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Unlock Performance Gains With Triphasic Training

June 16, 2013 | Chris Costa

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Are you having trouble taking your athletes to the next level? Are their training gains not translating to on-field performance improvements? If so, I recommend reading Triphasic Training: A systematic approach to elite speed and explosive strength development, by Cal Dietz and Ben Peterson of the University of Minnesota.

Dietz and Peterson are extremely smart guys, but they ran into a problem when training two athletes. One was a world-class shot putter who could throw 65 feet. The other was an NCAA thrower who struggled to reach 55 feet. Yet they both lifted the same amount of weight in the gym. Puzzling, right? (Discover the research behind the Triphasic method.)

Dietz and Peterson realized that there had to be a limiting factor causing the difference. After extensive research, they discovered it was the rate of force development (RFD). The elite shot putter could lift the same weight but at a faster rate.

So the researchers had to come up with a system that would improve the NCAA athlete's ability to generate force rapidly, while also continuing to challenge and develop the elite shot putter.

Their solution, which they called triphasic training, was ingenious. They created a blueprint to develop the three phases of a muscle contraction:

  • Concentric - contracting the muscle (e.g., by pressing the bar up during the Bench Press)
  • Isometric - the transition or stop in the middle of a repetition (i.e., the brief transition between the raising and lowering phases of the Bench Press)
  • Eccentric - lengthening under tension (e.g., the lowering phase of the Bench Press)

Looking at the three phases, there's a good chance you've had your athletes focus only on the concentric phase. The coaching community seems to place more emphasis on weight lifted over weight held or weight lowered.

By training each phase of the muscle at work, you improve your athletes' ability to decelerate the weight, store energy and rapidly produce explosive strength. This is the fundamental physical trait needed to be successful in virtually every sport. It's not always about how strong an athlete is; it's all about RFD.

Unlike most other training programs, triphasic training hones in on how a repetition is performed. Timing of the rep is the focus, rather than lifting a maximum amount of weight. For example, an exercise may call for a 1-3-1 rep scheme, or even a five second hold mid-repetition, with assistance during the concentric phase. It may seem like a departure from your traditional training methods, but the research Dietz and Peterson conducted backs up their methodology.

Triphasic training is not for the faint of heart. Your athletes should have a sufficient base of strength and training experience before progressing to this extremely challenging type of training. Take the time to thoroughly familiarize yourself with how to train each phase, and start taking your athletes' performance to the next level.

You can purchase Triphasic Training: A systematic approach to elite speed and explosive strength development at XLAthlete.com.

Topics: WORKOUT PLAN
Chris Costa
- Chris Costa has participated in athletics as a coach, player and official for 22 years. He specializes in hockey training, both on and off the...
Chris Costa
- Chris Costa has participated in athletics as a coach, player and official for 22 years. He specializes in hockey training, both on and off the...
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