Bar Speed- Chronic Adaptations?


Some interesting studies on fiber changes makes me wonder what are the best ways to develop an athlete over years? Charlie was convinced that weights were less important twenty years after Seoul, and much of the talk in blogs is about what is happening with monitoring bar speeds with Gymaware. For example, the biochemical and histological changes of training are just as important as the biomechanical aspects of training. Sure we all play on one leg, but should we snatch on one leg because it’s more specific. I see a lot of the Bosch stuff and I am suspicious. When we see people running up the stairs or water jug dancing on boxes create freaks I will drink the Bosch Berry Juice. It’s easy to fall into the Wheaties trap and assume because an elite athlete is doing X we all will be as good as that athlete if we all follow his or her lead.

After reading the power versus strength study, it seems that Type IIX is improved specifically and Type I is left alone. What was interesting is the jumping performance improved on the power group but not the strength training group. Does that mean we should never squat? No, but it should bring up the discussion of what distribution and progression of speed, power, and strength exercises should be used. One example is single leg exercises versus double leg exercises. With the 1996 study from Bartonietz on the snatch, we know the bar speed is slower while the output looks to be exploiting the bilateral deficit. Interesting to note that another research group in Cologne tested with EMG and Tensiomyography in 2010 and found that the errectors were recruited far more with the single leg option. Six years later after Frans presentation, we are not seeing records being broken in combine performances because of single leg hang snatch step up phases in Alabama. The monster maker himself isn’t going to do so because the reality is the bilateral deficit is a neurological and anatomical factor, and we need to look at training to see what we can change more. Wattage per leg is not enough to dictate that it’s the best option, as many single leg options are not good for specific transfer.

I would love to see the histochemistry of single leg strength training and double leg combined options (speed, strength, power, single and double legs use). I would like to see the performances in speed and power with sprint and jump tests, and look at injury patterns. Many specific adaptations to the nervous system and muscle fiber can be achieved with general exercises, so we can’t be on one side or the other. Double leg snatches are important to me because they are safe and specific enough to have a positive effect on global development. Single leg work may use loads greater than 50% (or 75%) but they are not true single leg activities because EMG and kinematic data shows lumbar muscles and hip chains are engaged on both sides. I also think that eccentric preloading is important, and find double leg hurdle jumps to be valuable.For example I like to include testing of rebound options in jump tests because I agree with Henk that that will show up later in the top speed part of the races. Single hops and Jumps with two legs should cover the bases but I don’t have testing info to confirm that belief.

So is bar speed the only factor? Of course not. I am a believer that bar speed is a sign of contractile changes both neurologically and histochemically. I think the studies in Mladen’s Blog do direct us to more precision on loading, and perhaps defends the idea that conventional slower lifts have a supporting role in programs but a primary role with advanced athletes may be questioned, especially if one can’t handle massive volumes of sprinting (60k meters in 1987). It’s early to know what is going on right now but I like how were are getting more answers.

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

Latest posts by Carl Valle (see all)