Force-vector training takes into account each exercise’s direction of resistance. It allows an athlete to focus on strengthening the muscle groups crucial to movements within a sport. By doing this, each training session can be more targeted toward enhancing movement qualities that are specific to your success.
Don’t be intimiated by the term force-vector. It’s simply a physics term for the direction of a force. For example, most exercises such as the Squat place a vertical force on the body, whereas something like a Hip Thrust places a horiztonal force on the body.
A study was done investigating the effects of vertical/horizontal plyometrics on sprint performance in U-20 soccer players. It revealed that jumps in both directions had positive impacts on sprint performance, but their transference to sprint distances varied.
Horizontal jumps had a larger positive transfer to short-distance sprints (10 m), whereas vertical jumps had a larger transfer to relatively longer sprint distance (20 m). Horizontal jumps also improved horizontal jump distance, and vertical jumps improved vertical jump height, which would be expected.
The message that can be applied when designing your training program is that the force-vector training impacts performance in that vector. In this case for improving shorter distance bursts around 10 meters, horizontal vector training is necessary. And for longer distances of 20 meters, the vertical vector should be trained.
When we think in terms of positions specific to sports where short-distance bursts might be beneficial, this could apply directly to positions like offensive/defensive lineman in football or infielders in baseball. Longer-distance speed is something that wide receivers and outfielders might want to focus more on.
Of course in most team sports, athletes of all positions will likely benefit from being faster and more explosive across both distances. You can use this to your advantage by focusing on implementing these exercises in your program to address both force vectors (vertical & horizontal) to improve short & long distance sprinting.
Horizontal Force-Vector Exercises
- Barbell Hip Thrusts
- Bodyweight Single-Leg Glute Bridge
- Nordic Ham Curl
- Broad Jump
Vertical Force-Vector Exercises
- Front Squat
- Reverse Lunges
- Squat Jump
One strategy for force vector training is to mix up strength/power force vector exercises with hypertrophy-focused force vector exercises in the opposite direction. For example:
Horizontal Power Day
- Barbell Hip Thrust – 3 x 5
- Broad Jump – 5 x 1
- Step Ups – 3 x 12
- Reverse Lunges – 3 x 12
Vertical Power Day
- Front Squat – 3 x 5
- Squat Jump – 5 x 1
- Nordic Ham Curl – 3 x 12
- Bodyweight Single-Leg Glute Bridge – 3 x 12