Progression Models in Resistance Training for Healthy Adults

Nicholas A. Ratamess, Ph.D.; Brent A. Alvar, Ph.D.; Tammy K. Evetoch, Ph.D., FACSM; Terry J. Housh, Ph.D., FACSM (Chair); W. Ben Kibler, M.D., FACSM; William J. Kraemer, Ph.D., FACSM; N. Travis Triplett, Ph.D.


March 01, 2010

In This Article

Relevance to Sports Applications

Motor Performance

Improved motor performance results from RT. The principle of "specificity" is important for improving motor performance as the greatest improvements are observed when RT programs are prescribed that are specific to the task or the activity. The recommendations for improving motor performance are similar to that of strength and power training.

Vertical Jump

Force production during isokinetic and dynamic resistance exercise measures correlates to vertical jump height,[28,208,216] and RT may improve vertical jump.[1,252] High correlations between closed-chain exercises (exercises where the distal segments are fixed, i.e., squat) and vertical (r = 0.72) and standing long jump (r = 0.65) performance have been reported,[24] and training with closed-chain exercises is more effective for improving vertical jump than open-chain exercises.[12] Total-body multiple-joint exercises such as the Olympic lifts (snatch, clean and jerk, and variations) have been shown to improve jumping ability[82,120,263] to a greater extent than strength training.[120] The high velocity and joint involvement of these exercises and their ability to integrate strength, power, and neuromuscular coordination demonstrates a direct carryover to improving jump performance. The effect of intensity on vertical jump improvements appears related to contraction velocity. Several studies[98,99,276] have shown improvements in jump height using light loads (< 60% of 1 RM). Other reports show vertical jump enhancement can be achieved while using higher intensities (>80% of 1 RM).[1] Multiple-set RT has been shown to be superior for improving vertical jump performance in comparison to single-set RT programs,[149] and 5-6 d·wk−1 of training elicited greater vertical jump improvements than 3-4 d·wk−1 in football players.[118]

Evidence Statement and Recommendation.Evidence Category B. It is recommended that multiple-joint exercises be performed using a combination of heavy and light to moderate loading (using fast repetition velocity), with moderate to high volume in periodized fashion 4-6 d·wk−1 for maximal progression in vertical jumping ability.[1,82,98,99,120,149,263] The inclusion of plyometric training (explosive form of exercise involving various jumps) in combination with RT is recommended.

Sprint Speed

Force production is related to sprint performance[4,11] and is a good indicator of speed when testing is performed at isokinetic velocities greater than 180°·s−1.[205] Relative (to body mass) strength correlates highly with sprint velocity and acceleration (r = 0.88)[208] as well as jump squat height and power.[46] However, increasing maximal strength does not appear to be highly related to reducing sprint time.[15] Traditional strength and ballistic training has only produced small reductions in sprint times.[118,120,174] However, specific hip flexor strength training was shown to reduce sprint time.[50] The combination of strength and sprint training results in the greatest improvements in sprinting speed.[52]

Evidence Statement and Recommendation.Evidence Category B. It is recommended that the combination of resistance and ballistic resistance exercise (along with sprint and plyometric training) be included for progression in sprinting ability.[51,118,120,174]


Muscular strength is an important factor in an individual's ability to stop and change direction rapidly.[11,119,208] Lower-body multiple-joint exercise strength and power have been shown to correlate to various agility tests.[168] A significant relationship has been reported between peak ECC hamstring force at 90°·s−1 and agility run time and may be an important indicator of success.[11] No change,[48,119,120] a reduction,[45] or an increase in time[78] in agility (t-test) has been observed following RT. It appears that agility-specific training is most beneficial for enhancing agility performance.

Sport-specific Activities

The importance of RT for other sport-specific activities has been shown. Strength in the kicking limb for soccer players highly correlates to ball velocity.[218] Significant correlations have been shown between wrist and elbow extensor and flexors, shoulder abduction/adduction, and shoulder internal rotation strength and throwing speed.[73,204] Several studies have shown increases (2.0-4.1%) in throwing velocities in both baseball[162,180,196] and European handball[117] players following traditional[162,196] and ballistic[180] RT. Improvements in shot put performance,[38] golf,[261] distance running,[134] swimming performance,[86] and tennis service velocity[155] have been reported following RT.