Rate of Force Development

I wrote an article on my blog about Rate of Force Development (ROFD) training and how it can be useful for baseball athletes.

It’s important that baseball athletes don’t just get on a basic strength or bodybuilder routine that you find on the Internet or in a book - while I’m a big proponent of Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program and book, it should only serve as a backbone for baseball players. The program was designed for novices who want to start strength training, and while it is highly applicable to baseball athletes of all ages and skill levels, a few modifications and additions are necessary.

It is currently in vogue to do medicine ball slams, rotations, and box jumps (think of Ron Wolforth’s Athletic Pitcher stuff or Dick Mills “explosive” program). “Core Training” is also a big keyword that personal trainers love to talk about. The truth is that both of these “new” findings have been around forever and have been used by successful Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters alike - it’s Rate of Force Development, or also known as speed-strength or power development.

For a supreme example of ROFD training and what it leads to, here’s Pyrros Dimas at the 1996 Olympics putting everyone to shame with his beastly 213.0 kg (469.6 pounds!) Clean and Jerk:

Good article. Enjoyed it.

That guy is strong…

Not just strong, but powerful. He can move a lot of weight very quickly.

And he isn’t really huge like body builders. So I guess you don’t have to be big to be strong?

So basically lower weight higher/faster reps? I like jump squats mahself


Max effort work, low reps with extremely high weight.

So just extra sets? High Sets Low Reps. Isnt this hypertrophy work?

no, hypertrophy work would be low sets with reps in the 8-12 range.

You will gain muscle mass doing 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps each, but it will not be as much as you will gain doing 3 sets with 10 reps each.


Max effort work, low reps with extremely high weight.[/quote]

The correct answer is…BOTH.

power=force x velocity

force = high weight low reps
velocity = lower weight/ faster reps

this is oversimplified, of course.

[quote=“wwRHP”]no, hypertrophy work would be low sets with reps in the 8-12 range.

You will gain muscle mass doing 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps each, but it will not be as much as you will gain doing 3 sets with 10 reps each.[/quote]

Essentially yes. That being said, we’re talking about two different things here. The traditional “powerlifts” such as the squat, bench press, standing press, and deadlift are done slowly not because we intend to do them slowly but because the weight is pretty damn heavy if you are training properly! The mind is always thinking “lift this as quickly as possible” when giving maximum effort to move a heavy load.

However the video above is an example of a “quick lift” or an “Olympic lift” - the Clean and Jerk. These movements - by definition - cannot be done slowly, as it is simply impossible to move near maximal-weights in a slow manner properly in both the C&J and the Snatch. Here is Dimas in the Snatch:

Also extremely impressive, don’t you think?

Rate of Force Development (ROFD) can be trained in the quick lifts as well as the traditional powerlifts. By using 50-60% of your 1RM and using supporting materials like a box that is placed below parallel (top of thigh, not the bottom!), you can do quick box squats where you lower the weight under control and explode off the box quickly. Think about standing up very fast. This can be done with a traditional back/free squat or a front squat (or a Zurcher or anything else crazy).

The bench press can be loaded this way by using bands in a creative manner, the deadlift can have a reverse band setup that pulls the bands up from the top of a power rack, etc…

Would chains be a good idea for this type of exercise? especially the box squats. I always thought of them as being really helpful with the core movements I want to buy soem but I dont know where to look.

Chains do work well - I use them myself, actually. I typically use chains for my dynamic effort (DE) training days for the squat and use bands for my DE bench press / deadlift workouts.

You can try expensive places like EliteFTS where the quality is unmatched, or you can Google around and see if you can find plans to build your own chains from material at The Home Depot or Lowe’s for a little less. I’m always a fan of DIY materials - I love building stuff myself to save money and learn more about equipment. This way, you can control the weights and looks of the products!

Okay so give me some more example rofd exercises? This is intriguing and I am getting tired of doing same old same old for the past 3 months. Also, maybe some critiques of my current split.

Day 1 Back/Tri 4 sets 10/8/6/4
Bent over row
Pulldowns (I use chin and pull grip is this bad?)
Tricep Pressdowns and Kickbacks
One arm DB row if im not dead yet

2 Chest/Bi 4 sets 10/8/6/4
Yoga Pushups to warm up
DB Bench
Pec Flys
BB Curl
DB Curl (hammer, concentration)

3 Legs/Shoulder/Forearms 4 10/8/6/4
Lunges to warm up
Ham Curl/Leg Extension supersets
Delt raises
Various Wrist rolls/curls

Abs/sometimes cardio on days off not lately though havent thrown since october

That’s not a terrible workout - it has a lot of the core lifts that I like. That said, there are a few exercises you should consider omitting entirely:

-Leg extensions / curls
-Bicep curls
-Pec flys

You should also consider squatting more frequently, as it is simply the best overall lift you can do to build core and leg strength - two of the most important muscle groups for baseball athletes.

Additionally, the 10/8/6/4 pyramid scheme is pretty poor programming. You should do sets across of 4-6 reps for strength training, 10-12 reps for hypertrophy, and around 8 reps for power.

A program that looks like this might work very well for you:

(Notation is SETS x REPS, so 3x5 is 3 sets of 5 reps

-Front squat 3x5
-DB Bench Press 3x5
-Power Clean 5x3
-Standing Pallof Press 2x10 (10 reps each side)

-Back Squat to Below-Parallel Box with 50% of 1RM - 10 sets of 3 reps done with 30 seconds of rest between each set (ROFD training)
-Power Snatch 5x3 (ROFD)
-Cable backhand pulls (pull cable across your body from a low position to high using a backhand stroke) 2x10 (10 reps each side)
-Reverse crunches using a swiss ball 2x15

-Front squat 3x5
-DB Bench Press 3x5
-Deadlift 1x5
-Medball work:
–Running crow-hop step overhead slam, 8 reps
–Lunge with a medball twist, 5 reps per leg
–Coiled shotput medball throw, 8 reps
–Medball rotational throw, 5 reps per side

That program is similar to what I have a few athletes on.

KYLE CMON MAN. What I am doing now is a hypertrophy phase which I started a couple months ago. I was unaware my pyramid scheme isnt good. But as far as adding mass before I start mixing it up for my throwing program. What do you think? Just lift hard and a lot till january then add functionality?

I can’t help you with bodybuilder-type routines. I don’t endorse them.

I’ve never heard of doing a lift in 10 sets of 3 reps but I kind of like the idea for strength training I may start doing that on some lifts

Im confused as to what separates a strength program from a bodybuilding program.

I view a strength program as compounds lifts, with low reps and high weight. This builds strength used in explosive movements in sports such as baseball, football, or some movements in basketball.

A bodybuilding program would be many more isolation lifts, done with higher reps and lower weight in each set. This will cause much more hypertrophy than a strength program, but you will not be building much functional strength for sports such as baseball or any of the others i listed in the previous paragraph.