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Optimal Force–Velocity Profile in Ballistic Movements—Altius


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2012 - Volume 44 - Issue 2 - p 313–322
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31822d757a
Applied Sciences

Purpose: The study’s purpose was to determine the respective influences of the maximal power (

) and the force–velocity (Fv) mechanical profile of the lower limb neuromuscular system on performance in ballistic movements.

Methods: A theoretical integrative approach was proposed to express ballistic performance as a mathematical function of

and Fv profile. This equation was (i) validated from experimental data obtained on 14 subjects during lower limb ballistic inclined push-offs and (ii) simulated to quantify the respective influence of

and Fv profile on performance.

Results: The bias between performances predicted and obtained from experimental measurements was 4%–7%, confirming the validity of the proposed theoretical approach. Simulations showed that ballistic performance was mostly influenced not only by

but also by the balance between force and velocity capabilities as described by the Fv profile. For each individual, there is an optimal Fv profile that maximizes performance, whereas unfavorable Fv balances lead to differences in performance up to 30% for a given

. This optimal Fv profile, which can be accurately determined, depends on some individual characteristics (limb extension range,

) and on the afterload involved in the movement (inertia, inclination). The lower the afterload, the more the optimal Fv profile is oriented toward velocity capabilities and the greater the limitation of performance imposed by the maximal velocity of lower limb extension.

Conclusions: High ballistic performances are determined by both maximization of the power output capabilities and optimization of the Fv mechanical profile of the lower limb neuromuscular system.

1Laboratory of Exercise Physiology (EA4338), University of Savoy, Le Bourget du Lac, FRANCE; 2Department of Biomedical Sciences and Technologies, University of Udine, Udine, ITALY; and 3Laboratory of Exercise Physiology (EA4338), University of Lyon, Saint Etienne, FRANCE

Address for correspondence: Pierre Samozino, Ph.D., Laboratoire de Physiologie de l’Exercice, Université de Saint-Étienne, Médecine du sport et Myologie - Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Bellevue, 42055 Saint-Étienne Cedex 02, France; E-mail:

Submitted for publication November 2010.

Accepted for publication July 2011.

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©2012The American College of Sports Medicine