Velocity based training is something that has been around a long time but just recently making its way into serious strength sports. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves what exactly is velocity based training? It is essentially strength training based on the speed and power of any given lift. This, of course, is not achieved by guessing but is however tracked by special devices. The one that I have been using is brought to you by PUSH. It’s a wearable device that tracks and transmits training data straight to your mobile device and can be analyzed after every set.
Now training with the velocity of the athlete’s movement is a great way to both quantify their lifting and performance but is also a great way to ensure the training of a particular training effect. It is important for athletes to train at different velocities to increase any particular training effects. These training effects include Power, Speed, Strength, Hypertrophy, and muscular endurance.
Understanding Velocity Based Training
P=FxV (power= force x velocity) Force is how fast a certain load is moved, and velocity is the distance traveled over a certain amount of time. Those who are looking to get the powerful need to focus their training in velocity ranges 0.75m/s -1.25 m/s. We also like to call power, speed strength. We are looking to be strong but fast at this training effect.
When it comes to training power, there are plenty of resources that state using anywhere between 60-80 percent of your one rep max. I like to keep the percentage for power training around 70-80% Using 2-4 reps per set with 4-6 sets in total.
Speed is the fastest you and your athletes should be training regarding tracking velocity. Reaching between 1.2 m/s and 1.6 m/s. Training in this range will surely increase the speed of an athlete.
Speed training is done with percentages far below a one rep max. Anywhere between 30-40% it is also should be done with a rep range of 3-7 and a set range of 4-8. I prefer my athletes keep speed work in the 8 set range with about 3-5 reps per set.
Strength is best trained at velocities of 0.1-0.6 m/s. Yes, this is relatively slow, but again you or your athlete should be training with significantly higher loads than during the other training effects. The goal while training strength is to increase absolute strength. This is the most important training effect of increasing. If absolute strength increases then the rest of the training effects will improve by velocity.
Training for absolute strength is a good way to increase all of the other training effects. Being able to lift heavier weights will make you faster at less weight. The opposite is also true. Being able to lift a weight at a faster speed will allow a heavyweight to be moved at the original velocity. Training for strength should be done at 80-100% of one rep max. It should include a set range of 2-4 and a rep range of 3—5. I am in total agreement with these training preferences.
Many don’t know what this term means, but it simply means growth. When we are looking to gain muscle, this is the training effect that we are going to turn to. Training at velocities of 0.3-0.8 m/s Not too fast and not to slow. Again when gaining muscle is the main goal we need to have greater time under tension and moving the loads to fast will not lead to an overall increase in the time a muscle is under tension.
Training to gain more muscle mass is best suited for 60-80 % of one rep max with a rep range of 8-12 and set range of 2-4. Depending on the prior workout will determine the number of sets. For example, if you have done 3-4 compound movements before your finishing exercise then keeping the sets to 2 is perfectly fine. But if the training session was mild it is ok to aim for four sets.
Looking to last longer or compete in a highly aerobic sport like the 1500m? Then this is the training effect that must be trained. Velocities of 0.5-0.9 m/s should be the target for all training exercises. The reason is that we aren’t trying to be fast as we aren’t trying to build muscle, so the speed of the movement needs to accommodate for a moderate speed.
30-60% of your athlete’s one rep max with a rep range of 13-20 and set range of 2-4. Training for muscular endurance is great for endurance athletes or for athletes rehabbing an injury. Even athletes in a deload phase of their training cycle.
Who should be using this?
Velocity based training programs shouldn’t be used for the beginning athlete. It is not necessary. They have a lot to learn regarding technique and building up a solid strength base, so training with a device likes PUSH is not going to be of great benefit.
Athletes that are way more experienced and nearing the top of their sport will make massive strides in their respective sports. Like stated before every sport and every athlete needs to train a different training effect at the various stages of their development, or training cycle.
What do coaches need to know?
Tracking velocity is virtually impossible without a device that can accomplish it. So targeting those specific training effects was difficult to do based strictly on percentages of one rep maxes. It is hard because athletes are not always going to feel the greatest or perform at the most optimal all the time. It just is not going to happen. But having something that quantifies and shows exactly how an athlete is performing on that specific training day can be the difference between injury and personal best.
If an athlete is having problems hitting the specified velocity for the training effect during a warm-up set, it is evident to see that they are having a bad day. We can also look at the other side of the spectrum. If the athlete is blowing way past the velocity specified then maybe it is worth going for a small personal best! That is where the coach’s intuition comes into play. Learning how to manipulate the training effects to help improve the athlete’s overall performance is what we want to accomplish wither we have a velocity tracker or not.
What do Athletes need to know?
Athletes are probably not used to training with a device attached to themselves to track their workout never mind tracking how fast or how powerful they are performing. So obviously there is a learning curve involved. You need to understand the velocity metrics and know what m/s (meters per second) number matches the desired training effect.
If you are about to take the step into using a device to track velocity and want to use this style of training it is important to try and not sway away from the prescribed m/s because if you are moving weights too fast or to slow and away from the training zone that you are looking to enhance then you are bound to be training a completely different training effect. Which is obviously counterproductive?
This may seem like an obvious statement, but it is important to train full out while doing velocity based training. You need to as fast with any given load as possible. No scaling back because the weight may be lighter. Do not train “down” to the weight, Move every load with as much speed as possible. This is important because we want the truest ratings coming off the device. If you move 60% of your max at the same speed as 90% then according to your device, you have decreased in progression.
Velocity based training is a great way to quantify both your training but also a good way to justify your current training and how you are feeling on any given day. Training with a device that can track your speed and power is the easiest way to make sure that you’re in the right training effect regarding meters per second.
As stated before there are multiple training effects and each one has its velocity range. As well as appropriate training rep ranges and set ranges to go along with it. Using the appropriate weights to hit the target velocity is also important, and a device like PUSH can do all of the above. It is like walking around with a coach on your forearm.
There is one thing that is the most important tip to use when tracking velocity, Do not scale down the speed of lifting just because you are doing a weight that is well below your max. It is important to get proper readings from your device to track your progress properly. “Taking it easy” on a particular weight will show up in your log as being slow. So make every single rep don as fast as possible.
I honestly believe this is the future of training. Being able to track progress on a velocity and power basis will bring a new level athlete because it will be that much easier to stay in a particular training effect without using to easy or too hard of weight. It is also going to limit the number of injuries that occur in athletes because it will be easy to see when an athlete isn’t having a good day!
So I’ll leave you with this. If you decide to start training in this manner, it is important to trust the device. It is also important to never slack on a session. Make every single rep fast. Also if you see yourself start to slide back, then it is important to cut the sets down because your body is asking you to.
Let’s start a new trend: Not all fast is strong however all Strong is fast!