The Relationship Between Maximal Strength and Reactive Strength

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Maximum- and reactive-strength qualities both have important roles in athletic movements and sporting performance. Very little research has investigated the relationship between maximum strength and reactive strength. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between maximum-strength (isometric midthigh-pull peak force [IMTP PF]) and reactive-strength (drop-jump reactive-strength index [DJ-RSI]) variables at 0.3-m, 0.4-m, 0.5-m, and 0.6-m box heights. A secondary aim was to investigate the between- and within-group differences in reactive-strength characteristics between relatively stronger athletes (n = 11) and weaker athletes (n = 11). Forty-five college athletes across various sports were recruited to participate in the study (age, 23.7 ± 4.0 y; mass, 87.5 ± 16.1 kg; height, 1.80 ± 0.08 m). Pearson correlation results showed that there was a moderate association (r = .302–.431) between maximum-strength variables (absolute, relative, and allometric scaled PF) and RSI at 0.3, 0.4, 0.5 and 0.6 m (P ≤ .05). In addition, 2-tailed independent-samples t tests showed that the RSIs for relatively stronger athletes (49.59 ± 2.57 N/kg) were significantly larger than those of weaker athletes (33.06 ± 2.76 N/kg) at 0.4 m (Cohen d = 1.02), 0.5 m (d = 1.21), and 0.6 m (d = 1.39) (P ≤ .05). Weaker athletes also demonstrated significant decrements in RSI as eccentric stretch loads increased at 0.3-m through 0.6-m box heights, whereas stronger athletes were able to maintain their reactive-strength ability. This research highlights that in specific sporting scenarios, when there are high eccentric stretch loads and fast stretch-shortening-cycle demands, athletes’ reactive-strength ability may be dictated by their relative maximal strength, specifically eccentric strength.

The authors are with the Dept of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Limerick, Ireland.

Address correspondence to Kris Beattie at