The Importance of Triphasic Training, Part 1: Introduction | STACK Coaches and Trainers
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

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...
Must See
Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 2,276,651
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 18,595,916
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 542,897

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: Duke University Views: 217,694
Eastbay: It Begins Now Views: 70,986
Path to the Pros 2015: Training Days Views: 118,412
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

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

7-Exercise Core-Blasting Workout

How Functional Training Has Overly Complicated Strength Training

3 Post-Activation Potentiation Combos for Explosive Strength

7 Ways to Work Out Competitively Without CrossFit

Develop Core Strength for Throwing

Never Bench Press With Your Feet in This Position

10 Ways to Get Stronger With a Sandbag

How NOT to Perform a Pull-Up (With Fixes)

The Science of Building Muscle: 2 Ways to Maximize Hypertrophy

3 Nordic Hamstring Curl Exercises to Boost Your Performance

A Better Way to Train Your Core

Reach New Training Heights With Resistance Band Exercises

5 Exercises to Develop Soccer Power

Mike Boyle's 5 Tips for More Effective Workouts

Putting Together an Off-Season Workout for Point Guards

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Exercise

7 Best Lower-Body Strengthening Exercises

4 Weaknesses That Can Ruin Your Exercise Technique (With Fixes)

Increase Your Explosiveness with the Power Curl

Improve Your Squat Depth With 5 Easy Warm-Up Exercises

3 Tricks for a Stronger Front Squat

5 Ways to Get a Higher Vertical Jump

12 Strength Moves from NFL WR Harry Douglas's Full-Body Workout

The Best Single-Leg Exercises for Youth Athletes

Build Max Power With These Pulling Exercises

4 Simple Golf Core Exercises to Increase Your Driving Distance

How Often Should You Vary Your Exercise?

7 Strategies for Faster Workout Recovery

How to Design a Greco-Roman Wrestling Training Program

3 Simple Strategies for a Better Workout

How to Improve Shoulder Strength and Flexibility

12-Week Resistance Band and Chain Workout

Improve Soccer Agility with Lateral Strength Exercises

Master the Lateral Lunge to Improve Your Hockey Stride

Use Eccentric Lifts to Increase Size and Strength

Posterior Chain Fixes to Improve Your Game

7 Farmer's Walk Variations for Improved Core Strength

Bench Press Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

How Strength Training Changed Rory McIlroy's Game

Mike Boyle: 4 Small Muscles That Can Lead to Big Gains

6 Gym Machines That Are Actually Worth Your Time

Dominate Your Bench Test With This Strategy

These 3 Single-Leg Movements Will Improve Your Squat Technique

4 Deadlift Variations to Increase Your Pull

Perfect Your Squat Technique With the Unloaded Squat