VELOCITY BASED TRAINING BASICS
VELOCITY BASED TRAINING (VBT) is a modern approach to Strength Training which utilises objective metrics such as Bar Speed and sometimes Power as a means to motivate, prescribe and support real-time adjustments in an athlete's training plan. Typical decisions in strength and power programming and periodisation plans are such as the choice of exercises or the manipulation of reps, sets, loads and rest time as a means to calibrate training stimulus in the pursuit of specific adaptations.
Most commonly, Velocity Based Training is used on main strength and power movements such as squats, deadlifts, bench press and the olympic lifting variations. Values such as mean velocity, mean propulsive velocity and peak velocity are logged in real time to motivate, monitor performance and compare it with the prescribed training session, control and optimise fatigue levels in individual athletes or across teams or groups.
Velocity based training has an incredibly wide range of use cases and applications in strength and conditioning but first, let's see the principles supporting it.
When training for strength and power, athlete should aim to apply as much intent as possible to their movements. In strength training, Intent is Acceleration. This is not an opinion but a consequence of NEWTON'S 2ND LAW OF MOTION , relating Force to Mass AND Acceleration. Strength production with a certain weight can only be maxed with acceleration. Speed will come as a resulting combination of acceleration, range of motion and resistance relative to one's capabilities.
Also, there is a physiological factor to promote Maximum Intent when lifting: an athlete will accelerate and increase the recruitment of their largest, strongest and more powerful type II motor units through the Henneman Size Principle.
If maximum intent is applied, the heavier the relative load, the slowest the resulting speed of motion in the concentric phase. So the main idea behind Velocity Based Training is we can manipulate different loads to generate different Speed, therefore targeting different Strength Traits. STRENGTH IS DEFINED BY SPEED
THE STRENGTH CONTINUUM
We already met the SAID Principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demand) and if you are here you probably read about the Principle of Dynamic Correspondence by Yuri Verkhoshansky so it is easy to derive there are different kind of strengths. As previous researchers like Hill and Bosco pointed out, Velocity is the defining trait for each one of them.
|ISOMETRIC STRENGTH||v > 0 m/s|
|CONCENTRIC STRENGTH||v = 0 m/s|
|ECCENTRIC STRENGTH||v < 0 m/s|
Next, another chart displaying the relationship between Concentric Force and Velocity, highlighting different Concentric Strength Traits.
While more on the Force Velocity Relationship and Strength profiling can be found here, we would like to focus here on the most practical and immediate applications of these concepts and how to effectively use Speed to target Strength.
- Using the Load Velocity Relationship fro 1RM Prediction, B. Jidovsteff
- Movement Velocity as a measure of Loading Intensity during Resistance Training, Gonzalez Badillo and Sanchez Medina
- Developing Explosive Athletes: use of Velocity Based Training in Training Athletes, Bryan Mann
|STRENGTH TRAIT||MEAN VELOCITY||DESCRIPTION|
|ABSOLUTE STRENGTH||< 0,5 m/s||
express the highest amount of force possible
|ACCELERATIVE STRENGTH||0,5 - 0,75 m/s||
pushing against a heavy load as fast as possible
|STRENGTH-SPEED||0,75 - 1,0 m/s||
high power output constrained by moving heavy weight
|SPEED-STRENGTH||1,0 - 1,3 m/s||
high power output constrained by moving very fast
|STARTING STRENGTH||> 1,3 m/s||
explosive strength at high speed of motion
VELOCITY BASED TRAINING VS PERCENTAGE BASED TRAINING
Strength Training was conventionally prescribed by %1RM. One great example is the Prilepin Table: this chart may still be unknown to most yet is the best reference to prescribe loads, optimal sets and reps once the %1RM has been set. Few knows back in the old Russian Days the table itself was designed by Prilepin itself by measuring Speed of repetitions in conditions of optimal training on a large group of Soviet Athletes with the help of Velocity based Training Devices.
Also don't forget INTENTIONS MUST ALWAYS RULE THE TRAINING PRESCRIPTION. The priority is to target the Strength Trait to develop: from there Coaches had to go through a specific %1RM to prescribe the training conditions. One of the most common coaching mistakes is a misalignment between the prescription with the execution: in the simplest terms athletes are not doing what they or their coach think they should be doing: Theory and Practice do not correspond.
Now we know, Bar Speed is the solution and Coaches and Athletes owning a Velocity Based Training device can now just skip a step going from Intentions to Prescription via Bar Speed. Why? Strength Traits are defined by Bar Speed, not by %1RM.
When comparing these two approaches there are other important factors: Fatigue Management and Optimisation. Research has shown what everybody experienced after a decent amount of regular training: our performance capability floats depending on different life factors like sleep, nutrition, food, social life. We're not always ready to perform our average level, sometimes we're really good, sometimes we're bad. 1RM or Maximal Strength Levels, just like many other abilities of ours, floats and by prescribing training based on our latest 1RM test we might just get it wrong.
The information Coaches and Athletes consider here is that Maximum Strength levels floats to almost a fifth of one's capability. So think about this: training prescription based on %1RM suffers from almost 20% variability and an average 65% 1RM might become 50% 1RM making the workout too light or might as well become 80%1RM when the Athlete is tired, accumulating fatigue in an already critical situation.
Spanish Researchers Gonzalez Badillo and Sanchez Medina has shown in a paper named "Movement Velocity as a measure of Loading Intensity during Resistance Training" that 1RM Speed is basically constant with an exercise just like the relationship linking the entire %1RM to velocity.
- Direct 1RM is not essential anymore for training programs prescription
- Ignoring the absolute value of 1RM Coaches can prescribe a specific training session by a target speed (example 0.5 m/s)
- we're guaranteed that the Training Intensity required with Bar Speed is constant and has no floating
- VBT automatically respects Training Intentions, since is Speed dictates Strength - just choose Speed for the correct Strength Trait you want to develop.
- VBT help in Fatigue Management since it promotes AUTOREGULATION
- Speed can be used to check the desired %1RM is applied
By applying Velocity Based Training devices Coaches and Athletes can retrieve main feedbacks. Bar Speed is the main metric to reference when going from Training Intentions to goal to proof that plan is really well executed in the lifting room.
If you're interested in VBT techniques, more about how Velocity Based Training helps with Fatigue Management and Optimisation can be read here.