Velocity Based Training – First Thoughts

I have spent the past couple weeks experimenting with a bar velocity tracker with my athletes. Here are a few of my first impressions on velocity based training (VBT):

Taller athletes have a lower average velocity, equal or higher peak velocity

Considering the mechanical disadvantages caused by longer limbs, this isn’t too surprising, but it was something I hadn’t thought of prior to seeing the data. Dr. Bryan Mann has produced more on velocity based training than I ever will, and he has provided the modified intensity scale for velocity ranges below.

I’m interested to see how an athlete’s height will affect their %1RM to velocity correlation (I haven’t found any research on this yet) as I have more time and experience with this.

Improved effort on reps with sub-maximal loads

Now, every rep is track-able instead of relying on each set being judged as a whole. When doing a set based on %1RM or fatigue level, a set is gauged on the difficulty of the final few reps. With velocity tracking every rep, and having a set range, athletes were exploding up each rep, as fast as possible (maintaining proper form). Instead of judging a set of 8 on how the final 2-3 reps feel, now we have 8 data points to gauge the set on. Plus, adding another value for athletes to monitor has increased the competitiveness of the lifts.

No more debate on proper load for speed work

Relying on qualitative feedback (quality/perception of a set) has always had an inherent flaw – it is interpreted differently by different people. Trying to convince an athlete that their speed work is too slow can be…challenging at times. Being able to point to numbers on a screen eliminates these discrepancies and provides quantitative data for athletes and coaches to more accurately gauge their work.

These are just a few, quick observations after going hands-on for a couple weeks. I plan on expanding on my experiences with VBT, implementation, and results once I have more time and compiled more data.


Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, FMS
Twitter: @DrewBHenley

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