Force Velocity Curve Velocity Targets Minimum Velocity Threshold/v1RM RPE Targets Speed Targets Neuromuscular Fatigue Passive VBT
Introduction To Velocity Based Training
Introduction To Velocity Based Training
If you’re like me, it’s difficult to know whether or not I’m improving each week, or how difficult a set really was. Having objective feedback can reduce the uncertainty when it comes to training, and this is where velocity based training (VBT) shines.
This velocity based training guide contains:
What Velocity Based Training is
Why would we use Velocity Based Training?
Implementation of Velocity Based Training
How to use the Repone Sensor
Alternatives to Velocity Based Training
Future of Velocity Based Training
What is VBT?
VBT involves the implementation of either an inertial measurement unit, cameras, or a linear position transducer to monitor the upward or concentric speed of a barbell movement or exercise.
Specifically, the Repone Sensor is a linear position transducer that is implemented for VBT to measure velocity (meters per second) of a lift to make more informed training decisions.
Why would we use VBT?
While tools such as ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) can be useful to gauge perceived effort and intensity during a set, there can be a degree of subjectivity which can create inaccuracy.
Often, it can be difficult to determine whether or not we are exerting too little effort or overreaching within a training session. This can lead to underreporting or overreporting RPE, which can lead to suboptimal training results.
The implementation of a Repone Sensor and VBT protocol can aid in precision within a training cycle, while alleviating the uncertainty of loading, frequency, volume, and rest parameters.
Furthermore, there are two primary motivations for the use of VBT:
- Inform decision making (collect and analyze)
- Real-time guidance
Velocity Based Training Uses
Informed Decision Making
Readiness to perform fluctuates throughout a training cycle, and a way to manage this is through the implementation of VBT. Mean velocity, velocity-loss, minimum velocity, maximum velocity, and peak velocity are just some of the data that can be tracked from RepOne Sensor.
Tracking these values can help build context in our training, improving our ability to make informed future decisions to enhance the effectiveness of our training outcomes. Your RepOne Sensor will be the ultimate guide to making the best choices within a session, and between-sessions for prescribing volume, load, and reps.
Here is a figure from a velocity based training review that shows more superficial uses as well as deeper integration of VBT built into programming.
Figure 1. Displays the many uses of VBT devices ranging from least to greater use of velocity implementation (Weakley et al., 2021).
It is very common within a session to question whether a set was too heavy or light. Moreover, the implementation of VBT can assist with dynamic adjustments to loading and volume based on daily readiness and performance.
Data from VBT can provide instant feedback on the speed of movements which allows for us to aim more accurately towards the moving target that is daily performance. Additionally, instant feedback can increase motivation and drive competitiveness within an athletic setting.
Velocity Based Training Methodology
- Force Velocity Curve
- Velocity Targets
- Minimum Velocity Threshold/v1RM
- RPE Targets
- Speed Targets
- Neuromuscular Fatigue
- Passive VBT
Target velocity will shift based on the goal. For example, a powerlifter will typically aim for the lower speeds or maximal strength end of this force velocity curve (figure 2)(Weakley et al., 2021). However, basketball or football athletes might dance around the curve, ranging from maximal strength to speed (Table 2). This also shifts maximal strength capability and a subsequent shift in velocities presented at different intensities.
Figure 2. Chart of the force-velocity curve ranging from maximal strength to speed (Weakley et al., 2021).
Progressive overload is key in an effective training program. Therefore, incrementally decreasing velocity targets can be a great way to generate progress.
For example, let's say you have a goal squat set of 5 repetitions with a velocity target of 0.55 - 0.65 m/s for the day. Furthermore, in the following microcycle, one can decrease the velocity range target to 0.45 - 0.55 m/s to progress the difficulty of the squat.
This takes the guesswork of loading out of the equation, and allows you to just focus on execution and trusting your RepOne sensor.
The following table can be a useful guide towards planning velocity ranges for a training session:
(Table 1) OpenBarbell Squat Peak-End Velocity vs. RPE: The speeds associated with the corresponding RPE per rep.
Velocity stop can be a more dynamic method of capping the training volume based on fatigue accumulation within a set. Velocity stop occurs when the decrease of velocity results in the cessation of a set. A downside to velocity stop is the unpredictable session volume and hypertrophic effects of the rep range.
Implementing velocity stop protocols can prevent an athlete from overshooting within a session.
Velocity loss is utilized to aim for specific energy systems when training:
- Higher velocity loss can lead to greater hypertrophic or a muscle building effect.
- Lower velocity loss percentages will yield less fatigue and higher reps in the tank.
Velocity loss also allows for dynamic load adjustments to account for daily readiness. This means that we can adjust loads based on recovery state, since your velocity loss per rep will increase with decreased recovery.
Minimum Velocity Threshold/v1RM
Minimum velocity threshold or V1RM is the speed in which a 1 repetition max (1RM) will move. Knowledge of the speed in which a 1RM moves can be a valuable insight on whether or not you are in proximity to failure during a typical training day.
Depending on the exercise and type of athlete you are, whether you are a powerlifter, olympic, or sports athlete, your training age, morphology, etc., the V1RM will vary, and this is highly relevant in the table down below:
(Table 2) Minimum-velocity thresholds that were found for various exercises (Weakley et al. 2021).
Table 2 is generalized to the athletes of the specific sport, but it’s important to keep in mind that V1RM is highly individual. Training can be individualized by testing the speed at which an athlete’s 1RM moves, thus being able to understand an athlete’s proximity to failure.
Load velocity profile
Create a load-velocity profile (LVP):
We made a personalized load-velocity profile builder that will help you estimate the velocity of bench press and squats that should correspond with the projected RPE for a given rep count.
For further depth and implementation of VBT we also wrote a paper that contains existing data and corresponding velocity values, as well as how to effectively build a VBT protocol.
Figure 3. This article was written internally on effective implementation of VBT and existing data sets.
Calculate e1RM daily
A limitation of training is that maximal effort within a training program cannot be tested often within a cycle. Maximal ability for an exercise fluctuates between sessions and can be estimated with the use of a VBT device.
The RepOne Sensor is designed to help estimate daily 1RM and this can be useful in trending progression, calculating training intensity, and allowing for the flexibility of each set.
Base % backoffs on decreasing velocity targets
Extending from the calculated 1RM that is generated from the RepOne Personal app, you can determine the % zones in which you are working. Different from traditional percentage based training, % velocity is a more flexible framework when compared to the percentage lifted.
Since fatigue and maximal effort fluctuates each day, estimated 1RM due to velocity of the lift will correspond with one’s readiness to perform. Percentage based training will only utilize the number that is tested in a maximal effort session, while VBT can increase the daily precision of what maximal effort might look like.
We can use this to leverage the zone in which we are performing our backoffs with. This ensures that we are not under or overshooting our backoffs with the goal of maintaining explosiveness and technical prowess.
As previously mentioned, recovery and ability to perform are a moving target, and autoregulating intensity and volume with the implementation of VBT can help maximize the effectiveness of a training program.
Between sessions, data can be accumulated on velocity values that are associated with reported RPE. This approach can individualize the velocity measure, exercise, and the RPE that is matched with the person. Below is a table that can be referenced between the squat, peak velocity, RPE, and percentage associated with RPE value.
(Table 3) In this table, we have the reps per set aligned with the percentage of 1RM and the corresponding RPE.
Aggregating velocity data between sessions and building a set of rolling averages can be great data to reference for daily readiness. In the past, many methods have been utilized to assess daily readiness or accumulated neuromuscular fatigue such as grip, vertical jump heights, readiness questionnaires, heart-rate variability, etc.
Velocity can be implemented to demonstrate objective values in decreased performance resulting in overtraining or increased readiness. This data can be used to pivot towards a deload or taper or an impromptu maximal effort session fueled by exceptional velocity values that indicate increased readiness.
Velocity For Competition
Velocity based training has fuelled the competitive atmosphere in collegiate weight-rooms. Existing research has demonstrated how valuable intent is in the expression of strength and velocity.
Intent increases with competition and the immediate feedback that VBT produces can be valuable towards building effective culture and competition between friends and teammates alike.
How To Use The RepOne Sensor
The following sections provide instructions for the use of the RepOne sensor:
How To Use Your RepOne Sensor
Ensure that the RepOne Sensor has enough charge for your session.
Make sure that iPhone or Android’s bluetooth is on.
Turn on the RepOne sensor.
Open the RepOne app and tap the refresh button under “Tap Unit # to Connect”.
The unit # should pop up in this list.
Place the bottom, or magnetic end onto a small plate to anchor the RepOne sensor.
Loosely wrap the velcro strap around one end of the barbell.
In the exercise box type in the movement that is being executed.
Load can be tracked under weight and can be logged under kilograms (KGs) or pounds (lbs).
Difficulty of the current set can be tracked under RPE from a scale of 5.5-10.
By pressing “record video”, a video of the exercise can be logged per set.
Upon set completion, a new set will begin after a specified time in settings.
Accessing the history tab will display past workouts and exercises that have been done.
Alternatives To Velocity Based Training
Rating of Perceived Exertion
As far as subjective scales go RPE is most widely used. The rating of perceived exertion is a scale from 1 - 10 where an individual will rate the perceived difficulty of their set or exercise.
Proximity to failure is the most common approach to RPE implementation. The RPE value will correspond with reps left in the tank or reps in reserve (RIR) after the cessation of a set or exercise. For example, if one were to rate their set a RPE 6 they would have 4 reps in the tank.
Simple equation to calculate RPE:
10 - RIR = RPE RATING
Physical sensations that can have an effect on RPE are increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, increased sweating, and muscular fatigue.
At RPE 5 or below, the likelihood of accurately assessing reps remaining decreases significantly, so we recommend using the scale at or above RPE 5.5.
Percentage Based Training (PBT)
Ten years ago, autoregulation in strength training was much less common. PBT was the traditional approach to individualizing programming. PBT involves implementing training intensities based on a percentages of a tested 1 rep max or a projected 1 rep max.
The drawbacks of percentage based training are that changes in daily performance aren’t accounted for per session. Even though percentage based training has limitations, it is still a highly effective tool to implement.
Video footage can be used to visually examine the speed and quality of the set. Video is most valuable when RPE and footage is logged together to measure technical progress, ease of execution, and performance.
Future Works With Velocity Based Training
VBT values associated with perceived readiness
Load-velocity profiles to examine exercise performance between sessions and routines
More data on estimated 1RM velocity of different athlete types
More data on the effectiveness of load velocity profile program integration
Research on the degree of effectiveness of complete velocity program integration, when compared to RPE and percentage based training.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Velocity Based Training Worth It?
Velocity Based Training is exceptional for those that want to take their training to the next level. However, due to the moderate to high asking price for a device, an individual can use RPE and other means as a cheaper method of automatically regulating training variables.
What Are Common Exercises That Implement Velocity Based Training?
Powerlifters typically utilize VBT devices for the squat, bench, and deadlift, while olympic lifters implement VBT in the clean, jerk, and snatch. Any exercise that includes explosive stationary movement can be tracked with velocity, like a landmine press, overhead press, muscle snatch, trap bar deadlift, jump squat, etc.
VBT devices are also often used in assessments through the measure plyometric or jumping exercises.
What Are High Velocity Exercises?
High velocity exercises can be plyometric movements such as drop jumps, barbell squat jumps, or tuck jumps, and can be olympic exercises like the power-clean, push-jerk, or snatch.
- Weakley, Jonathon PhD1,2; Mann, Bryan PhD3; Banyard, Harry PhD4; McLaren, Shaun PhD2,5; Scott, Tannath PhD2,6; Garcia-Ramos, Amador PhD7,8 Velocity-Based Training: From Theory to Application, Strength and Conditioning Journal: April 2021 - Volume 43 - Issue 2 - p 31-49 doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000560