Faster Strength Gains With Intended Maximal Concentric Acceleration

For an athlete with a short off-season, rapid performance improvements become a priority. One of the most underused techniques to reach higher strength levels is the implementation of Intended Maximal Concentric Acceleration (IMCA) to the training program. 

It is a widely recognized training principle that there is an inverse relationship between force and velocity; the higher the load, the slower the speed and the lighter the load, the faster the speed of contraction. 

Both maximal effort at higher loads (80-100% of 1RM) and dynamic efforts at lighter loads (40-60% of 1RM) can lead to maximal muscular tension which is the basis for strength development. The forgotten factor is that purposely attempting to accelerate the concentric of every repetition of a heavy set will improve force output through increased firing rate of motor units. 

The intent to accelerate the load concentrically, irrespective of the actual velocity of contraction, will directly enhance the recruitment of higher threshold motor units responsible for greater strength development. 

IMCA is especially beneficial on exercises with an ascending strength curve (Bench Press, Squat, etc.) when the concentric feels easier as you near full extension and the muscle tension required decreases throughout the range of motion. As the tension decreases and you progress through the concentric contraction, the lifter can counter the diminished need for tension using IMCA to increase force output via compensatory acceleration. This increase rate of force development will result in higher total muscular tension. 

Here is an example of an Upper Body session using IMCA on the Bench Press:

A1 Bench Press 7,7,5,5,3,3 40X0 120

A2 Medium Neutral Grip Chin-Up 6 x 3-5 3010 120

B1 Seated DB Press 3 x 6-8 3010 90

B2 Wide Pronated Grip Seated Row 3 x 6-8 3011 90

C1 Arm Abducted to Side Seated DB External Rotation 3 x 8-10 3010 30

C2 Bent-Over Trap-3 Raise 3 x 8-10 3010 30

When writing the training program, simply use a “X” to denote the speed of the concentric repetition. For example, a 40X0 tempo means that after lowering the weight eccentrically on a 4-second count, you intently try to accelerate the barbell as fast as possible. Seeing the “X” on the training program reinforces the actions of intent for speed.

For improved results when using IMCA, it is recommended that the athlete receives verbal instructions to move the weight quickly as the exercise is performed. Coaching cues will insure the quality of each repetition for every set.

For the strength athlete, there is a marked advantage to using compensatory acceleration for strength improvements compared to simply using a controlled and constant concentric speed over the course of a set. By favoring IMCA throughout your strength training cycle, your predicted 1RM value will present a significantly better outcome than simply going through the motion with your training.

12-Week Strength Bundle 1
150.00 200.00

This 12-Week Strength Program consists of the 4 individual 3-week Strength training programs bundled together so you save the price of one phase!

  • #1 - 5 x 5-7
  • #2 - 6,6,4,4,2,2
  • #3 - 5 3/1/1/1
  • #4 - 3,2,1,3,2,1

Listen to the video below for a quick summary of the bundle

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12-Week Strength Bundle 2
150.00 200.00

This 12-Week Strength Program consists of 4 individual 3-week Strength training programs (5,6,7,8) bundled together so you save the price of one phase!

  • #5 - 8,7,6,5,4
  • #6 - 7 x 2-3
  • #7 - 3,3,5,5,7,7
  • #8 - 3,3,2,2,1,1
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Stephane CazeaultComment