Schaefer’s Law – Rate of Force Development Training

Updated: December 1, 2014
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Schaefer’s Law

What you need to know:

- Nothing is more important than developing a solid core competency of bilateral strength and power before progressing to sport specific training with an athlete

- Magic things happen at double bodyweight back squat

- Once you can achieve a 1 Meter per second on a back squat with your bodyweight on the bar, your focus should shift to rate of force development training

- Once completed an athlete’s body is primed for sport specific stimulus and your rate of improvement will be greatly enhanced

Back Story

We at Athletic Standard are fortunate enough to work with some of the top professionals in sports performance. We work with some of the leading universities and some off the top commercial training facilities around the globe.  We are constantly able to speak with individuals whose sole job is to push the limit of human performance. One school in particular that continually raises the bar is Florida State University. The FSU model is what every competitive institution should strive to be like. From the top down they are a united intuition, where every staff member is committed to making every athlete the best they can be. While limited interdepartmental communication can be an Achilles heel, Florida State is united as one.

This didn’t occur by accident, in fact it was a deliberate day-to-day effort of previous director Jon Jost and current director Dan Schaefer. The directive from the top has been clear for decades, we are all on the same team and if you are a member of this staff, your opinion matters.  This type of attitude is why across the board the FSU strength staff continually produces some of the most successful programs in the country.

Pushing the Envelope

While visiting FSU this past spring I was amazed at one consistent feature, everyone was happy. Whether it was the graduate assistant or the gold medalist long jumper returning to their alma mater, everyone was warm and welcoming. This type of atmosphere is a breading ground for innovation, discovery and success.  When talking to coaches it is clear that there is a strong bond of trust between the sport coaches and the intentions of the strength and conditioning staff. All of this is in large part to the data driven atmosphere spearheaded by the Director of Strength and Conditioning Dan Schaefer. His accomplishments speak for themself and what he has accomplished in the last three years is what most people struggle to complete in a lifetime.

His way with words is only matched by his way with using data. He uses powerful figures to roadmap the long-term development of some of our nation’s top athletes.  He is led by his insights in performance data… not his ego.

A Significant Breakthrough in Sports Performance

Notice how the athlete is already STRONG

Notice how the athlete is already STRONG

While working with an athlete Dan noticed a drastic increase in performance at the end of a max strength phase. What he discovered through subsequent data analysis would go on to transform the way he approached training. He found that as the athlete approached a double body weight back squat, magical things began to happen. All submaximal attempts, as measured by bar velocity, began to move significantly faster compared to the beginning of the training cycle. Most notably at body weight on the bar. Why is this important? Because it is relevant to the athlete. In all sports, an athlete most constantly overcome the resistive force of their own body. By increasing the speed at which they can move the same weight, you have designed a more powerful athlete.

Additionally, he found that a sport specific style of training was inappropriate until perquisites could be met. This is not to say other training modalities where thrown by the side of the road, there emphasis were simply put on the back burner until the foundation was set.  “Just as how one does not take calculus before algebra, one does not get sport specific before hoisting thou’s body weight on the bar in a back squat at one meter per second.”  Scientifically, this is second only to the law of gravity and serves as a major corner stone for the future for the industry.

*Notice how Thibaudeau says “between 40-50% of your maximum”. Everything you do is a % of your max, so the stronger you are the more explosive you can become.

If you were to dig deeper into this insight you would find that neurologically around double body weight (at any speed) the emphasis of training should shift focus to rate of force development (fast moving actions with light to moderate weight). The significance of this discovery cannot be overstated. Flashy programs with all the bells and whistles seem to get the most attention, however, we have clarity that those training modalities don’t really doesn’t matter if your body is not primed to handle them. Too often people confuse training modalities, with training goals and subsequently athletic potential will forever remain untapped.

Recommended Technologies 

In no particular order:

1. Gym Aware –

2. Tendo Units -

3. Barsense (It’s a Free APP) -


If you are an athlete or a sport coach reading this you need to pay attention. This concept of training for double weight back squat, then 1 meter per second body weight back squat (Aka: Schaefer’s Law) emphasizes the importance of properly designed resistance programs.  Simply put, this puts you on fastest path to increased sport performance.

Website Credits

1. TNation -

2.   Kendrick Ferris “Bless the Gym Tour”  -

3. Zatsiorsky, V. M., & Kraemer, W. J. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training. (Second Edition). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

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