels of force in the early phase of a muscle contraction.   When a muscle begins to contract and produce force the elastic elements of the muscle stretch causing it to lengthen.  When the muscle stretches sufficiently it stiffens and allows the desired movement of the muscle.   In order to reach peak performance of the muscle you have to decrease the time between the contraction of the muscle and the lengthening of the muscle.  When more motor units stimulate more muscle fibers of a given muscle, the muscle can stretch to its sufficient length more rapidly.  When this happens you decrease the time between initiation of force and initiation of movement.  To increase your rate of force development try adding some explosive exercises to your workout!


Article written by Jocelyn Larson, one of the fantastic Fitness Staff at the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center.  Contact her at (406) 994-6309 for more information about personal training and other health/fitness programming.


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