The Importance of Triphasic Training, Part 1: Introduction

May 18, 2012

Must See Strength Training Videos

The triphasic training method was created out of a revelation I had in the fall of 2003. At the time, I had two track and field athletes—throwers—who had me perplexed. One of them (let's call him Ben) was a potential world-class thrower. He could throw the shot over 65 feet. The other, Tommy, was an average thrower who had trouble breaking 55 feet. Oddly enough, they were about equally strong in the weight room. Nothing explained why Ben was so good and Tommy struggled.

To find some answers, I decided to test their Bench Press using a force plate. The graph below (Figure 1) shows the results recorded by the force plate. The x-axis (horizontal axis) depicts time in hundredths of a second. The y-axis (vertical axis) represents power in watts. In essence, the graph is showing how much force each athlete absorbed and displaced in a given amount of time.

Ben's rep is shown by the dark blue line, Tommy's by the red line. The actual repetitions are taking place during the V-shaped segment of the lines in the middle of the graph. The descending line of the V is the eccentric (downward) phase of the Bench Press. The bottom point of the V is the isometric or static phase, and the line ascending from the bottom on up is the concentric (pressing) phase.

Bench Press Force

Figure 1: Ben vs. Tommy

As soon as I saw the graphical printout, I realized what separated Ben and Tommy. Although the two athletes could produce the same amount of maximal force in the Bench Press (each had a 415-pound 1RM), Ben could absorb more force eccentrically at a higher velocity. The graph (Figure 1) shows that Ben was able to load up his muscles with more energy to use concentrically, enabling him to accelerate the bar faster than Tommy and produce more power. In throwing, this means Ben could store more energy in his muscles during the stretch of his windup, thus applying more force to the shot before it left his hand than Tommy could. When Ben's shot left his hand, it was powered by a jet engine. When Tommy's shot left his hand, it was powered by a propeller.

You have just learned the key to improving sport performance in every athlete. It isn't about who is the strongest, although many athletes and coaches incorrectly believe this to be the case. The key to improved sport performance is producing more force in less time. This results when an athlete can absorb more force eccentrically, which allows him to apply higher levels of concentric force in less time. In other words, the athlete who has the narrowest "V" wins every time. It's all about the V, baby!

Bench Press Power

Figure 2

Triphasic Training

Many traditional training methods teach athletes how to expel energy; little time and effort are spent teaching them to absorb it. That is the entire point of the triphasic method—learning how to eccentrically and isometrically absorb energy before applying it in explosive dynamic movements. Athletes aren’t powerlifters. They must be strong, but only to the extent that it can benefit them in their sport. Every dynamic human movement has a limited amount of time in which the mover can produce as much force as possible. Ben was a world-class thrower because he could generate more explosive strength (defined as maximal force in minimal time) in the time it took to throw a shot.

Most training methods focus on the development of explosive strength by emphasizing the concentric phase of dynamic movement. My epiphany in 2003 was that we were approaching the development of force from the wrong angle. The key to improved force production, and thus sport performance, doesn't lie in the concentric phase. To develop explosive strength, you must train the eccentric and isometric phases of dynamic movements at a level equal to that of the concentric phase.

Look at the original printout again in Figure 1. Imagine the graph as depicting the same athlete at different times during his or her development. The lines are the same athlete, but one shows the results of an athlete developed using triphasic training and the other in the early stages of development. Your new goal as a strength and conditioning coach or athlete is to narrow that V as much as possible.

In future articles of this four-part series, I will expand upon triphasic training. For more great training tips, check out Triphasic Training: A systematic approach to elite speed and explosive strength performance.

Photo:  inklingsnews.com

Ben Peterson
- Ben Peterson, author of Triphasic Training, is currently pursuing his doctorate in kinesiology and exercise physiology at the University of Minnesota. A graduate of Northwestern...
Ben Peterson
- Ben Peterson, author of Triphasic Training, is currently pursuing his doctorate in kinesiology and exercise physiology at the University of Minnesota. A graduate of Northwestern...

Featured Videos

Path to the Pros 2015: Devin Smith Path to the Pros 2015: Devin Smith Views: 180,344
Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,271,129
Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Views: 80,757
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 896,781
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 12,195,981
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,292
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,437
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,920,995

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
5 Things to Remember When You Wing Your Workout

5 Things to Remember When You Wing Your Workout

Mix Up Your Workout With Unique Partner Exercises

Mix Up Your Workout With Unique Partner Exercises

Why You Should Add Depth Jumps to Your Workouts

Why You Should Add Depth Jumps to Your Workouts

Heavy Rope Workout for Big Gains

Heavy Rope Workout for Big Gains

9 Ways to Improve Your Squat Technique

9 Ways to Improve Your Squat Technique

Why Reverse Lunges Are Better Than Forward Lunges

Why Reverse Lunges Are Better Than Forward Lunges

2015 Summer Training Guide: Baseball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Baseball

Go Against Traditional Workout Order for Bigger Gains

Go Against Traditional Workout Order for Bigger Gains

Are You Using the Right Weight for Every Exercise?

Are You Using the Right Weight for Every Exercise?

2015 Summer Training Guide: Softball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Softball

Why Single-Arm and Single-Leg Training is Better for Athletes

Why Single-Arm and Single-Leg Training is Better for Athletes

Build Lower-Body Power with This Squat Workout

Build Lower-Body Power with This Squat Workout

Full-Body Training: 4 Dumbbell Ring Training Exercises

Full-Body Training: 4 Dumbbell Ring Training Exercises

Troubleshooting the Lunge: How to Fix Your Form

Troubleshooting the Lunge: How to Fix Your Form

2015 Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

A Modern Twist to the Original Burpee

A Modern Twist to the Original Burpee

There Might Be a Good Reason Tim Tebow Looks This Ridiculous

There Might Be a Good Reason Tim Tebow Looks This Ridiculous

Bulletproof Shoulders: A Shoulder Training Guide

Bulletproof Shoulders: A Shoulder Training Guide

2015 Summer Training Guide: Lacrosse

2015 Summer Training Guide: Lacrosse

The Squat Variation That Torches Your Core

The Squat Variation That Torches Your Core

2015 Summer Training Guide: Wrestling

2015 Summer Training Guide: Wrestling

2015 Summer Training Guide: Basketball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Basketball

Strength Isn’t Just How Much You Can Lift on a Barbell

Strength Isn't Just How Much You Can Lift on a Barbell

Build Powerful Muscles With Velocity-Based Training

Build Powerful Muscles With Velocity-Based Training

2015 Summer Training Guide: Football

2015 Summer Training Guide: Football

Building Brakes for More Speed

Building Brakes for More Speed

Build Elite Strength With This Training System

Build Elite Strength With This Training System

2015 Summer Training Guide: Soccer

2015 Summer Training Guide: Soccer

Fix 7 Common Problem Areas with Exercises From Todd Durkin

Fix 7 Common Problem Areas with Exercises From Todd Durkin

How to Build Strong Neck Muscles

How to Build Strong Neck Muscles

3 Simple Tips to Gain Muscle Mass

3 Simple Tips to Gain Muscle Mass

3 Bear Crawl Variations for Better Core Strength

3 Bear Crawl Variations for Better Core Strength

The 10-Minute Grip Strengthening Workout

The 10-Minute Grip Strengthening Workout

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up for Any Workout

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up for Any Workout

Marcus Mariota's Speed and Strength Workout

Marcus Mariota's Speed and Strength Workout

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Building Functional Balance for Figure Skaters

Building Functional Balance for Figure Skaters

2015 Summer Training Guide: Track

2015 Summer Training Guide: Track

Perfect Planks: How to Make this Classic Exercise More Effective

Perfect Planks: How to Make this Classic Exercise More Effective

What Sport Coaches Need to Know About Strength and Conditioning

What Sport Coaches Need to Know About Strength and Conditioning

Use Single-Leg Strength to Enhance Soccer Performance

Use Single-Leg Strength to Enhance Soccer Performance

YardBarker