Maximal strength is simply the maximum amount of force someone is able to produce through a specific movement. For example, a 1RM Back Squat would represent the maximum amount of force an athlete can produce during that particular exercise. Therefore, this training zone is typically classified by using intensities of approximately >90% of 1RM.
Exercise examples include: Back Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press @ 90-100% of 1RM, or any other exercise using this range of intensity.
This is a classification for exercises that are not deemed to deliver peak power output, nor peak force, so it sits in a so called ‘middle-ground’ between maximal strength and peak power. As relatively high intensities are used within this zone (80-90% of 1RM), it leans more towards strength rather than speed – hence the ‘strength’-speed. The strength-speed zone requires an athlete to produce optimal force in a shorter timeframe than the maximal strength zone, and as discussed earlier, this reduces the amount of force that can be produced. Therefore, whilst the strength-speed zone may produce lower peak forces than the maximal strength zone, it is able to achieve higher movement velocities.
Example exercises include: Olympic lifts (i.e. Snatch, Clean & Jerk, Snatch Press @ 80-100% of 1RM).
This is a classification zone for exercises deemed to deliver peak power output. These exercises typically produce the greatest amount of force in the least amount of time. Essentially, power sits in the middle of strength-speed and speed-strength producing the optimal amount force in the shortest time timeframe possible (30-80% of 1RM).
Example exercises include: Second pull variations of the Clean and Snatch, Jump Squats, and Bench Press Throw @ 30-80% of 1RM.
Similar to strength-speed, this zone does not deliver peak power, nor peak velocity, so it sits in a ‘middle-ground’ between maximal velocity and peak power. Peak force would be expected to be even lower here compared to strength-speed due to the greater restriction on time available; however, movement velocities will be higher. As relatively high velocities are used within this zone (30-60% of 1RM), it leans more towards speed rather than strength – hence the ‘speed’-strength.
Example exercises include: Slow stretch-shortening plyometric drills such as: countermovement jumps, and single-leg high hurdle jumps. Light-loaded Jump Squats (30-60% of 1RM).
Maximal velocity is simply the maximum movement velocity, or muscle contractile velocity an athlete is able to produce through a specific movement. For example, a 100m Sprint may represent the maximum movement velocity an athlete can produce during that particular exercise. Whereas, assisted sprinting, otherwise known as ‘supramaximal sprinting’ can produce ≥ 100% movement velocities. Therefore, this training zone is typically classified by using intensities of approximately < 30% of 1RM.
Exercise examples include: Fast stretch-shortening plyometric drills such as: hopping, bounding, sprinting and assisted sprinting.
These different training zones are merely guidelines to various intensities and can be manipulated to fit the athlete in hand. They have been developed by exercise professionals for educational purposes in order to demonstrate the effects of different exercises and intensities on athletic performance. However, each training zone, or section of the force-velocity curve, will provide different physiological adaptations, and therefore may have its own benefit for the athlete. For example, if an athlete is very strong (i.e. has a high 1RM), but performs poorly during speed tests (e.g. 20m sprint test), then spending time at the maximal velocity and speed-strength zones may be of great benefit for the athlete.